10 Barbecue and Grilling Tips
Summertime is grilling time. There’s nothing like bringing your kitchen outdoors, firing up the grill, and cooking your food using the methods of our ancestors. Embrace BBQ season to its fullest and use these tips to help you become the grill master of your neighborhood.
1. Be prepared and organized
Preparation and organization are the keys to reducing frustration and wasted time while cooking. Make sure you have easy access to everything you need before you begin: fuel, seasonings, meats, veggies, essential tools, plates, napkins, utensils, etc. You don’t want to keep your hungry guests waiting!
2. Strike when it’s hot
A critical step for grilling success is to preheat your grill for 15-25 minutes. Preheating ensures that the grill is at the optimal temperature to cook and sear the food thoroughly. Preheating will also help kill any bacteria, remove prior residue from the grate, and prevent food from sticking.
3. Keep it clean
Black crust, rust, and old grease and oil can really affect the taste of the food – in a really bad way. To prevent this unwanted and sometimes unsafe “flavor enhancement,” it is important to keep the grill clean. When your grill is hot, use a metal spatula to clean the grate. The intense heat makes it easier to scrape off charred debris. Be careful if you use a grill brush since bristles have been known to come off, get into food, and be swallowed. You can also follow these directions for cleaning a grill with aluminum foil.
4. Know the right temp and time
When it comes to grilling, some foods like it hot and some like it searing. Be sure your grill is heated to the proper level so that it cooks your food thoroughly and safely without burning it. Need some guidance? Check out this Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Grilling infographic that lists many types of meats and vegetables along with their proper cook times and temperatures.
5. Prevent sticking
To help prevent food from sticking when cooking, you can oil the grate. Soak a folded paper towel with oil and use tongs to rub on the grate before placing food on top. Do not use too much oil – you do not want it to drip. You also do not have to oil the grate if the food is already oiled.
6. Understand the difference between grilling and barbequing
While you use a grill or BBQ for both grilling and barbequing, the cooking techniques are actually different. Grilling is cooking food fast over direct high heat. Grilling sears the outside of the food, but leaves the inside tender. To barbeque means that you are cooking food slowly, over a lower, indirect heat for a longer period of time, sometimes hours. Meats become tender and flavorful. Understanding the distinction between the two techniques can help when following recipes.
7. Marinate for health and flavor
Did you know that marinating meat not only adds flavor to your food but it’s also good for your health? When cooked at very high temperatures, meat, fish and poultry release potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to the American Institute for Cancer, the acids in marinades seem to have protective qualities that can reduce the formation of HCAs and PAHs by as much as 96%. The acids also have been shown to slow the growth of unsafe bacteria. Visit AllRecipes for some mix and match marinade ideas and great tips.
8. Turn the meat correctly
Puncturing meat with a carving fork during grilling will cause the meat’s flavorful juices to drip out. Turn the food with a spatula or tongs instead.
9. Think safety first
There have been many tragic accidents due to the incorrect use of grills. Follow these tips to keep you, your family and guests safe when barbecuing:
- Never grill indoors, that includes garages, tents, trailers, etc. Propane and charcoal grills are made for outdoor use only. Using a grill indoors can cause carbon monoxide to accumulate which can be deadly.
- Always read the owner’s manual and keep it for reference.
- Turn off the grill prior to doing any maintenance or work on it.
- You want to fire up the grill, not your home. To prevent fire hazards, keep the grill at ground level and in a well-ventilated area away from the house, deck railings and overhanging leaves and branches.
- A gas grill should always be opened before lighting it.
- Never leave any grill unattended.
- If using a charcoal grill, always let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
For more grilling safety tips, view this guide from the National Fire Protection Association.
10. Grill desserts
Why limit yourself to grilling meat, fish and vegetables? Use your grill to create sweet and delicious desserts! Try making grilled cinnamon peaches with pecans and ice cream, BBQ banana s’mores, caramelized grilled pineapple, or grilled pound cake. Grilled desserts are the perfect finishing touch to any picnic or BBQ!