Follow these great grill pointers and you will enjoy a better BBQ this summer.
1. Temperature wait
It’s pretty stunning, but some people toss cold meat on a cold grill and then fire it up, none the wiser. By letting your steak-maker heat up for about 20 minutes, you’re allowing both the grill and the surrounding metal to come up to an even temperature, which leads to more efficient, controlled and safe cooking. So take your meat out of the fridge at least an hour before your grilling, room temperature meat cooks more evenly..
2. Oil your grill
You cook with oil when you’re making something on your grate, rapeseed oil is the best due to its higher burn point, plus you can use it as a dressing base, so why would outside be any different? Often times, leaner cuts of protein, like fish, tend to stick to the grates of your grill. Defend against it by using a pair of tongs to rub a paper towel soaked in cooking oil over the grates. An alternative method is to brush your food with olive oil and season it with sea salt before it goes on the grill.
3. Time to Marinate
Aside from helping your food taste better, acidic marinades actually protect against heterocyclic amines (HCAs), carcinogens that are most often caused by cooking poultry, red meat or fish over an open flame. Using vinegar, citrus juice, or even beer as a base, let your meat soak for at least a few hours before throwing it on the grill.
4. Breathing Room
While there are a multitude of effective ways to direct your heat for cooking, full blast isn’t one of them. Whether it’s leaving one gas burner off or simply positioning your coals to one side, always make sure there’s at least one small area that is not over direct heat and that’s not crammed with food. This allows you to move your food around accordingly to ensure nothing gets burned — and gives you a “safe zone” to move food for slower cooking or to rescue the perfect piece of meat from a nasty flare-up. Using the lid of your bbq also helps with this to cook your food more evenly.
5. Hands Off
Once you put food on the grill, do your best not to touch it. If timed correctly, meats — especially burgers, steaks and chops — are meant to be flipped just once. After placing something on the grill, let it sit for a few minutes to get a good sear. Once it’s been cooking for a bit, use your tongs to test and see it if pulls away from the grates. Assuming you oiled it, the meat will either stick or “release” when it’s cooked long enough. If there’s any resistance, it needs to be left alone a few moments longer.
6. Just Add Water
Television commercials would have you believe that “flame-kissed” meat is a good thing. It’s not. Flare-ups caused by fat drippings create carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — they’re what create that charcoal taste when you eat something that’s been burnt on the grill. A spray bottle filled with water is the perfect weapon for extinguishing any fires too close to your food.
7. Vent, It’s Okay
Al fresco cooks often don’t realize the importance of their grill’s venting system. Vent openings both above and below the fire aid in controlling not only the temperature of your grill, but the way in which your food cooks. Fully open vents on both sides create more heat, and by rotating your lid to change the placement of your open top vent, you can control the speed of your cooking. Whichever side the top vent is opened above will cook faster than the unvented side. If you want to create a convection effect, like you would a turkey in an oven, place your top vent opening on the opposite side of your bottom vent opening.
A principal rule of cooking anything: it’s always better to be under than over. If you’re uncertain if that salmon has been on for 5 minutes or 15, go ahead and pull it off. You can always put undercooked food back on the grill to continue cooking.
9. Check Yourself
We get it. You’ve been doing this for years. But you’re still susceptible to poorly cooked meat. Every professional chef in every professional kitchen in the world uses a thermometer, and you should too. An excellent digital thermometer is the single most important piece of equipment you can have as a grill master other than a grill. Remember this in •C “75 and your staying alive!”