Becoming your family’s grill master is not an easy journey as it requires more skills and knowledge than simply placing and turning meat on a grill. Grilling begins way back in the preparation. Without adequate preparation, you’ll likely mess up one or two things or, worse, the entire meal. Whether you use charcoal, gas, or propane grill, there is absolutely nothing to prevent you from achieving the results you want every time. To help you brush your outdoor cooking skills and become a grilling pro, here are 11 tips and tricks we thought you should know.
Remove the Meat From the Fridge Early Enough
Allow your meat to come to room temperature before grilling it. A good rule of thumb is to let it sit for 30 minutes to allow proper thawing. Remember you’re going to cook your meat at a high temperature for a short time; the colder the steak is, the longer it will take to cook. The result is either burnt or unevenly cooked meat.
Chicken, steak, and pork chops require bringing before you place them on the grill as they can’t withstand staying for a long time on a hot grill without drying out. You can also dry brine (salting the meat a few hours before grilling) to create a fuller seasoning and retain the meat’s natural moisture.
Make Sure Your Grill is Hot
Adding food on a hot grill helps create that excellent crispy, crusty outer layer. Searing keeps it perfectly juicy in the center and prevents food from sticking to the grill. If you’re using charcoal, wait for it to burn adequately before placing your food. Hot BBQ grills also help kill bacteria.
Prepare All the Food To Be Cooked Before Lighting the Grill
It’s essential to prepare all your food before you begin cooking. Gather all the materials you will need and begin preparations. If you’re cooking everything on skewers, start preparing them early in advance. You don’t want to be fixing meat on the skewers and turning others on the grill. You can easily get overwhelmed and end up burning some. Be sure to have some paper towels nearby to clean unwanted messes.
Season Your Meat Generously
Depending on what you’re cooking, keep your food well-seasoned before grilling. You can rub the meat with seasoning a few minutes before putting it on fire. If your grate does not require seasoning, you can brush it with some oil when the grates are still cold to prevent the meat from sticking to them.
Anything that is not easy to hold can be grilled on a skewer. These include small pieces of meat and vegetables. While there is nothing wrong with putting them on the grill grates, skewers make it easy to turn and cook sliced vegetables without dropping them inside the fire. To prevent them from burning, consider soaking the skewers for 15 minutes.
Create Heat Zones
If you’re using a charcoal grill, bank coals in the center. Sear the food in the middle where the heat is more concentrated and begin moving to the outer edges of the grill to cook your meat perfectly without burning it. If you’re using a gas grill, leave one burner on and the other on medium or low. Medium or low heat helps cook the food thoroughly.
Avoid Adding the Sauce Too Early and Add Mayo When Grilling Fish
Adding the sauce too early, especially a sweet sauce, can overcook the sugar on the barbecue, leading to burns. Wait for at least 15 minutes into the grilling to add the sauce. Use mayo when grilling fish to prevent it from falling apart. Fish can be particularly sticky and messy when grilling. To keep it in one piece, coat it with mayonnaise.
Use a Grilling Thermometer To Check for Doneness
A grilling thermometer is the most reliable means of checking for doneness. It guarantees that meat has been cooked to the right temperature, making it easier to achieve consistent results. Your instant-read meat thermometer will read 125 degrees for rare beef, 165 degrees for chicken, 160 degrees for ground beef burgers, 145 degrees for pork, and 160 degrees for well-done meat.
Avoid Marinating Veggies Before Grilling, But You Can Marinate Starchy Veggies
Adding any sauce, even salt, to vegetables like eggplant can be disastrous as they end up releasing all the moisture and creating steam on the grill. Instead, grill them on high heat and toss them into a flavorful marinate once they have visible grill marks. Try soaking or marinating starchy veggies in a vinegar mix. This helps add water content and minimize the production of acrylamide. This makes them more delicious and prevents the formation of carcinogens.
Avoid Pressing or Poking the Meat
Grilling doesn’t require constant turning, pressing, or poking the food. Large pieces of meat require flipping every 3 minutes under high heat and 5 minutes under low heat. Moving the food around while it cooks can lead to uneven cooking and increased cooking time. Use a spatula to turn burgers and only touch them when you’re ready to flip. Remember to let it sit for a few minutes before cutting to avoid losing juices.