Grilling Tips for Memorial Day Weekend


Grilling Tips

Grilling isn’t just for meat anymore. You can do virtually all your cooking on the grill – vegetables, foil pouch entrees, dessert, even pizza. Instead of spending sultry summer evenings broiling along with your food in a hot kitchen, why not plan to fix your meals on your deck or patio? Grilling adds no extra fat to your food, takes no more time than conventional cooking, and best of all, clean up is a snap. If you’ve never tried your hand at grilling, it’s time to learn this great American cooking technique.

Gas grills are a lot like gas stoves – turn on the gas and light it. Most gas grills even have temperature settings so there’s no guesswork. Charcoal’s a little trickier, but doable if you know the secrets. For one pound of meat cooked with the direct-heat method (smack over the fire), a good rule of thumb is 30 briquettes. For the same amount of meat using slower indirect heat, you’ll need about 50 briquettes.

Pile your briquettes in a pyramid before lighting. It takes about 20 minutes for charcoal to reach the proper temperature for cooking. It should be about 70 percent covered in ash with a faint glow. Spread the charcoal out so that it extends at least an inch beyond the edges of the food to be cooked.

If you inherited your grill and have no instructions, here’s a time-honored method to determine temperature: hold your hand palm down over the fire about six inches above the coals. Count in seconds how long you can comfortably hold your hand there: 5 Mississippis: 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit; 4 Mississippis: 300-350 degrees; 3 Mississippis: 350-375 degrees; 2 Mississippis: 375 and above.

What equipment is absolutely necessary? You need a good set of spring-loaded long-handled tongs for turning meats. Do not use a fork as spearing the meat will cause it to lose flavorful, tenderizing juices. A sturdy wire brush is absolutely necessary to clean your grill racks. While the racks are still hot from cooking, use the brush to remove stuck-on bits. For turning meat or serving, a long-handled spatula will serve you well. Different sizes of basting brushes come in handy. Skewers come in metal, wood and bamboo varieties. To keep the last two from burning up over the fire, soak them in water, fruit juice or wine for 30 minutes before using. Wire baskets and grids are great for vegetables and items that break apart easily like whole fish filets.

A few basic gas grilling tips:

* Keep your grill clean:  A dirty grill flares up, smokes and leaves a bad flavor on your food. Keeping your grill clean will reduce this problems. This means more than turning your grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes before or after you use it. While most of the grease will get burnt off during these high temperature "cleans", food that falls into the grill and ash deposits k remain until you get down in there and clean it all out. Cleaning your grill completely at least twice a year is a good practice. 

* Remove and properly dispose of grill ashes when cool. When mixed with water, ashes can eat through metal.

* Control flare ups. When you do have a flare-up, move the food away from it and let it burn with the lid up. If the fire spreads you might need to evacuate the grill, but the trick is to let the fire burn off the grease and get rid of it as quickly as you can. If your fire gets out of control, remove the food, turn off the burners and the gas at the take. Leave the lid open and let the fire die down on its own.

* Heat and Sugar: Sugar burns at 265 degrees F (130 degrees C). If you are cooking foods with sauces or rubs that contain sugar you need to keep your grilling temperature below this temperature or your food will burn and blacken.

* Watch your grill!

* Have plenty of fuel.

* Food Safety: Successful grilling means safe grilling. Make sure that you practice food safety ​with everything you cook. This means simple things like bringing food in on a different plate than it went out on. Making sure that you cook meats to a safe temperature, particularly ground beef (see Meat Temperatures for more information). Also keep your cooking area clean and sanitized.

* Use the correct temperature. Just because your grill goes to high doesn't mean you have to cook everything at that temperature. Thin cuts of lamb, pork or beef including burgers should be cooked hot and fast. More delicate items like fish, vegetables, and chicken should be cooked at medium on your grill's dial. Roasts, whole chickens, and thick, large cuts should be cooked at lower temperatures, indirectly. Use the temperature for the food you cook and be patient with the cooking times which will be longer at lower temperatures.

* Searing: Searing is one of the secrets to great, grilled flavor. It doesn't lock in juices like many people say but what it does do is caramelize the surface of meats making a flavorful, crisp surface that. This process works with most any cut of beef, lamb of pork. To achieve this, start with a grill has hot as it will go. Put the meat on and wait one minute. Flip and reduce the heat. The high temperature will caramelize the surface of the meat. Once this is done you want to cut back on the heat and continue cooking until the meat is done.

* Indirect Grilling: Indirect grilling is the secret to untold versatility with your grill. While direct heat is great for cooking hot and fast, indirect grilling lets you grill whole chickens, large roasts, and even bake bread. All you need to do is turn off the burners that sit directly under what you are going to cook. If you have a large multi-burner grill this might mean the left and right most burners with the middle burners off, or one side on, one side off. Meats can be seared first by direct heat, then moved to indirect heat to slowly roast. This will give you the ability to cook moist, tender meats at lower temperatures without burning the outsides.

Grill Maintenance: Performing regular maintenance on your grill will not only keep it working better, but help keep it working longer. This process starts with a good clean out of your grill and continues on to a full inspection of all the internal parts. Check the burners particularly to make sure that the ports (holes where the flames come out) are not plugged. If they are, use a thin wire or pipe clean to clear any obstruction. Blocked ports cause uneven flame and can cause your burners to fail. While you are in there check the igniters to make sure that you are getting good spark so your grill lights properly.

* Arrange food at least ¾“ apart for even cooking.

* Keep children and pets away from the grill when it’s in use.

* Set up your grill on a flat even surface.

* Don’t store extra gas tanks under or near your gas grill.

* Don’t wear loose, flowing clothing when working with fire.



** Some tips above from by Derrick Riches, 1/29/2017