The grill is equal parts cooking appliance and show stage. Of course you want to create a mouth-watering meal to die for but you also want to look good doing it. You may assume it is daunting to grill like the pros. You’re probably half right. Becoming an expert at something takes a lot of time, dedication, and practice but with a little guidance you could be off to a great start. If you are looking to up your grill-game and become a grilling master, here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
1. Get Your Grill Hot
Make sure to preheat your grill prior to introducing any food. Depending on the grill, times may vary, but typically if you heat it up 15-20 minutes prior to cooking, the grill will be properly heated. The goal here is the instantly sear the food on contact. This will help maintain moisture and keep everything moist. Searing your food also caramelizes the food and adds a whole new level of flavor.
2. Keep the Troops in Line
Of course you have the mandatory tools at the ready – tongs, grill brush, spatula, digital thermometer and barbecue mitts – and you want your backyard presentation to look professional. Create cook zones in your grill for direct and indirect heating and know what temperatures the various meats, vegetables and fruits will need to be cooked at that day. Be aware of how temperatures react whenever the grill lid is opened or closed. With this game plan, line all the foods in neat rows and send them to the fire with military precision.
3. Grill Marks Are Your Signature
Not just a matter of style over substance, grill marks announce to the world your mastery of the art of grilling. Meat should be flipped once and once only and with tongs. Rotating is acceptable but do nothing to disturb the juices. Execute the single flip at an angle to create the perfect cross hatch grill marks. Do not slice into a steak to evaluate doneness of meat – learn when a steak is ready by how firm the flesh feels with your finger and a digital thermometer for verification.
4. Be At One With the Meat
Know all the nuances of the different cuts of meat. Top cuts require little seasoning beyond some salt and pepper. Lesser cuts need marinading and care to achieve the same “wow” factor. Slice all meat across the fibrous grains to unleash the juices. The cooking process will not end when the grilling does. Internal temperatures will rise about ten degrees after being removed from the grill so a medium-rare steak should be pulled from the fire at 130 degrees and allowed to “rest” for five minutes to reach the desired 140 degrees. Cooking pushes juices to the center of the meat and this time-out before serving will give the juices time to redistribute and ensure a tender and juicy steak.
5. Smoke Ring
For slow cookers, the smoke ring is the badge of honor. On barbecued meats the smoke ring is that pinkish outside coloration that to the uninitiated appears to be undercooked meat. For grill masters it is anything but – it is the emblem of barbecue done well.