There’s nothing quite like cooking food over an open flame! The techniques are simple, cleanup is easy, and grilled food tastes amazing. There are a few basic rules, but after that, it is your skill and style that will make you a griller.
Keep Your Grill Clean
Many people simply turn the grill on high for 15 minutes to let the heat burn off the grease or then scrape off any residue from the grill grates. Using a grill brush will help remove stuck-on food. Lightly coat cooking surfaces with cooking oil when clean. Deep clean the grill at least twice a year.
Always check your tank level and have a backup. Have everything you need for grilling such as the food, marinade, basting sauce, seasonings, and equipment on hand and near the grill before you start grilling.
Be Food Safe
Practice food safety with everything you cook. Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Don’t cross-contaminate. Use separate, clean cutting boards, plates, and utensils for raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods. Keep your cooking area clean and sanitized to avoid any cross-contamination.
Make It Sear
Grill marks are like badges of honor throughout the world of barbecue. Cooking spray or oil is the secret ingredient to gorgeous grill marks. To sear, preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature. Spray or brush oil on the meat. Put the meat on and wait 1 minute and then rotate it 45 degrees and sear again. This will give it an attractive crosshatch pattern. Flip the food and repeat. The high temperature will caramelize the meat’s surface. Once this is done, lower the heat, or move the meat to a cooler spot on the grill and continue cooking until done.
Gauge Grill Temperature
Thin cuts of beef, lamb, pork, and burgers should be cooked hot and fast. More delicate items like chicken, fish, and vegetables are best cooked at medium. Roasts, whole chickens, and thick, large cuts of meat need to be cooked at lower temperatures. 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.
The proper way to turn meat on a grill is with tongs or a spatula. Never stab the meat with a fork unless you want to drain the flavor-rich juices that leave you with dried-out meat.
Tame the Flames
Flare-ups are a result of a cooking fire and should be controlled. Always try to keep a portion of your grill empty so you can move the food should a flare-up occur. When you do have a flare-up, move the food away from it and let the flare-up burn off with the grill lid up.
If your fire gets out of control, remove the food from the grill and turn off the burners and the gas. Leave the lid open and let the fire die down on its own. If this does not work, close the lid to starve the fire of oxygen. Salt, baking soda, and a fire extinguisher will smother the flames.
Take the meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. The cooking time will vary based on the grill temperature and how you like your meat cooked. Use a food thermometer to know when the food has reached a safe internal temperature and when it’s time to take it off the grill. Insert the thermometer from the side of the meat.
U.S. Department Of Agriculture Recommended Minimum Internal Temperatures:
- Beef, Lamb, Pork (steaks, roasts, chops) – 145°F
- Fish – 145°F
- Ground Meats – 160°F
- Poultry (whole and ground) – 165°F
Give It a Rest
Let food rest before serving to ensure tender and juicy results. Allow five minutes for small cuts of meat and up to 15 minutes for larger steaks and roasts.
While grilling is easy, you want to make sure that you have the essentials down. It is important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food borne illnesses.