With the warmth of summer comes grill season, and there’s nothing quite like some juicy steak, burgers, chicken, pork and other delicious meats sizzling on the grill. While grilling is enjoyable and makes for some delicious meals, there’s one aspect of grilling that never ceases to cause frustration at the grill and ruins many meals. Having food stick to the grates of the grill makes grilling difficult and can easily cause the food to burn. Luckily, there are several ways of preventing food from sticking to the grates in a grill.
Keep the Grates Clean
Burnt food and grease on the grill will cause new food to stick to the grates like glue. Some people believe that old burnt food particles and grease on the grill adds more flavor to the next food that will be cooked on the grill, but most people believe that it doesn’t positively affect the flavor at all. It does more harm than good to both the food and the grill to keep it dirty. Clean the grates thoroughly before and after use to ensure that no stubborn food or grease forces other foods to stick to the grates.
When it comes to problems involving one thing sticking to another, good lubrication is typically a good solution for getting the two unstuck and ensuring they don’t stick together again. Keeping food from sticking to grill grates can also be solved with proper lubrication. The tricky part is knowing how to lubricate properly. Some people use grill spray on the grates before cooking. However, this can easily cause flare-ups both before and during cooking. Flare-ups can easily cause quick burns to the meat, and they can also cause injuries to anyone near the grill.
Other people like to coat the grates with vegetable or olive oil with a paper towel before cooking to prevent spraying or dripping oil into the grill. While this is a better alternative to sprays, this can cause the meat to taste funny or stick even worse if the oil is kept at high temperatures for long periods of time. This is caused by the oil carbonizing after prolonged exposure to high temperatures while sitting on metal.
The best option seems to be drying off the outside of the meat with a paper towel and gently coating the meat with some olive or corn oil. This helps prevent carbonizing the oil as well as flare-ups.
Some people make the mistake of believing that their food needs to constantly be flipped in order to avoid burning and sticking. Unless you have a habit of keeping the grill at unreasonably high temperatures, this is not needed. Flipping is required in order to ensure that the food cooks evenly and doesn’t burn, but you should really only need to do it once or twice. Flipping with a spatula that has a thin blade also allows for easier flipping while avoiding accidentally shaving off pieces of the meat that could easily stick to the grates and burn.
Using Sauces Properly
Sauces are the cause of a lot of burnt food and filthy grates. Many sauces are filled with sugars that quickly caramelize due to the high temperatures of the grill. This causes the food to stick to the grate, and the sauce will soon burn up afterward. You can avoid this by purchasing sauces with low sugar content or by choosing to add the sauce to the meat right before the meat is done cooking.
Pre-Heat and Pre-Cook
Another common mistake in grilling is putting the meat on the grill before it’s properly pre-heated. Waiting until a grill is pre-heated before adding the meat allows the meat to cook properly and evenly without sticking while also searing the meat.
Pre-cooking and proper thawing practices can also help prevent sticking. Having both the grill and the meat at closer temperatures help prevent sticking and burning. In addition, cooking partially frozen meat essentially guarantees burning and sticking since the outside is cooking while the inside is still frozen. By the time the inside is thawed and starting to cook, the outside will be overdone or burning.