Even while just thinking about writing about grilling, my mouth begins to water. The thought of foods brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt or marinated in its juices, searing away on the grill, sending that unmistakable scent of grilled foods wafting down the street makes my salivary glands go into hyperdrive. Couple that with the thought of perfectly charred foods eaten with friends on hot night with the far away evening sounds of crickets and music - OH, be still my heart.
With Summer almost under our belts and Fall creeping up around the corner, now is the perfect time to grill, grill, grill. Then do some more grilling. Fruits like peaches and pineapple. Any and all veggies, but especially corn and onions. Flaky fish or Swordfish steaks. Ribeyes, bratwurst, chicken breasts. There is nothing the grill can’t handle.
We wanted to offer up some grilling tips to ensure your meal is the best it can possibly be. But, hey, you’re already putting it on the grill, which is really all you need to do to make any meal incredible.
Here are our top ten tips:
1. Clean it up. Always keep a clean grill. Unless you want your ribs to taste like last week’s salmon surprise, keeping a clean grill ensures your food tastes like what it should and not like the rat that moved in to eat the leftovers you forgot to clean away.
2. Keep it close. Have all of your grilling essentials nearby, this includes ingredients, tools and your cocktail. This essential step can save you from a burnt meal, because that chicken isn’t going to wait to burn while you run inside to grab a plate.
3. Grease it down. Coating your grill rack with vegetable oil or nonstick spray helps make cleanup a breeze. We all know cleanup is the worst part of the meal, so don’t make it hard on yourself. BUT - beware...do not spray the grill racks while the fire is going, unless, of course, you want to go to this year’s Halloween Party as Fire Marshall Bill.
4. Play it safe. Speaking of safety measures, don’t dump water on gas grill flare-ups, just close the hood and turn down the heat until the flames subside.
5. Keep it hot. Preheating your grill prevents food from sticking, yes even when the grates are greased, and keeps food looking beautifully grilled and not like wild animals were clawing at it.
6. Don't flip out. Yes, it’s essential to turn your food to promote even cooking, but if you’re out there flipping your burgers every 4 seconds, chances are you are turning your meat into bricks. Even folks who order well-done (ugh) don’t want meat bricks. Most fish and meats only require one good flip halfway through the cooking process.
7. Stay cool. Fruits and veggies generally burn more quickly than thick, juicy meats so stack those babies around the outer edges of the grill where the temperatures are a touch cooler than the middle.
8. Marinate. When it comes to flavor, go ahead and marinate your foods for at least an hour, preferably two, before they hit the grill. Granted, if it has grill marks it’s already gonna taste good, but letting those spices soak in will make you the Wolfgang Puck of your backyard.
9. Watch it. Try to avoid going inside for a quick episode of Modern Family when you’ve got food on the grill. If Terminator has taught you anything, machines can have a mind of their own and grills are no exception. Avoid burnt food and fires by keeping an eye on your food.
10. Hold up, wait a minute. If your dish requires sauce, don’t go dumping it onto the grill. This can cause major flare-ups, the burnt sugars in sauces affect the taste of the dish and it can cause a mess in your grill - remember rule #1?? Baste meats near the end of grilling time and apply sauce when serving. And please, for the love of God, do NOT cut your meats the moment they are removed from the heat. Meats need to rest, so give them a solid 5 minutes, preferably a little longer, to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. This is what makes meats super juicy.