Indirect heat and distancing food from charcoal is technically called barbecuing, whereas grilling puts food right on the flame, giving it the flavor everyone seems to love so much.
Choose a Grill
The first step to successful grilling is to choose the type of grill you’re comfortable using. Charcoal and gas or a combination of both are the most common types of grills, so you may want to consider how much outdoor space you have and mobile you want to be.
Select the Right Foods for Grilling
- Fruits are great options for grilling, whether they’re selected to pair with meats or as a showpiece for unique desserts.
- Chicken and small birds such as quail or Cornish hens are scrumptious when cooked over fire. Remove the backbone and flatten large birds so they cook quickly and evenly.
- Most fish are firm enough to stay intact over flame: tuna, salmon, red snapper and sea bass are great options.
- The best beef cuts for the grill are hangar and flatiron steaks, ribs, loin cuts, bone-in rib eye and skirt steaks, which cook quickly and are perfect for fajitas.
- Lamb options are endless and include shoulder, loin and butterflied pieces.
Prep Foods for the Fire
- Bring foods to room temperature for about an hour before grilling.
- Keep flavors simple by delicately spicing marinades, sauces and rubs. Over-spicing can dominate the simple, delicious flavors produced with grilling when most fresh cuts of meat can do well with quality salt, fresh pepper and olive oil.
- When making homemade marinades and sauces, use little sugar or oil because they will cause meats to burn quickly.
- Soak wooden skewers in water for about 30 minutes prior to use to prevent burning. Alternatively, place a sheet of aluminum foil directly on the grill grates to prevent the skewer handle from weakening and burning.
Understand Heat & Cooking Temperatures
Foods can be grilled directly over the heat source or slightly off to the side, which is known as indirect grilling. Foods taking longer than 20 minutes to cook (i.e. whole chickens, large fish filets, and bone-in pieces of meat) should be cooked using the indirect method. For smaller pieces of meat such as kebobs and delicate fish, grill over indirect heat to avoid burning on the outside and under cooking the inside.
Turning food at the right time is important to avoid burning. Food turned too often may break apart the fibers and will often cook unevenly, resulting in tough meats.
Once you start the grill keep the lid closed so that it can warm up properly. Do the same if cooking anything longer than 20 minutes, opening only when necessary.
At the Grill
- Keep grill grates clean and lubricated at all times during the cooking process by rubbing them with vegetable oil or cooking spray prior to cooking.
- Brush all foods modestly with oil before placing on grill grates.
- Don’t force the turning any food. If it needs to be forced, it’s not ready to turn.
- Food evenly spread out on the grill will cook more evenly so don’t overcrowd it.
- Sauces with honey, molasses or brown sugar should be applied during the last ten minutes of cooking to avoid burning.
- Let meats rest for about 10 minutes after cooking to retain juices.
Tips for Safe Grilling
- Trim the fat on meats to avoid flare ups
- Never apply cooking spray to a lit grill
- Keep grills far away from your home and any other wooden structures like fences and cooking wood
Enjoy the Experience
At the end of the day, grilling outdoors is about time well-spent, gathering with family and friends during enjoyable weather over good food.
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