Memorial Day has come and gone meaning the official arrival of summer is just around the corner. Looking to hit the ground running when it comes to kicking off grilling season? Here’s a closer look at seven tips aimed at helping you maximizing grilling greatness in 2017.
1. Shop Smart
In the perfect fantasy world, a successful afternoon or evening cookout consists of tossing some scrumptious selections on the grill. However, in reality it takes a bit of planning ahead — particularly if you’re aiming to transcend ordinary meal territory into extraordinary meal territory.
It all starts with choosing the highest quality ingredients because, as a wise man once said, “If your meat can’t stand on its own, then maybe it shouldn’t be on your grill.” But why leave it up to chance by shopping at your hit-or-miss local grocery store when you can stock up on everything from barbecue to burgers courtesy of gourmet mail order food company FoodyDirect? They source their offerings from the country’s very best restaurants, butchers, barbecue joints and artisans and deliver them direct to your door.
Not to mention that stocking up now saves time in the long run so you’ll be spending more time on summer fun and less time at the supermarket.
2. Choose the Right Method
While today’s grills may come with lots of bells and whistles, grilling is still at its core a simple concept dating back to the discovery of fire. Choosing the right methods, however, can help you serve up the tastiest foods. Not sure whether to use a direct or indirect cooking method? Grilling expert and author of Taming the Flame Elizabeth Karmel shared this handy rule of thumb with BHG.com: “If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use direct heat; if it takes longer, use indirect heat.”
3. Crank It Up
Cooking foods at the right temperature can mean the difference between dazzling and disappointing your diners. Recommends EatingWell.com, “Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). 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. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking. While searing doesn’t ‘seal in’ the juices (contrary to popular belief), it does create improved flavors through caramelization.”
Confused about proper cooking temperatures? Advises The Spruce, “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.”
4. Have a Hands Off Approach
This may sound strange, but if you’ve done your prep-work, it’s time to step back and let the grill do its thing. As grilling expert and author of Weber’s Way to Grill: The Step-by-Step Guide to Expert Grilling author Jamie Purviance told BHG.com, “After you marinate your steaks, pat them dry on both sides. Wet steaks don’t swear; they steam. Also, resist the temptation to lift the lid and turn the steaks over and over. You develop the richest flavors in steaks when you leave them alone as much as possible, turning them just once or twice.”
5. Give It a Rest
While you may be tempted to dig in as soon as the meat comes off the grill, allowing for adequate cooking time is essential. Continues Karmel, “Giving cooked food time to rest is the key to juicy, perfectly cooked meat. The resting process allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat. I prefer to let my meat rest uncovered, because the covering causes the food to steam and can make the golden brown crust or skin soggy.”
6. Put Safety on the Menu
Everything from grill fires to cross-contamination can quickly put a damper on any meal. Luckily, there are some simple steps cooks can take to minimize grilling-related safety threats, including designating specific cutting boards and utensils for raw meat; keeping coolers out of direct sunlight and closed when not in use; serving cooked food with tongs and on clean plates; watching your grill; marinating foods in the fridge — not on countertops or outdoors; discarding used marinates; having a squirt bottle at the ready in case of flare-ups; and checking to make sure no bristle brushes have loose or lost bristles which might end up in your food.
Lastly, remember that no food should sit out for more than two hours — or one is the thermometer spikes above 90 degrees. Not sure whether your meat makes the grade? Here’s one last tip: When in doubt, throw it out.
7. Clean Up Your Act
While the last thing you want to do after cooking and serving a meal is cleaning up after yourself, you’ll be glad you did the next time you’re ready to fire up the grill. Sooner than later is best, when it comes this task. Says EatingWell, “It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris from prior meals. Scrape again immediately after use.”
One more reason to keep your grate clean? You’ll have neater, more appetizing grill marks.
Memorial Day may have come and gone, but summer hasn’t even officially started yet. These tips can see you from the early days of the season through Labor Day and beyond. Browse our mouth-watering barbecue and assortment of foodie-friendly favorites today. Looking for even more of a grilling fix? Check out our comprehensive guide to all things barbecued and beautiful, “The Ultimate BBQ Faceoff.”