With the weather warming up (hopefully), it is time to get back to using those grills. I live in Southern California and have been neglecting my grill for a long time. These grilling tips were what I needed to take the cover off them and start putting my caveman skills to the test. With it being hot outside, you don’t want to be using that oven or stove to heat up the house. Use a crockpot or your grill to keep your house nice and comfortable.
My assistant even told me after writing this that when she gets a grill, she will be a grill ninja using these grilling tips. Now it’s time to go get your ninja on.
- Be prepared. Have everything ready before you start to grill. Have the meat, vegetables, sauces, brushes, grilling tools, utensils, plates, and anything else you need ready before you begin to grill. Once your grill is ready, you must be ready as well.
- Preheat. Just as an oven needs to preheat, so does a grill. Regardless if the grill is charcoal or gas, it needs 10 to 15 minutes for the grates to become hot. This will allow food to reach optimum cooking temperature faster as well as create a flavorful sear on your meat.
- Clean the grill. Each time before you grill, the grilling grate must be cleaned. After you preheat the grill, use a grill brush to scrub the grate clean. Then, using tongs, wipe down the grate with a paper towel soaked in olive oil or melted coconut oil. (Hint: If you do not have a grill brush, use crumpled heavy duty aluminum foil held with a pair of tongs as a make-shift handle to clean the grill.)
- Direct vs indirect heat. A general rule of thumb is that if the food you are grilling takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat. If the food you are grilling takes more than 20 minutes to cook, use indirect heat.
- Use the right tools. Use utensils made for the high heat of grilling instead of kitchen utensils. You risk burning yourself or starting a fire (or both) if you use tools that are not specifically designed for outdoor grilling.
- Add smoke. Whether you have a charcoal or gas grill, use hardwood logs, chips, or briquettes to give your food a smoky flavor. (Hint: Use hickory for a bacon-like taste to your food!)
- Be gentle with rubs. Delicately apply rubs to meat. If you apply rubs too aggressively, the meat fibers could be damaged and result in tough meat.
- How-to marinate. Food that is going to be grilled should be marinated for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Anything longer than that could over-soften the food and result in a mushy texture. Before placing it on the grill, pat dry marinated meat since wet meat will steam rather than sear.
- Successful skewers. Meat will cook evenly if it is cut into equal size pieces and are touching each other on the skewers. If the pieces of meat are different sizes and crammed on a skewer, the meat will not cook properly and result in over and undercooked pieces. (Hint: Be sure to soak wooden skewers in water for approximately 30 minutes prior to using.)
- Perfect burgers. As burgers cook, juice starts to collect in the center of the patty, which causes them to swell. To avoid this, use your thumb or the back of the spoon to make a slight indentation into the top of the raw patty. Better yet, stuff the burgers with avocado and avoid this problem completely.
- Low and slow ribs. For fall off the bone tender ribs, cook them over a low heat for several hours. Make sure the temperature stays consistent as changes in temperature will dry out meat.
- When to sauce and glaze. Add barbecue sauce to meat during the final 30 minutes of the cook time. Brush glaze onto meat during the final few minutes of cooking time. If barbecue sauce or glaze is added to the meat too early, it could burn and ruin what you are grilling.
- Grilled vegetables. Lightly coat vegetables with olive oil or melted coconut oil before grilling in order to prevent them from sticking to the grill or drying out. Asparagus, bell peppers, onions, and squash are best when cooked over direct heat. Use a grill pan or aluminum foil for chopped or delicate vegetables. Be sure to check out my recipe for Garlic Grilled Vegetables for the best grilled vegetables you will ever eat!
- Sear it. To create a perfect sear, resist the urge to flip the food too early. Turn the food only after grill marks have formed.
- Temperature is important. A cooking thermometer is the only way to guarantee meat is cooked to the correct internal temperature. Medium rare steak should have an internal temperature of 130 degrees F. Ground beef and ground pork should have internal temperatures of 160 degrees F. Chicken and turkey (whole and ground) should have internal temperatures of 165 degrees F. This is the only thermometer I use.
- Let it rest. Grilled food needs to have time to rest in order for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. Let the food sit uncovered for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before eating. Trust me, the food will be so juicy and delicious that you will be glad you waited.
- Change it up. In order to prevent cross-contamination from raw meat or poultry, use clean plates, cutting boards and utensils when serving the prepared food. Be sure to always use a different plate or platter to carry the cooked meat from the grill than the one used to carry the raw meat to the grill.
- Be safe! If a flare-up occurs, resist the urge to throw water on the flare-up as it could splatter and cause burns or ruin the grill. Instead, put the lid on the grill to extinguish the flare-up.
In my opinion you can never replace that delicious grilled flavor on foods. Take some time and get creative with your grill, your taste buds will be pleasantly surprised. If you need inspiration, I have you covered. Just head on over to my recipe index and have your choosing. My favorite recipe is my Jalapeno Dijon Grilled Chicken.