Spring and summer are grilling times and I have a few tips for you on grilling.
Grilling is different than barbecue. Barbecue is wet, I mean the sauce is on it, it’s a lower temperature, around 400 degrees. Grilling is a hot temperature.
Some electric and gas grills have a thermometer on them to help you more. But grilling is 500 degrees. Not 600, you’re going to turn your stuff to charcoal in a heartbeat. But you want to get the grill hot.
For those of you that are real charcoal nuts and I like charcoal too, but I like the gas or electric grill a little better because it’s quicker and easier.
If you want to get a wood smoke flavor to your meat that’s easy to do too. Just get your wood chips and I know there’s a controversy over dry or wet. I like to make them wet. You don’t just throw them on the grill.
Take an aluminum foil pan or something like that, put your wood chips in there, put a cover over it, poke a few holes in it. You’re going to get the smoke and you’re going to get that wood flavor.
Let’s talk about tools. The right tools for the job.
Long handled tongs and I like a restaurant-quality. Avoid ones that you get in the five-and-dime store because the first time you pick up a piece of meat with one of these and it falls on the floor. No good.
Buy a spatula and the tongs. Most of these kits are going to come with a fork. Throw it out, it’s no good. You’re poking holes in the meat, you’re letting all the juice run out.
How do you know how well done something is. A lot of people like to use a meat thermometer and I use it on some things but I don’t use it on grilling. I’m going to tell you a little bit later how to tell how well done a piece of meat is just by touching it.
So back to some of the basics.
Make sure your grill is clean. Think about sanitation. Say you’re doing chicken. You pick up the chicken with your tongs. Don’t go grabbing it again with the same tongs. What I use, I got a bucket of water and vinegar. When I’m done, I rinse it off. I don’t have soap residue on tongs so I’m not going to contaminate the meat, but the vinegar helps sanitize tongs.
When you are done cooking your meat, do not put it back in the same container, put it on a clean plate. That’s very important, don’t put your cook meat back on the plate where the raw meat came from, unless you’re going to wash it first.
Let’s talk about seasoning now.
You can do a dry rub on your meat or you can do a marinade. You should do this at least an hour ahead of time. I make my own concoction. I do salt, pepper, garlic and Old Bay.
If you get a thicker piece of meat that you’re going to grill, no matter how much seasoning you put on that, it’s only going to cook in about an inch. So you rotate it around. That’s why you seasoned all around it.
The same with baking at home. Say a turkey or whatever. The seasoning is only going to go in an inch, no matter how much you put on.
Next thing is get the grill hot.
Start the brazier first. You want to have a two heat system. The brazier is going to seal everything, then I’m going to move the meat to a cooler temperature. So I’m going to go from about 550 to 500, not much cooler but it is.
With a gas or electric grill you’re ready to go in just a few minutes.
Avoid flare-ups. If you’re doing burgers for example, you’re probably going to get a flare-up or two. Don’t use the spritzer water on a gas grill! That’s just dangerous! Move the food off to the side, close the lid, smother the fire. Don’t use water on a gas grill!
Make your own hamburgers. Don’t buy these preformed burgers. Have you ever seen how those things are made? Well I have. They go between two metal plates at about a thousand pounds of pressure and get stamped out. They’ll have the flavor and the juices gone out of it.
Make your own burgers. When we make ours, I put onions and green pepper in it and mushrooms. Be creative.
When you are working with your meat, grab it, do not stab it. Try to flip only once. When we do this on the brazier, we’re going to brown it, we’re going to flip it, then we’re going to move it off to the side. I’m going to let that sit there and cook till it’s whatever you want it done.
Pork should be done at least medium well. Most people think it has to be super well done. Don’t overdo them guys. Trichinosis is almost a thing of the past.
Once you’re done, let it rest a little bit. Get a glass of wine, relax, give it at least 5 minutes to rest.
And what most people do? They pull it off, they slap it on the plate, they start cutting up, all the juices are running out, all the flavor is running out. Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time.
Once your grill is hot, you are ready to go.
Let’s take for example pork chop. If you push on it, you will see that it stays indented, it’s raw, it’s staying indented.
Put it one the grill. The key thing is when you push in, you see how that doesn’t spring back. But when it’s medium, that’s going to spring back a little bit more. When it’s well done, it’s going to be pretty solid to the touch.
Close the lid and don’t keep lift up, down, up, down. You’re letting all the heat out.
Flip it over, wait a couple more minutes, then move it over to lower heat. Shut the brazier off and wait a few more minutes for that to finish off.
I forgot to mention grill basket. This is fantastic. It’s for your vegetables, green beans, anything like it. It’s the same thing with grilling them. Marinate them at least an hour ahead of time, drain most of the oil off, if you’re using any kind of oil because you don’t want to flare up, all that’s going to do is give you a burnt flavor.
Put them in the basket, let them sit a little bit, don’t play with it, especially mushrooms, then just shake it a little. Vegetables are done.
If you handle the meat while it was still a little rare, go and sanitize your tongs with vinegar water again.
Your meat is done when it’s nice golden brown.
More Grilling Tips
Always season the meat. The first thing with your proteins is get those salted early. Give them a little time to absorb some of that seasoning. You want to go low salt. What I would do is go just very light but do it on both sides.
Vegetables are an awesome thing to go on the grill but they need a little help. You want to make a nice marinade and this can be really simple. A nice coating of olive oil. You don’t want to be shy here. Some salt, a little bit of pepper, flip a little fresh basil and just a little splash of some vinegar. The portobello mushroom is a great thing to get on the grill.
For corn, you got to get it out of the husk, get some oil and seasoning directly on that corn and put it right on your grill grates.
When you’re setting up your grill, we want to think about having zones. One side of my grill is really hot, another side of my grill is more medium. It’s not like a stove, you can’t turn it up and down all the time.
Take a little paper towel and dry meat off. That moisture is going to slow down the browning on your grill.
Put it in about the center of your grill to cook it not too fast, not too slow.
Grilling chicken can be a little bit tricky. You want to make sure that you get those beautiful grill marks but you don’t want chicken that cooks too long and dries out. So put it right down on the hottest part of the grill. That’s going to make sure you get good grill marks and the meat doesn’t stick and then you can move it over to your lower heat to finish cooking through so that it stays nice and juicy.
For hamburgers, they shouldn’t get any seasoning until just before going on the grill. I like a good medium-rare burger so I’m gonna get this on a nice hot spot in the grill, get a beautiful brown on there quickly and I get it off.
Grilling fish can be really tricky and it can stick very easily on a grill. So you want to make sure that your fish is oiled and your grill is really well oiled and you going into a nice hot spot on the grill. Go about two and a half to three minutes per side on your salmon.
Finally we can get on our veggies. These are going to cook pretty quickly. So I typically save these until last. Veggies are ready to eat right away.
Everything that we cook on grill, we are not messing with it. I’m not messing with the fish, I’m not messing with the burger. Put stuff down and let it cook.
Cutting meat on the grills and you let all of those delicious juices run right out and they’re lost forever. Even worse is taking your meat off the grill, cutting it open to check doneness and then throwing it back on. If you need to cut something off to help it cook more quickly, do it before you put it on the grill.
Your hand is your best guide for doneness. A light squeeze of two fingers together: your thumb and your point finger is going to give you medium rare. And then a tight fist is well done or you can use a thermometer for 165 degrees internal temperature.
When the steak is done, take it off the grill and get it right onto a rack to rest. It’s going to help that steak cool evenly on both sides and keep all those delicious juices inside the meat.
When you’re grilling, you want to make sure you’ve got the right tools for the job. Burgers and fish need a spatula to support them when you turn them on the grill.