Summer is almost here, which means it is time to pull out the grill and start cooking, and also start planning the summer parties. Grilling is one of those things that a lot of people seem intimidated to start, because there are a lot of tips and tricks you need to know in order to get the perfect outcome. I have been grilling out now for a number of years, so here are five tips I have come to learn over the years about grilling, which can help make your next summer party a success.
Marinate the Day Before
One of the most overlooked tips when it comes to grilling is remembering to marinate, because marinading gives the meat the most flavor, and it also makes the meat more tender. Whether you are using gas or charcoal, you want to make sure that the day before you plan to grill, you marinade the meat in a variety of wet and dry ingredients. I like to use a little wine and vinegar on my meat, salt and pepper, and then add some fresh garlic cloves inside the meat. I am on a limited income so I can’t always be buying the most expensive steak or pork, and I have found that using marinading gives the less expensive meat the flavor and tenderness it so desperately needs. I also marinate my meat using regular Ziploc bags, although you can use bag sealing systems for even more flavor if you want. If you are using a dry rub, you can just let it sit a few hours before you plan to cook, but I also rather have it sit overnight as well.
I learned very quickly when I started grilling out that it is really important to preheat your grill, and that goes for gas and charcoal grills. Sometimes I would get in a hurry and just throw the meat on and then turn on the grill, but that never worked out very well. If you don’t preheat then you will have your meat stick to the grill, which could really ruin that perfect grilled look, and also cause the meat to start falling apart when you try to flip it. A good rule of thumb is to start preheating the grill about 15 minutes before you plan to throw the meat on, especially if you want the grill to be really hot. You want to feel the heat coming off of the grill, which means you put your hands above it, and if you feel the burn of the flame it’s ready.
Vegetables Require An Open Top
When it comes to grilling out, you might also include your vegetables on the grill, but most people end up doing this part all wrong. When you grill vegetables, you want to always have the lid of the grill open, and this goes for both charcoal and gas grills. If you close the lid then you are closing in the steam and moisture, which will make your vegetables all soggy. If you want to keep the crispy and natural texture of your vegetables, you must remember to keep the lid open during the entire cooking process, and you will find that your vegetables end up perfectly cooked. The only vegetables you should cook with the lid down are large vegetables like potatoes, since the steam and moisture helps cook the potato completely.
Use Wood For Flavor
One thing that I learned from my father back in the day was to always use wood chips or logs, because it adds that smokey flavor to your meat, and it don’t require any preparation to use. You can buy a variety of different wood logs and chips to add flavor elements like applewood or hickory to your meat, and this really helps the meat maintain a smoky quality. I really liked the hickory flavor with meats like steak and pork chops, because it almost made the meat taste like it was wrapped up in bacon. Whenever I was in a sweet mood, I would use applewood chips, because it’s a very sweet but not overpowering flavor. I can’t imagine using a gas or charcoal grill without adding the smoky wood chips, because it just enhances the natural flavor of the meat, and also adds that extra element that some types of meat really need.
Leave the Meat Alone
One thing I used to be horrible about was leaving the meat alone on the grill, because I used to start poking it and prodding it while it was trying to cook. It is very important that when you cook meat on the charcoal or gas grill to leave it alone, especially if you want those awesome grill marks on the meat. If you don’t leave the meat alone, you might be poking holes in it, which obviously lets the natural juices out, and then you wind up with dry meat. I was always flipping it wondering if it was done or not, but you just have to be patient and let the meat go, because that helps cook the meat evenly as well. You should only really check the meat one time, which is to check to see if the grill marks are there, which is your cue to flip the meat.