Now that the official start to summer is here, it’s time to get outside and grill! It’s the perfect excuse to invite friends, family or co-workers over to celebrate summer.
Grilling is the simplest, most basic cooking method there is. Our ancient ancestors even knew, all you really need is food and fire. But just as the quality of potato salad varies widely from potluck to summer picnic, some people have a way with throwing food “on the barbie” and reaching perfection while others seem to specialize in well, overdone.
What the secret to great grilling? There’s actually more than you think. Let’s start with a few words of warning and our next post will give you even more tips for grilling success.
1. Don’t start with meat that is not totally thawed. If it’s still slightly frozen in the middle, your meal will end up undercooked.
2. Experts don’t use lighter fluid on a charcoal grill. The chemicals can give your food a really unpleasant flavor. Instead, try an electric starter or a chimney to start coals.
3. Don’t put your meat on the barbecue while the flames are shooting through the grill. Hot and fast is not a great way to grill, unless you like a crispy charred exterior and raw interior. Steaks should be seared on high heat, but overall, cooking on medium heat is best; when the coals are white and glowing.
4. Don’t look! Put the lid down and resist the urge to lift it up to check on the meat every few minutes. Each time you open the lid, the temperature in your grill actually drops, resulting in uneven cooking.
5. Grilling connoisseurs don’t cut into food to see if it’s done. It lets the juices out and results in dry steaks, burgers, and chicken. The best way to test food is by poking it with your finger. As your meat cooks, it becomes firmer and firmer. A rare steak feels squishy (like your chin); a medium steak feels more springy (like the tip of your nose); and a well-done steak feels taut (like your forehead).
6. Don’t baste constantly with sauces filled with sugar — sugar burns at a low temperature and will burn onto the meat. Baste at the very end of the cooking process, or serve a sweet barbecue sauce on the side as a condiment once your chicken or pork chops are cooked.
7. Don’t to use the same plate or platter to carry the cooked food back into the house. This is a food safety issue – nobody wants to poison an entire picnic. Always use a clean platter to bring steaks, chicken, or chops to the table.
8. Don’t use wooden or bamboo skewers for your shish-kebabs, unless you’ve soaked them in water first. Otherwise you are literally adding fuel to the fire.
9. Don’t forget that meat, fish, potatoes, and vegetables all have different cooking times. Red skinned potatoes roasted on the grill are a great side dish, but they take much longer to cook than cherry tomatoes or button mushrooms. Plan accordingly and don’t put every ingredient of your dinner on the grill at once.
10. Don’t forget grilled dessert! Yes, burgers, brats, and pork ribs taste great on the barbecue, but there are many other recipes to try on the sweet side. Fresh pineapple slices, peach halves, even slices of pound cake can benefit from some time on the grill. And as the embers die down, don’t forget to break out the marshmallows for S’mores.
Great Grilling Everyone!
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