Grilling season is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get back on your grilling game. For seasoned grillers, getting back into grilling season is a lot like riding a bike. Once that grill is fired up, it all comes back naturally. For those of you who are feeling a little rusty, and looking to juice up your grilling game this season, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to get you going.
What are your thoughts? → The Great Grilling Debate: Charcoal vs. Gas
1. Take Care of Your Grill
Some brave souls choose to grill all year long. The rest of us leave our grills out in the cold for most of the winter, which is why it’s important to maintain your grill before firing it up for the season. Click the link below for more information.
Related Read: 3 Steps to Get Your Grill Ready for Spring
2. Get Your Grill Hot
Make sure to give your grill 15-25 minutes to preheat before you start grilling. This will ensure it reaches the right temperature and kills off any bacteria before you start to cook. Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium, and 250-300°F for low heat.
3. DON’T Put a Lid on It
Never light a gas grill with the lid closed. Why? Leaving the lid closed can create gas buildup and eventually turn your grill into an impromptu explosive device. Yikes!
4. Make Sure Food Doesn’t Stick
First thing’s first, never use cooking spray on a hot grill. However, if you’re cooking food that tends to stick, take a paper towel, soak it with vegetable oil, and run it over your grill grates with tongs before you start.
Helpful Tip: Another easy way to oil your grill is to chop an onion in half and put it on the end of a long grilling fork. Dip it in oil and run it across the grill grates for easy oiling!
5. Get Organized
Lining up your food in neat lines isn’t just for looks! Organizing your food neatly on the grill helps to keep track of what went on first, when to turn which foods, and when to take them off.
6. Make Your Mark
Trying to perfect crosshatch grill marks? The key to a good sear is a piping hot grill, so make sure you give your grill time to preheat. Next, once your grill is sizzling hot, lay your meat on the diagonal, leave for a few minutes, and then give them a quarter turn to get perfectly uniform grill marks.
7. The Tenderness Test Is in the Palm of Your Hands (Literally)
If you struggle with getting the perfect temperature for your meats on the grill, use this easy guide (pictured to the right) to help! While it’s not 100% accurate, it will help you to get an idea of where your meat is at in the cooking process.
Helpful Hint: You can always throw the meat back on the grill, but you can’t un-cook meat once it’s overdone. If you want to test the temperature, we suggest pulling it off the grill earlier rather than later.
8. Get a Meat Thermometer
If you’re worried the palm test won’t work, or you’re worried about the effectiveness, you can always play it safe with a meat thermometer. Make sure to follow meat thermometer guidelines to get the most accurate temperature reading on your meat.
9. Beware of Carryover Cooking
While meat thermometers give you the ability to cook meat to the perfect temperature, don’t forget about carryover cooking! Carryover cooking happens in the 10 minutes after meat is taken off the grill. With this additional cooking time, it’s important to pull your meat off the grill about 10 degrees before it hits the ideal temperature. That way, in the 10 minutes of carryover cooking, your meat can rise to the perfect temperature while resting and letting the flavors redistribute!
10. Take It off with Tongs – NOT A FORK!
We’ve all been there. The tongs are out of sight and we reach for a flimsy fork to pull the meat off the grill. If possible, avoid taking your steak off the grill using a utensil that will puncture the meat. This can allow those flavorful juices you labored over to escape! While this isn’t a make it or break it tip, it can only make your meat better.
11. Direct vs. Indirect Heat
If you’re unsure whether or not to use direct or indirect heat while cooking on the grill, there’s a simple rule of thumb to remember! If the food you are cooking takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat to be safe.
12. Barbecue & Beyond
The grill isn’t just for meats and veggies. Get creative with your grilling game by trying out unexpected methods on your favorite dishes. We’re talking fruits, pizzas, salads, and desserts galore all prepared on the grill.
Related Read: 3 Things You Never Thought You Could Grill
13. Grill Your Steak & Let It Rest
In order to keep steak juicy and tender, make sure you take it off the grill, cover it with foil, and let it rest for several minutes after cooking to seal in the flavor.
14. Try a Cedar Plank for Grilling Salmon
If you’re looking for a way to “smokify” your salmon, try grilling it on a cedar plank! Cooking it on the plank, and shutting the lid of your grill, will perfectly infuse your fresh fish with smoky flavor, while allowing it to remain intact and tender.
Related Read: 5 Types of Pacific Salmon Every Seafood Snob Should Know
15. Get a Grilling Basket
Up your grilling game with a grilling basket. This will help with foods that fall through the grill grates or that are too much of a hassle to turn over one by one.
16. Better When Burnt
Perfectly browned typically beats burnt to a crisp. However, there are a few exceptions that are better when blackened or blistered. Vegetables such as peppers or eggplants taste better with burned skin because the char infuses the tender layer below with a smoky, fresh off the grill flavor.
Related Read: 5 Flavorful Veggies to Try on the Grill Tonight
17. Keep Your Kabobs Close
When cooking kabobs on the grill, make sure your ingredients are touching each other, but not crammed on the skewers. This helps keep your kabob ingredients juicy.
18. Toast Buns & Bread on the Grill
Ditch the toaster oven and add some flavor-packed grill marks to your buns or bread. Lightly butter the bread, or buns, and throw them face-down on the grill. Be sure to watch them carefully so they don’t burn!
19. Don’t Use Water to Tame the Flames
If you have flare up flames, it is most people’s instinct to tame these using a bottle of water. However, when water hits the hot grates and open flames this can cause water to splatter and lead to dangerous burns. The quickest way to extinguish flames that flare up is to put the lid on the grill to cut off oxygen and snuff out the fire.
20. Clean Your Grill While It’s Still Hot
It’s much easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so be sure to take advantage of your grilling brush right before and right after each grilling session.
Looking for more helpful hacks? Check out McGonigle’s blog! If you’re looking for something specific, stop by the store or give us a call at (816) 444-4720 and we’d be happy to help!