There are three types of men who stand behind the grill. The first guy has no clue what he is doing. When the meat is black, it is done. He serves it to his family and they chew on jerky. The second guy has enough information to be dangerous but has to microwave the meat because it isn’t done yet. The third guy is the one the other two aspire to be. He understands food safety and uses a meat thermometer to ensure everything is cooked to the right temperature.
Here are some easy tips to help guy number one and guy number two to become guy number three.
Follow Brent “the guy #3” McAllister on Twitter @brentonmutually
22. Take Care of Your Grill
Living on the west coast, our weather allows us to grill all year long. But for those who live in areas where grilling isn’t a year-long option, your grill sits in the elements, even if it is covered. If you are using propane, make sure your connections are not showing wear. One of the worse fires I’ve ever seen was from a propane grill that failed. Ensure everything is in working order.
21. Cleaning Your BBQ Grates
Having a clean grill is just common sense. But there are ways that require some elbow grease and then the easy way. Mix 2 cups of vinegar and one cup of baking soda and put the mixture in a garbage bag with your grates and let them soak overnight, you’ll have clean grates.
20. Lighting the Propane Grill
If you are using a propane or natural gas grill, it is important that you open the lid first. If you attempt to light it with the lid closed, gas can build up inside and blow the lid off! Next, slowly turn the tank on and give the gas a minute to travel through the gas line. If you have the automatic push button start, press the button until it ignites.
19. Lighting a Charcoal Grill
If you are not using a charcoal starter chimney, arrange your charcoal in a pyramid shape and pour the lighter fluid all over the coals. Wait a few minutes to allow the fluid to soak into the charcoal. Once lit, wait 10-15 minutes until the fire dies down and the charcoal begins to turn white along the edges of the coal.
18. Get Your Grill Hot
Before grilling, it is important that you allow it to get hot. Wait about 15-25 minutes. This will kill off any bacteria on the grates. Your grill should be between 400-450 F degrees for high, 350-400 degrees F for medium-high, 300-350 F degrees for medium, and 250-300 F degrees for low heat.
17. Make Sure Your Food Doesn’t Stick
If you are grilling something that will stick to your grates, do not use cooking spray on a hot grill. Instead, use vegetable oil on a paper towel. Use tongs to rub the vegetable oil on your grates.
16. Get Organized
Being organized while grilling isn’t just for looks. By lining up your food, it will be easier for you to know what went on the grill first, what needs to be turned over next and what needs to be removed first.
15. Getting Your Grill Marks
The signature of a grill perfectionist is the grill marks on the food. And it is true, we eat with our eyes first, so presentation has a lot to do with grilling. The key to perfect grill marks is to have a piping hot grill. Put your meat on the grill diagonally for a few minutes and then give it a quarter of a turn.
14. The Tenderness Test
There is an unscientific test to use to determine how tender the meat is on the grill. Use the picture above to help determine if your meat is raw or well done.
13. Use a Thermometer
If you are unsure about the hand tenderness test, use a meat thermometer. I received a grill thermometer for my birthday several years ago that uses an app on my phone. It really allowed me to up my grilling game.
12. Beware of Carry-Over Cooking
By using the chart above with the tenderness test or thermometer, you can avoid serving raw or under cooked food. One area most grillers forget is that the meat continues to cook even after it has been removed from the grill. This is called carry over cooking. Remove your food about 10 degrees before the desired temperature to avoid this from happening.
11. Don’t Use a Fork
The juices inside your grilled meat is flavor. And when you puncture the meat with a fork, the juices you have worked hard to keep inside bleed out. So it is recommended not to use a fork when removing your food. While this isn’t a cardinal sin, grillers who know, know to use tongs when removing their food from the grill.
10. Direct vs. Indirect Heat
Knowing if you should use direct heat or indirect heat will help your BBQ gaming skills. A simple rule of thumb is this. If the food you are grilling will take less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat. If it requires more than 20 minutes to cook, use indirect heat.
9. Grill Everything
It is easy to get into a rut with your grill. Everyone knows it can handle meat and vegetables, but the grill can be used for pizzas, fruits, salads and desserts. Find a recipe and experiment.
8. Let it Rest
After you have removed your food off the grill, let it rest for a few minutes. Wrap it in foil and allow the juices inside to soak into the meat. Giving the meat this time to rest will give you a tastier dinner.
7. Use a Cedar Plank
When cooking salmon, use a cedar plank. This will give your salmon a great smoked flavor while keeping your fish intact. Shut the lid to the grill and allow the cedar to do its job.
6. Use a Grilling Basket
Grilling baskets come in all shapes and sizes, depending on what you are wanting to grill. To avoid playing a game of chase on your grill, the basket will help keep everything organized. It also makes flipping a lot easier.
5. Black is OK, Sometimes. . .
While a black steak or burger is out of the question, some things on a grill taste better with some burn marks. Vegetables for example taste good when blackened because the char infuses to the skin.
4. Keep Your Kabobs Close
When you are grilling Kabobs, it is important that the items are touching, but not crammed onto the skewer. This will help keep the the ingredients juicy.
3. Don’t Use Water
One of the most common mistakes made while grilling is to use a water bottle to tame the flames. This is dangerous. The water hitting the hot grates can cause the water to splatter and cause severe burning. The best way to tame the flames is to close the lid to the grill, removing the oxygen.
2. Toast Your Buns
The grill is already hot so why not slap some butter on your buns and toast them on the grill? It will give your burger or hot dog just enough flavor to put it over the top. Plus, if you get your grill marks right, it will help with your presentation.
1. Cleaning a Hot Grill
The best time to clean your grill is while it is hot. So after you have pulled everything off and it is resting, clean your grill and get it ready for the next time you will use it.
By following these suggestions, it will help you take your grilling game from guy #1 and #2 up to the guy we all want to be, the guy who can grill without our wives wondering if we will need to microwave our burgers to get them fully cooked!
Follow Brent “the guy #3” McAllister on Twitter @brentonmutually