The most satisfying summer meals usually involve a backyard and a grill. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, as many as 86% of U.S. households now own an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker. If you’re among them, you are probably well-versed in the basics of cooking on the grill. Here are 10 professional tips to up your grilling game this summer. Start those burners!
1. PLAY WITH THE FIRE
Indirect heat (grilling high above or off to the side of the flames or coals) is ideal for large roasts, whole chickens, and whole fish—anything that will need 25 minutes or more to cook. Close the lid or cover with a large roasting pan to create oven-like conditions. Direct heat (grates directly over the flame or coals) is best for foods that cook quickly, like steaks, satay’s, shish kebab, and most vegetables and fruits. You can find helpful information on grilling times for different meats, poultry and fish at Weber.
2. AVOID THE COLD
From Jimmy Bradley, chef and owner of The Red Cat and The Harrison in New York City, and Top Chef Masters contestant:
“Unless you want steak that’s charred on the outside and rare on the inside, don’t put your food on the grill cold. Let it come up to room temperature beforehand.”
3. MARINADES NEED TIME
If you have the time (30 minutes or up to 1 day), marinades are great for infusing flavor and tenderizing. Avoid over doing it, though: too long and the meat becomes mushy. For fish up to 20 minutes; steaks, chicken, and chops 2 hours; and for roasts and whole chickens 4 to 6 hours.
4. DRY RUBS DON’T
You don’t have to wait (but you can) after seasoning meat with a dry rub. It is fine to just rub and go straight to the grill. Another way to effortlessly infuse flavor and also retain moisture is to grill over a bed of herbs. It’s a wonderful method for delicate fish and scallops. Layer lightly oiled herbs in a grill basket top with seasoned fish and grill.
5. SMOKING IS PERMITTED
From Marc Murphy, chef and owner of Landmarc and Ditch Plains restaurants in New York, and judge on Food Network’s Chopped:
“I love to turn my charcoal grill into a smoker to add tons of smoky flavor. Take the hot coals and push them to one side of the grill, then add a tasty rub to any meat and place on the grill on the opposite side of the coals. Lastly, add wet hickory chips on top of the coals to create a smoking effect. You leave a little air-flow and then it just starts smoking and you can have a lot of fun with it! I’ve already used this technique for whole chickens, wings and lamb chops and they’ve turned out really, really well.”
6. AVOID A STICKY SITUATION
It is so disappointing when a beautiful piece of fish or meat gets stuck to the grill. Don’t let it happen to you: 1.) Clean heated grates with a wire brush; 2.) Oil them well using a folded paper towel held with tongs and dipped in vegetable oil; and 3.) Apply sugary barbecue sauces a few minutes before you are ready to take food off the grill.
“When grilling steaks you can baste the meat with rendered bone marrow mixed with canola oil. The protein in the marrow will react with the meat to create a tasty golden brown and delicious crust. If you do not have or want to buy bone marrow, use bacon fat or seasoned oil.”
8. MAKE ENTERTAINING EASY
Kebabs lend themselves to entertaining because they can be prepped ahead and cook quickly. Thread flat skewers, the day before, with vegetables and meat all cut to the same size to insure even cooking. (Use flat skewer to help keep food in place thread a piece of garlic on the tip to act as a stopper. Brush liberally with oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight until ready to grill
9. BURGER BASICS
From Elizabeth Karmel, Executive Chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York City and Washington, D.C. and author of several books, including “Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling”:
“Avoid a burger that looks like a hockey puck with a swollen belly by making a small depression in the middle of the uncooked burger before you grill. This indentation will prevent the burgers from swelling up and rounding out while cooking.”
10. GRILL DESSERT TOO
How about grilled mixed berry shortcake? Halve buttermilk biscuit and butter and grill, Brush with honey mixed with a little rum as they toast. (You can also use pound cake for a richer dessert) Top with sugar marinated raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries and a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.
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