We grill not just to sustain ourselves with food, we have sewn grilling into the social fabrics of our lives. We love the flavours, the smokey aromas, the endless opportunities to spend time with family and friends or celebrate a game.
We have learned that we can grill anything, from vegetables and meat to seafood and fruit, There is nothing we can’t figure out how to grill to help us celebrate.
If you conquer the grilling basics you can cook like a pro.
START AT THE BEGINNING
The most important decision you are going to make is the purchase of the grill itself. That grill will help determine how your food choices turn out. Grill time, temperature, fuel consumption, direct and indirect heat and of course, safety.
Let’s Count Them Down.
6. THE GRILL
You may already own a grill and if you do, there are still some tips to help you get the most out of it. If you’re in the process of buying a grill you’ll want to consider a few things: What kind of food do you think you’ll be grilling? Family meals or just summer BBQs. What kind of quantities of food do you think you’ll cook? Grill real estate is an important factor in any grill decision.Where do you plan on grilling and will it be year round?
Your budget may determine your choice. If you are only grilling occasionally and smaller cuts of meat, a small, portable charcoal grill like an hibachis or small picnic grill is probably sufficient.
More mouths to feed? That means larger cuts of meat, perhaps year round grilling and a large covered grill on the list of needs.
Thinking about one of the covered cookers? These kettle shaped gems let you roast, steam, smoke, or cook whole meals in any season of the year. The lids feature draft controls and there are also some on the base which help control the temperature. Need to reduce the heat? Close the dampers. Open them to increase it.
Covered grills allow the heat to reflect off the inside and cook the food evenly keeping moist. Gas grills are more convenient because of fast starts, accurate heat control, easy year-round use, less labor-intensive clean up and even cooking.
Got your Grill picked out? Next step:
5. TOOLS TO GET THE JOB DONE RIGHT
There are not a lot of tools used in the grilling process but the ones you choose can make a difference in the quality of your grilling results.
Apart from the grill, there are very few tools used in the grilling process. Concentrate on a few of the essentials to ensure you are barbecuing safe and your results are consistent.
Long-handled utensils, such as tongs, basting brushes, and spatulas considered long handled utensils and re used to lift foods on and off a grill rack that is very hot. Utensils for basting and turning also have long handles to keep you from getting burned. Other tools to consider are meat thermometers which are the best way to determine the safe temperature for doneness of meats and poultry. Safeguard your hands and forearms with heavy duty mitts to prevent burns. Never grill without them.
Use metal or disposable foil drip pans when grilling meats to help with flare-ups. Choose a pan about 1-1/2 inches deep and about 3 inches larger than both ends of the meat. Use those juices ftp, the the drip pan for gravy or a thin sauce to serve with meat.
Other useful tools include hinged wire baskets which are designed to hold more delicate foods like fish, shellfish, and vegetables that tend to stick or break up when turned. These baskets not only protect them but save you time from not having to individually turn small food.
Sometimes simple tools can be the best for saving time. Skewers are indispensable – choose bamboo (always pre soak in water before use to prevent burning) or metal.
And no cook should ever be without aluminum foil. Wrap vegetables in pouches for cooking, use as splatter guards under meats.
4. WHERE THERE’S SMOKE THERE’S FIRE
Time and temperature. Two elements that help determine a good grilling result. Always ensure your grill is on a safe, solid surface away from overhangs, bushes and anything flammable.
Learn what you need to light the grill. Familiarize yourself with your grill and proper lighting methods. while there is far too much information to list in a single article the basics are these.
A charcoal grill requires a certain number of coals for a good fire and you need to take into consideration wind, cold temperatures and humidity. A good rule of thumb is about 30 coals to grill one pound of meat under good weather conditions.
For a gas grill, ensure the lid is up to avoid a build up of gas. Ensure the burner knows are off. Turn on the gas – if you have an auto ignition, you may need to turn on one particular burner. If you need to light the grill through the ignition hole and it doesn’t light right away, do not keep attempting to light it. Turn the burner off and wait for the gas to dissipate a few minutes before trying again.
3. GET DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TO THE POINT
You won’t grill a steak the same way you would grill fish. Food size and type will determine your grilling process using direct or indirect heat. A steak for instance would take direct heat and is placed on the grill directly over the heat source. You can leave the burners on high to sear the steak and then turn them to mid range to finish cooking.
For indirect grilling you’ll want to keep the grill cover closed and allow the food to cook for a longer time at a lower temperature.
Maintaining appropriate temperatures achieves great grilling results. The longer food needs to cook then the lower your cooking temperature should be.
Refrain from raising or lowering the lid because it can drastically change inside temperatures. Controlling the temperature on gas grills is simply a matter of adjusting the knob settings. It’s a bit trickier when cooking with charcoal. A grill thermometer can be a really good investment, but there are some simple — though less reliable — techniques that grill chefs have been using for centuries.
One quick, easy way to estimate the temperature of the coals is to cautiously hold your hand, palm-side down, about 4 inches above the hot coals. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away.
1. MARINADES, RUBS AND SAUCES
That delicious smokey flavour comes as much from the recipe as it does the process. You need to be creative about that smokey taste, how sweet, how sharp, how hot and how it compliments the food, seafood or vegetable or fruit you put it on.
You can baste, rub, marinade or dip sauces to compliment your grilled foods. Some are meant to enhance flavours, some are meant to tenderize and some are meant for after grill dipping. Choose and use them well by experimenting.
Are you ready to grill like a pro? Why not surprise everyone. Here’s a list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Grill. Try one of them and get ready to be called a grill master!