If friends and neighbors recall last year’s Memorial Day barbecue with smirks and grins, the odds are good that it did not go off without a hitch. In fact, it may have been a long list of hitches that connected to form a barbecuing disaster. Rather than passing the buck and admitting defeat, learn from your grilling mistakes! Start by avoiding the top five barbecuing mistakes that almost everyone makes.
Over-marinating the Food
If the previously firm fish is falling apart on the grill, blame the marinade. Or, more precisely, blame the time that the fish spent in the marinade.
Solution: Time the marinade. Fish takes about 15 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the cut. Chicken or turkey can handle a longer stay. Beef and pork can handle the longest marinating times. Check the recipe for some guidelines. As a general rule of thumb, remember that the more acid there is in the marinade, the shorter the meat’s stay should be.
Ruining Hardwood Charcoal with Lighter Fluid
You have purchased the special hardwood that is known to add a unique smoky flavor to your meat. Since it does not start up as easily as the pre-treated briquettes, you add a quarter bottle of lighter fluid to the mix.
Solution: Not only have you just ruined any chance your meat had to make it to the plate as a tasty dish, but you might also have set the fence on fire during the unexpected flare up. Learn how to use hardwood charcoal during a trial run before the big family reunion barbecue. If you never worked with this cooking medium before, it is best to get your learning curve out of the way before you are trying to impress cousins you have never met.
Dismal Lack of Preparation
The coals are blazing, and you are ready to start cooking. Unfortunately, the meat is still partially frozen, the veggies are neither peeled nor sliced and do not even get me started on the state of the potatoes. In short, you turned on the burner before you had anything ready to cook.
Solution: Take a clue from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” episodes. When he cooks and talks into the camera, everything is already grated, chopped, sliced and seasoned on a plate for quick use. The same holds true for a barbecue. Before you heat the coals, defrost and season the meat. Chop and slice anything else you will be barbecuing. If you are placing skewers onto the grills, get them ready before the match touches the first coal.
Junky Barbecuing Tools (that no real grill master would be caught dead with)
The basic essentials are a fork, a spatula – both with long handles – and tongs (also with long handles). Sure, you could pick up these items at the big box consumer goods store, but there is a good chance that halfway through the first use the set breaks. You are left to deal with ordinary kitchen gadgets, which likely leads to overcooked food since you have to tend to your burns.
Solution: Invest in a good set of barbecuing tools. You do not need all the bells and whistles, but you should have material that is sturdy, can handle the high heat from the coals and will not bend. Although more expensive than comparable sets, expert barbecuing tools will last you for years to come.
Burnt Meat that is Raw in the Middle
Who here has not produced the charred steak that was completely pink and cold in the middle? Let him cast the first briquette!. Seriously, this is a very common mistake and usually happens to the grill master who feels rushed and wants to put food on the table quickly.
Solution: You cannot rush barbecued meat. You have to cook it slowly until it is done. If this takes an hour, then so be it. So, give the grill time to heat up and do not fall into the temptation to cook over the flames. Cook over the embers and check the interior temperature of the meat before serving it.