Summertime is the season where everyone gets thinking of a BBQ. It is the perfect time to get your grill fired up, which is if you actually own one. Everyone enjoys well-grilled meat, but not everyone can prepare sweet tasting grilled dishes. Grilling is the most fun ways of cooking a much-flavored meal, especially meat.
Once you procure a grill in your backyard, it would be trivial to still call in for takeout when you can grill right from your yard. If you are considering calling your friends over for the summer, you want to impress them. Grilled dishes can do the trick, but you have to get it right from the word go.
Before you plan your next barbecue, you need to prepare a menu by identifying the recipes to cook. Other than that, you must gather a couple of tips to grill like a pro.
If you have not had the best stake of your life, you have probably not tried grilling yet.
Here are the top 15 tips you can bank on to come out with some of the finest and tasty dishes from your grill:
1. Get the right grilling tools
If it is your first time grilling, then you need to understand that you cannot grill like an amateur and expect professional results. Get yourself some tools to help with the grilling process.
It is at this point you want to ask yourself, are indoor infrared grills worth a try? At the top of your list, you need a good grill, whether charcoal, gas or electrical. While at it, learn all there is about the grill you are going for.
Technically, you must prioritize what works best for you – is it the barbecued ‘look’ or the smoky flavor?
Further, you need more of the basic tools like a pair of tongs, a grill brush, a long-handled spatula, and a hinged-wire basket. These will come pretty in handy when turning your meat to get the flavors right.
2. Grill over wood
There may be endless grill choices to choose, but wood is a fuel option that brings in additional flavor to the meat. You can either use whole hardwood logs, burning hardwood chunks like charcoal or use wood chips onto the coals of your charcoal grill.
Ideally, different wood varieties bring out different smoke effects, hence different flavors. If you want to add more sweetness to your meat, try the applewood. If to add a bacon-like taste, go for the hickory, which is a favorite for most BBQ lovers.
However, for additional tang in your meat, use mesquite wood.
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3. Preheat your grill
Always preheat your grill before you start the cooking. The first 15 to 25 minutes of your cooking should be to turn up the heat and ready your grill for cooking. This trick not only get your grill to the right temperatures for cooking, but it also kills any bacteria present on the cooking surface.
Notice that the moment your grill is all fired up, it will sear any food upon the first contact, and keep the insides moist so that your food does not stick on the grill. To measure the heat of the grill, place your hand over the grill.
The longer it takes for you to remove your hand, the cooler the grill is. Technically, two to three seconds implies high heat, while four to five seconds is medium heat, and six to seven seconds is low heat.
Remember to set up different heat zones. When one spot is too hot, then you have another cooler spot to move your meat to.
4. Keep the grill closed
The lids of the grill are there for a reason. They are the number one way to regulate temperatures and allow the food to soak in as much flavor as possible.
Tempting as it is to keep opening the lid to check the progress of the food. Resist from it. The more times you open the lid, the more you let heat and moisture escape. This results in slower cooking and drier meat at the end.
5. Oil It Up
You may be a clean-freak, but regardless of how clean your grill is, it is normal for meat to stick and char on the outside when you place it directly on the rack.
Instead, you can oil up the hot grill rack before you place your food. Use vegetable oil. To avoid getting burnt, soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and use tongs to rub it over the rack. For matters of safety, DO NOT use cooking spray on a hot grill.
Other than oiling the grill, be sure to lightly coat the steak before placing it on the hot grill. The oil on the steak will let the surface temperature to get seared fast, ensuring a juicier final product.
Do not be fussy with the oil to use on your grill or steak. Save the expensive oils for your veggies that will greatly benefit from the extra taste.
6. Marinate Your Meat
Since you are all in for the extra flavors that come with grilling, go all out with marinating. Take a few minutes before you start your cooking to soak your meat into a combination of ingredients of your choice, to help infuse food with flavor.
While flavoring your meat, consider syrupy coatings often made with honey, maple syrup, or molasses. You can also opt for ingredients like acidic liquids, such as lemon juice, vinegar, and wine, and blends of herbs and spices.
Pro tip: salting your stake before placing it on the grill will help in forming a savory crust as your meat cooks. Go for coarse salt and black pepper as per your preference. Do not be worried about sprinkling too much salt. Be generous because some of the seasonings will be lost in the grilling process.
7. Tame The Flames
When grilling, you can expect flare-ups when fats from the meat drip onto the heat source and catch fire. If your meat gets licked by such flames, the taste will be a little off, and not so much the taste you are after. To reduce this effect, make sure you trim excess fat.
However, be careful not to trim out all the fat because fat gives taste to the steak. You may also need to keep a bottle of water near the grill to quickly douse any unexpected flare-ups. This only works when the flare-ups are small.
When the excessive flare-ups are a lot for you to handle, put the lid back on the grill to control the temperatures.
8. Don’t forget the vegetables
For a complete dish that will impress everyone, do not just grill your meats. Consider some vegetables like Halve tomatoes, bell peppers, sliced potatoes, avocados, onions, and eggplant that will be served with the meats. Even lettuce can be grilled.
Be careful when grilling veggies because they do not demand too much heat. Therefore, cook them as far from the coal as possible.
While at it, also consider other food items including eggs, corn, Mac and Cheese, among others. If you are going to get to these kinds of foods, then a grilling basket is worth your investment.
It is the best way to grill your foods, particularly for thin- or small-cut vegetables, without them falling through the rack. The best thing is that it does not keep the foods from soaking in as much flavor as possible.
If you do not have a grilling basket, line up your foods in order, say from left to right. This way, you have more control over which foods hit the flames and set apart the half-cooked and the raw items on your rack.
9. Make the center of your burger slightly thinner
If you are grilling a burger, then make sure the center is slightly thinner than the rest of its body.
Grilling a burger is harder for most people because, when ground meat is grilled, it puffs slightly in the middle. This makes it harder to grill evenly. Another solution is to keep pressing down more in the middle as you turn and grill the burger.
10. Have aluminum foil at standby
Depending on the size of your grill and the amount of food you are preparing, you will need aluminum foil at the side.
Ideally, once some food is done, you need to remove it from the grill. An aluminum foil will help keep the food warm, moist and free from bacteria, as the rest of it readies.
11. Flip just once
The look of the meat is just as important as the taste. The grill marks on meat are what showcases prowess in the whole art. Learn to gauge cooking time and rotating the meat 90 degrees after a couple of minutes of grilling.
The idea is to let the meat cook long enough to develop a good crust. Ideally, you should only turn the food when grill marks form. Flipping the steak too often can sabotage the charring of the meat and eliminate most of the seasoning on the steak.
Remember, the heat zones on your grill will have different effects on the results too. As you turn your meat back and forth, concentrate on the center to sear food, because the heat is highest there.
The outer sides of the grill are where you place your meat for the perfect cook, without burning or charring the skin.
12. Grip, don’t stab
Since you have the basic tools in place, avoid using a fork or knife to turn your meat. The effect is not just reflected on the look of the final product.
Using sharpies pokes holes in the meat that can allow precious juices to drain out, leaving your meat drier than it should be. Use a pair of tongs instead. If you must cut through to check whether the meat has cooked properly, make a small slit.
The best way to tell whether your meat is ready or not is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. Using it does not make you less of an expert, because even pro grillers use them all the time.
However, to get the readings right, do not let it touch the bones on the meat because you will get a false reading.
Remember to do so before your meat is overcooked because you cannot go back to fix an overcooked cut. In the end, your meat should feel firm and springy as a sign that it is well done.
When it is that well-done, your thermometer should be at 160. Anything below that is rear steak or middle-cooked.
13. Soak Your Skewers
When using bamboo or wooden skewers, it is easy for them to get burned given the high heat of the grill. To prevent that from happening, soak them in warm water for at least 30 minutes or an hour before placing them on the grill.
14. Let the meat rest
Right after grilling the meat, do not serve it immediately. As the meat goes through the heat, the muscle fibers contract and drives the juices to the center of the cut.
If you serve it immediately, then the meat might taste harder and drier than it actually is. Give it a rest for a few minutes as you prepare side dishes to go with the meat. Remember, the larger the cut of meat, the more rest time it needs.
Once the meat has rested a couple of minutes, quickly place it on the grill for about 30 seconds on each side just before serving. This will bring out a surface sizzle, upon which you can re-season to tire together all the tastes.
15. Brush it off to keep it clean
It is always good to work with a clean grill. The best times to clean your grill and get rid of any debris is working on it when it is still hot. Once you are done the cooking, you can use that moment to brush off any debris from the charred food items.
However, you can choose to do so as you begin your cooking, right after preheating. For this exercise, you will need a long-handled wire grill brush, so you do not burn your hands.