When I was growing up my dad could not wait until the slightest warm-up in spring to break out the old Weber kettle and start grilling. My dad thought he was the best grill master in the neighborhood, when in reality, everything he cooked turned out charred and almost unrecognizable. We loved him anyway!
Nowadays, the summer grilling falls on my shoulders. Through trial and error, I have developed a way of grilling that produces the best meat and vegetables. No matter if using charcoal or gas, these tips work wonderfully to make sure that your grilling adventures are successful this summer.
1. Heat it up but tame the flames
It is always best to preheat the grill about 20 minutes before you start cooking any food. The grill should be between 350 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Having a preheated grill will allow the food to sear on contact but still keep the inside moist. It gives those great grill lines that everyone raves about and makes you look like a master chef.
Keep flare ups to a minimum. When the flames touch the meat, it can become charred or even taste like the charcoal or gas. Reduce flare ups by using lean cuts of meat and avoid using fats to cook with. Use a quirt bottle to quickly control any flare ups that occur. Fat drippings cause the flames to flare.
2. Brush it off and oil it up
Grills can gather debris and other nasty things that you do not want on your food. Once the grill has been pre-heated, use a wire brush to scrub the grill rack. Make sure to use a long handled brush so you do not burn your hand. Avoid using any cleaning agents prior to cooking.
After you have brushed the grill rack off, be sure oil the hot rack to keep meat from sticking. I use extra virgin olive oil, but regular vegetable oil works just as well. Soak a paper towel with the oil and using tongs rub the grill rack until well coated.
3. Marinate the meat and vegetables
The best flavors that come through when grilling are from foods that have been well marinated. Marinating food prior to grilling also helps stop the formation of HCAs which can be harmful. I like to marinate meats in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, although I have ever left them in the marinade overnight as long as the marinade is not overly strong.
Vegetables usually need to sit in a nice marinade for about 1-2 hours for the flavors to really come alive and give them that wonderfully delicious aroma and taste.
4. Put it in the basket
When grilling vegetables or small cuts of meat put them in a grill basket to ensure that they do not fall through the grill rack. My grill basket gets a workout every year as I like to cook an entire meal on the grill! After marinating the food, transfer it to the basket and for best results keep the basket off to the side of the flame or hot coals, they cook slowly and have a great taste.
5. Let it rest
When grilling, meat can become tough and almost inedible simply because people do not let it rest between the grill and the plate. I learned this one the hard way. After a few times of coming up with shoe-leather steaks, I saw a cooking show with Bobby Flay. He said to always let meat rest after cooking. I took that advice to heart and have had some of the best grilled steaks. I let the meat rest on a platter for about 10 minutes before carving or serving so that the juices within the meat can redistribute evenly.
Summer is the time to be outside enjoying the sun and grilling dinner for family and friends. I am by no means a grill master and am even somewhat intimated by those who claim that title. However, I do have the best time grilling simply by following these easy tips.