During the summer months you can’t walk or drive through a neighborhood without your mouth watering from all of the cookouts going on. But odds are, not all of those people grilling out are going to produce memorable meals. So, we decided to conduct our own research about what makes for an excellent grilling experience. Our findings are collected here and as you’ll see, it doesn’t take a lot to become a grill master. The next time you plan an outdoor cookout, try these ten simple, but essential tips and see if they don’t change the outcome.
#1: Always Start with Safety in Mind
When you’re cooking out, safety is a must. You want to make sure your gas or charcoal grill is kept well away from your home and your guests. You also want to use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked meats so you avoid contaminating the food.
#2: Don’t Use Prepackaged Meats
It might be surprising to some, but the plastic wrap that is used to store meats at the grocery store causes moisture to become trapped within the package. This isn’t good for the meat and it can depreciate the end result. Instead, become friends with your local butcher or the butcher at your favorite grocery store and order fresh cut meats in paper packaging.
#3: Stick with the Basic Tools
Some grillers have a stockpile of grilling tools on hand when they’re cooking out. But, this is completely unnecessary. All you really need is the basics – a brush and a pair of tongs. With these two tools you can do anything.
#4: Buy the Best Meat You Can Afford
For the best tasting steaks, you will want to choose either USDA Prime steaks or Certified Black Angus steaks. You will also want to check the marbling on the steaks before you buy because the more fat the steak has, the tastier and juicier they will be. If you can’t afford premium steaks, then go with choice-grade steaks and you’ll still enjoy nice, tasty steaks.
#5: Pre-Heat Your Grill and Warm Up Your Meats
Cold meats and a cold grill are two things that can ruin any grilling experience. For the best results, you should give your grill plenty of time to heat up. You’ll know it is ready when you can’t hold your hand above the grates for more than two seconds. You should also take your meats out of the fridge at least twenty minutes before you throw them on the grill. A room temperature steak cooks more evenly than one that is put on the grill right out of the refrigerator.
#6: Use a Grill Basket for Challenging Foods
Some foods can be a challenge to cook on the grill, such as fish, small vegetables, tofu, and fruits. But a grill basket can help you solve this problem. Cook these and other challenging foods in a grill basket and your cookout will go off without a hitch.
#7: Control the Flames
When you cook over fire, the fat that drips from the food can cause intense flare ups. The problem is that when the fire roars up, it causes carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form on the surface of the food and this not only bad for your health, it can also cause the food to taste off. Therefore, you need to pay mind to the flames and keep them under control by adjusting the flame and using a water spray bottle to manage the flare ups.
#8: Know When to Take the Meat Off the Grill
While all of the above tips are essential, none are as important as knowing when the meat is ready to come off the grill. You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat or you can use the touch test. When you use the touch test, the meat will feel firm when it is well-done, it will spring back when pressed when it is medium-done, and it will feel soft and spongy when it is rare. You need to take the meat off the grill at the right time in order to enjoy the best flavor and texture.
#9: Wait, Don’t Dig In Just Yet
You don’t want your guests to start eating the moment their steaks are taken off of the grill. Steaks and other meats need to rest so their juices can settle back into the meat. This makes for a much juicier and tastier steak. So, let the steaks rest for about five minutes before you start slicing into them.
#10: Don’t Limit Your Grilling to Meat
Although steak, chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs are the usual grilling subjects, don’t let that stop you from trying something new because there are a lot of foods that you can cook on your grill. For instance, how about making a side of cheesy grilled potatoes with bacon? Another tasty side dish is grilled Brussels sprouts with a balsamic dipping sauce. Or, maybe you want pizza? No problem, you can grill pizza quick and easy. What about dessert, you say? Cinnamon sugar grilled peaches is easy to make and a delight to eat. Or, try making chocolate and marshmallow BBQ bananas or campfire apple s’mores nachos. Check out Omni’s Pinterest board on Grilling Recipes & Tips for more ideas!
With the tips above, you’ll become a certified grill master and the envy of your block!