Independence Day is right around the corner and that means summertime grilling! Whether a seasoned (get it?) veteran or a new face to the grilling scene looking to practice some of that old-fashioned #adulting, these tips should provide just the reminder/advice you’re looking for this weekend and beyond.
1. Be Prepared
Widely considered a good piece of life advice, it’s particularly helpful for all your cooking adventures, especially those of the grilling variety. Have everything at the ready before you get started. Stage the scene, preseason everything before you get started and then execute.
2. Bring the Heat
Get the grill preheated 20 to 25 minutes prior to cooking. It will allow the grill to come to an even temperature, which helps you control the cooking process, and will kill bacteria on the grill. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive breakdown on monitoring the grill temperature, check out this post from Serious Eats.
3. Oil up the Grill
Just like with your stove, food can stick to the grates of the grill if the grill isn’t properly oiled. Use a pair of tongs to rub a paper towel soaked in cooking oil over the grates. It should go without saying that you DO NOT want to use cooking spray on a lit grill.
4. Food Safety
Summer heat, raw meat and distracting outdoor activities don’t really mesh well together when talking about food safety, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the proper precautions in your food prep and avoid any issues in the process. Don’t pull out raw meat/poultry until you are beginning the cooking process. Keep raw meat/poultry cool, but separate from other food and be sure to check the internal temperature of your masterpieces when taking them off the grill using a thermometer, to ensure they are cooked through. Consult the infographic below, from eatright.org, for additional food safety tips for your cookout.
5. What’s Smokin’?
If you are smoking food for your cookout, keep the wood in water for about an hour before using it. Here are some basic tips on smoking, courtesy of Weber.
6. What Heat?
Use high, direct heat for steaks and burgers. Use low, indirect heat for larger cuts of meat.
7. Control Flare-ups
Fat-drippings from food on the grill causes flare-ups, which aren’t ideal when grilling. Flare-ups lead to a burnt charcoal taste and take away from your efforts to create your very best-tasting culinary creation. The way to combat flare-ups? Keep a spray bottle filled with water nearby to extinguish any fires that are too close to your food.
8. Grill your Sides
Chalk this up as more of a suggestion rather than a tip or safety concern. If you’re already rockin’ the grill scene, flipping burgers, steak, chicken or any number of main courses, why not get the side dishes in on the action? Use a grill basket, skewers, foil bags or other pans to get your side dishes over the grill grates and take advantage of the hot grill.
9. Use the Vents
Courtesy of GearPatrol.com:
Al fresco cooks often don’t realize the importance of their grill’s venting system. Vent openings both above and below the fire aid in controlling not only the temperature of your grill, but the way in which your food cooks. Fully open vents on both sides create more heat, and by rotating your lid to change the placement of your open top vent, you can control the speed of your cooking. Whichever side the top vent is opened above will cook faster than the unvented side. If you want to create a convection effect, like you would a turkey in an oven, place your top vent opening on the opposite side of your bottom vent opening.
Keep track of your cooking time and pull off when needed. As a general rule, it’s best to be a little quick pulling food off rather than late. Check the internal temperature with your thermometer and, if needed, you will be able to put the food back on the grill a little longer.
Finally, eat and enjoy your cookout! You’ve earned it!