Monday, June 4, 2012

Grilling 101

Photo credit - http://shindigzparty.files.wordpress.com

Summer is right around the corner and a favorite for many is grilling and dining outside.  I know it is a favorite of ours and we try to dine outside at home as much as we can. So, time to clean up the grill after the long winter under its cover (for some) and fire it up. If you are not familiar with the different types of grilling, I have some information here that may help you to get cooking outside.

There are some things to consider before you start. The type of meat, fish or vegetable requires the right temperature so that it doesn't burn and get over cooked. There are two types of grilling; Direct grilling and indirect grilling. Direct grilling, which the grill lid is up, you are cooking at a high temperature (500 degrees) and fast. This technique is used to sear meat and it creates a crisp and carmelized texture to your foods. Such foods that you would cook this way would be thin cuts of steaks, chops, kabobs, hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages and vegetables and delicate seafoods, like squid.

Then there is indirect grilling, which is similar to roasting in your oven. According to Grilling and Barbequeing, by the people at Cook's Illustrated magazine, there are two categories to this method of grilling - grill-roasting and barbequing. Grill-roasting is best for foods that are already tender, like chicken or beef tenderloin and fish. To grill-roast the temperature of your grill should be between 300 and 400 degrees. Indirect grilling this way is with the lid down, it seals in the heat, and is good for such meats as roasts, thicker chops and steaks too. Then there is barbequing, which is the method of low and slow cooking on your grill and is usually meant for ribs, brisket or pork butt. Barbequing allows the the cut of meat to render its fat, thus becoming tender. The barbeque technique requires that the temperature is between 250 and 300 degrees. Next time you are thinking about grilling, think about what you are cooking and which method will give you the best result. So, keep calm and grill on!

Grilling Basics

  • Start with a clean grill: Removing remnants of last night’s dinner and thoroughly cleaning your grill will decrease the chance of flare-ups and over-charring food. Using a grill brush, thoroughly clean the grates and remove food remnants. Empty the drip pans and ash-catchers to start with a clean slate!
  • Apply non-stick spray or a light coat of olive oil on the grates before turning on the grill: a well-oiled surface will keep food from sticking.
  • Use a meat thermometer and take the guess work out. Using a thermometer will make you less likely to overcook your meat and will give you the courage to go ahead and pull it off the grill! No more serving “rubber chicken.”
  • Don’t puncture or “press” on the meat. We’ve all seen people on the grill “flattening” burgers with a spatula — don’t do it! This squeezes all the juices out and dries out the meat.
  • Don’t micro-manage the meat. There is only need to flip one time per side to get optimal char marks. No need for constant flipping. Also, opening up the grill too often lets the heat out! Remember: “if you’re lookin’, it’s not cookin!”
  • Food will continue to cook after it is taken off the grill. Take the meat off a few minutes before it reaches the desired “doneness.”
  • Let the meat “rest”. When you take the meat off the grill, “tent” it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will let the juices in the meat redistribute for optimal moistness.
Grilling Basics was by Robyn Medlin, who is the ‘Grill Girl’ behind the popular GrillGrrrl.com, where she focuses on healthy and fun recipes, and innovative grilling ideas.

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