Grilling Tips and Tricks
The debate goes on….Charcoal vs. Gas Grills. Both have advantages and disadvantages so this is why I have brought to you Grilling Tips and Tricks. I have used both and truly believe that both are great
Some of the tips and trick to follow really only apply to a charcoal grill, but some are useful and important whether you are using charcoal grills, natural gas or propane grills.
Charcoal Grilling Tips
Get good quality charcoal, don’t make the mistake of stopping at the local corner store or your discount market to buy you charcoal, all charcoal is not all created equal.
Charwood or pure lump charcoal is good but be aware that because this is a natural product the heat can be a little uneven, they also tend to burn a little faster that briquettes.
Charcoal briquettes are manufactured and tend to burn at a more even temp. If you are serious about grilling never buy the “easy lite” briquettes, you will get a slight residual after taste of the lighter fluid that is added to them.
It is best to use chimney starter to light your charcoal, or another option is to use an electric charcoal starter.
Once you have your charcoal going the next key to successful grilling is patience. You need to make sure that the coals are burning well. Wait for your coals to turn white, this means that they are providing the maximum amount of heat.
Nothing is worse than putting your dinner on coals that are not fully lit. This will result in you getting uneven heat resulting in uneven cooking.
If you are using a gas grill turn it on to the desired temperature and preheat your grill for 15-20 minutes before placing you food on the grill and starting to cook.
This will allow time for the grill to heat evenly and will help provide for even cooking.
Controlling the cooking temperature of your grill while you cook your meat is important so that your food is properly cooked.
The last thing you want to do is burn the outside and have your food too rare or under cooked in the middle.
Using a gas grill you can more easily control the temp than when using a charcoal grill, but you can move and arrange your charcoal under your grill to help adjust the amount of heat you have under the part of the grill you are cooking on.
The following temps should be used as a good rule of thumb for cooking temperature:
- High temperature grill – 400 – 450 degrees F
- Medium temperature grill – 325 – 400 degrees F
- Low temperature grill – 250 – 325 degrees F
If you are cooking using indirect heat you simply move your charcoal to one side of your grill and move the food to the other side.
When using a gas grill turn off one of the burners and place your food on that side. Close the lid and allow your grill to act as an oven. This is an excellent way to slow roast on your grill.
Remember ALWAYS allow your meats to rest after cooking. This allows the natural juices in the meat to be reabsorbed into your protein.
If you don’t all that flavor and moisture will be left on the cutting board giving you substandard results.
A little maintenance on your grill will go a long way to helping you have a great grilling experience; your results will be better too!
Before starting you should clean the grill. I always (OK almost always) do this when I finish grilling, once I take the food off the grill I leave the gas burner on high heat, if it’s a gas grill, or keep the grill low over the coals if using charcoal.
This allows any remaining bits of food that are stuck on the grill to blacken under the heat. After about 15-20 minutes you can simply clean your grill.
When cleaning your grill after cooking I recommend not using a wire brush. The bristles can easily become dislodged, stick to your BBQ and adhere to your food, causing a risk of it being consumed.
A safer alternative is to use either aluminum foil or a nylon brush instead. This may take a little more elbow grease but definitely worth the extra effort!
Cleaning your Grill
Grilling Tips and Tricks are helpful when you need to clean your grill. After cooking is is the perfect time as it is quick, easy and voila your grill is clean and ready to go for next time.
You should also oil your grill especially if you are cooking something like fish which can stick to the grill and break apart.
To oil your grill simply fold a sheet of paper towel into a square roughly 4 inches x 4 inches. Then using your BBQ tongs dip the paper towel in a bowl of vegetable oil and slowly wipe the grill grate.
Continue to dip your paper towel in oil as needed until you have wiped your entire grill area.
Regular maintenance of your grill is important. A good annual clean will keep your equipment in top condition.
Your charcoal grill may require less in the way of an annual clean but it is still a good idea. I remove all the grills and scrub them down, clean all the gunk that is built up around the edges and in the corners.
I also us a grill de-greaser spray to clean it inside and out from top to bottom. Once you are done it’s like cooking on a new (or next to new) grill!
Food safety is critical when handling the foods that you are grilling, or cooking, at any time. Cross contamination is a very real threat that can easily cause food borne illness.
Make sure you thoroughly wash all surfaces, plates, utensils, etc. with hot soapy water after they come in contact with any raw proteins.
Short story; I was in Havana, Cuba for a conference years ago and the hotel served a buffet dinner one night. They had one cook manning the grill cooking chicken, pork and beef.
He used the same tongs to put the raw meat onto the grill and take the cooked meat off and put on your plate.
Raw chicken on the grill, cooked pork off the grill and onto the diners’ plates in one motion, using the same pair of tongs. I watched for a few minutes and decided to go vegetarian for the evening!
Marinade Grilling Tips and Tricks
Marinade, Marinade, Marinade! Not only will this add flavor to whatever you are grilling it actually is healthy for you as well.
Your marinade will help to reduce the natural carcinogens that are produced when you grill any meat at a very high temperature.
The Heterocyclic Amines or HCAs are produced naturally as a result of the creatine (amino acid) and sugars both found naturally in meats. For more information on this please see this link.
Marinating your proteins can help reduce these HCAs by as much as 90% or more. Plus it will add fantastic flavors to your creations!
Equipment; there are a couple of items that you really need to have, other than the obvious BBQ, smoker and/or grill. If you are using charcoal you should have a chimney starter.
This ensures that your proteins are cooked to precisely the right temperature. You don’t want to serve proteins that are under done or over done!
When grilling I love to use a BBQ wok to cook my veggies. Simply toss your favorite chopped veggies with a little olive or vegetable oil, add some of your favorite herbs. I usually add a little salt & pepper and some garlic power, maybe onion powder, kinda whatever I fancy at the time. This will give you an amazing side dish!
To reduce flare ups while grilling make sure you trim excess fat from your protein. It is also a good idea to keep a spray bottle filled with water handy.
I hope all these tips will help you to have a delicious and enjoyable BBQ season. We love to BBQ all year long!!