Memorial Day Weekend is here and that means it’s time to start up your backyard grill or bar-b-que. Whether you are new to grilling or a seasoned pro, we’ve come up with a list of tips that will hone your grilling skills and recipes that will have your crowd asking for seconds. Happy Grilling!
Tip #1: Get it Hot
Let your grill heat up for at least 15 minutes before you start cooking. You want to get your grill nice and hot before you put your protein (meat, chicken, fish, turkey burgers) onto it so that you can sear the outside and get some caramelized flavors. Once the protein is seared on both sides, you can always move it to a cooler part of the grill to cook through without burning.
Tip #2: Brush it off
Once your grill is hot is the best time to brush off all the crusty food residue left behind from the previous grilling adventure. Long-handled wire brushes can be found at most retailers. If you don’t have a brush, you can take a piece of aluminum foil and form it into a ball (do not smooth it out), and then use that to brush off the dirty grill.
Tip #3: Have the right tools
The basic tools you need for grilling include long-handled tongs, a spatula, and a food thermometer. Long-handled tools are safer to use and prevent your hands from feeling the heat of the flames when you’re turning and moving food around on the grill. The thermometer (see Tip #7) will allow you to know when proteins are done. Extra fun tools include a silicon brush for painting sauce onto your food toward the end of the cooking (any sauce which contains sugar will burn if you put it on too early) as well as a grill basket. A grill basket is a metal basket with small holes in it which allows you to cook small items, like cherry tomatoes, that would normally fall through the grates on the grill.
Tip #4: Marinate your meat
Creating a marinade using oil, acid (vinegar or citrus juice), spices and fresh herbs will not only infuse flavor into your food, but it can also prevent the formation of carcinogenic HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) which form when grilling animal protein. You can marinate most proteins for a few hours, but keep the time shorter with fish so that the marinade doesn’t accidentally cook it before it hits the grill.
Tip #5: Oil the Meat
There are two schools of thought when it comes to oiling, which keeps food from sticking to the grill – oil the grill or oil the food. We’ve done it both ways but prefer to oil the food before it hits the grill. If you want to oil the grill, place a neutral oil onto a paper towel and use long-handled tongs to rub the oiled towel along the hot grates.
Tip #6: Create Zones
Most veteran grillers will have sections of their grill that are very hot with high flame (called direct heat), for searing meat, and sections that are a very low or even no flame (indirect heat), in which food can continue cooking without burning. If you have a gas grill, turn on all the burners, but once the food hits the grill, turn off the heat from one side of the grill. After your protein sears on both sides over direct heat, transfer it to the section without any heat, cover and let it continue cooking until it reaches a proper internal temperature.
Tip #7: Know when it’s Done
How do you know when it’s done? Your eyes won’t help you out on this one. Invest in a digital-read thermometer so you can check the internal temperature of your protein to know when to take it off the grill. Some chefs recommend pulling your protein off when it’s 5-10 degrees away from finished because the heat in the meat will continue to rise when it rests (called carry-over cooking). If you pull it off when it’s reached its correct temperature, it will likely overcook while it’s resting. For fish (salmon, halibut, snapper, swordfish, tuna), we use the 8-minute rule: Cook fish 8 minutes per inch of thickness. Shrimp and scallops will usually be done in half that time. Shrimp is done when it turns pink.
Tip #8: Let it Rest
Don’t cut into meat or chicken when it comes off of the grill! Meat needs to sit for at least 15 minutes to reabsorb all of the juices, which will yield a more moist product. When you cut into meat right away, the juices run out of the meat, leaving you with a dry piece of meat or chicken. A juicy piece of chicken tastes far better than a dry one.
Now Grill This!
- Make skewers of chicken, shrimp, salmon, beef, and vegetables. Rub with a little oil, season with some spices, and grill. It’s best to keep the same item on one skewer so that it’s done cooking at the same time. Separate out your protein from your vegetable skewers.
- Grill your salad! Yes, you can grill whole or half a head of romaine lettuce, as well as some cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and onions for a delicious salad.
- Grilled corn: remove it from the husk and rub off the silks with a paper towel. Wrap each ear of corn in some aluminum foil and gril for 10 minutes, turning a few times to prevent one side from burning.
- Buy a whole side of wild Alaskan salmon and place it on the grill skin side down. Season with some sea salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Cover and let the grill act like an oven. Should be done in 20-25 minutes.
- Try making our Beer-Butt Chicken – it’s easy and a real crowd-pleaser.
- Burgers are always easy and popular, but not so healthy. Try our Asian Salmon burgers and Roasted vegetable stack sandwiches.
- Dessert on the grill is possible with our Chocolate-stuffed bananas. The kid in you will be smiling. 🙂