Now, I am not afraid of fire or touching raw meat, but let's just say I am no professional when it comes to grilling. But this outside food experience is tons of fun and I want that to change. So, if you are like me, then these tips will get you out of the rookie corner!
Heat and Oil
There are two key points in grilling: heat and oil
- Make sure you preheat your grill. Think of it like baking - your cake will bake, but it's just not the same if you don't preheat your oven. The preheating process (don't be scared by the word process!) takes about 15-20 minutes for gas grills and 25-40 if you are using charcoal. Use this time to clean your grill rack and scrape off any leftovers from your last cookout. Just scrub the rack with a long-handed stiff wire brush.
- Once your rack is spic-and-span, lightly coat your grill with a nonstick spray or rub on some olive oil with a rolled up towel.
Depending on what you're cooking, the temperature is important. An easy way to figure out how hot your grill is, is to carefully (I can't stress this enough) put your hand just above the rack (did I say carefully?) and count seconds ...
- 5 seconds = LOW
- 4 seconds = MEDIUM (this is a small fire on a charcoal grill)
- 3 seconds = MEDIUM-HIGH
- 2 seconds = HIGH
- 1 second = CRAZY HOT
For thin or small cuts of meat, like hot dogs, kebabs, steaks, chops, and burgers, you'll want things to be hot and fast. So that's the 2-second level, or HIGH. For fish, chicken with bones, veggies, and fruit, you'll want things on the 4-second level, or MEDIUM.
To flip or not to flip? Flip when it feels right and the food starts to release its yummy juices. It's also good to move your food around the grill for different heat levels.
- Direct Heat: put foods directly over flames if you're searing or want it to cook fast
- Indirect Heat: put foods away from the flames and close the lid if you want to cook more slowly
Ah, the secret of the master grillers. Even though there are general times for grilling certain things, it is still difficult to tell when something is actually ready. Honestly, it is just best to invest in a good old fashion thermometer. Better to be safe than sorry, my friends.
Remember, you can always cook more, but you can't go back in time and uncook your items. Obviously, undercooked meats are deadly but don't let that frighten you away - it's just a reality. So keep your eye on your grill and know that experience is the best tool (plus, like I said, a thermometer).
There you go - a non-headache guide to grilling like a champ! Now, go out there a grill your hearts out!
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