Grilling is almost as much a part of the American culture as apple pie and baseball. Cooking up a delicious meal on your backyard barbeque can be a lot of fun and can make a summertime get together a big hit with your guests. Knowing the proper grilling techniques to get the most out of your barbeque will go a long way towards ensuring that the food you prepare will keep people begging for more.
The first thing to remember when grilling is that you should always start with a clean surface. Failing to keep your grill clean will transfer the flavors of your last meal to the food you are preparing. No one wants their steak for tonight to taste like the fish they ate last night. The best time to clean the grates is right after finishing your cooking, while the grill is still hot and easier to scrub clean. A simple wire brush will generally suffice.
Knowing the grill you are cooking with is a must for proper cooking. All grills will have hot and cold spots, and it is important to know where food tends to cook faster than others. Proper location of your food will ensure that everything cooks evenly and doesn’t overcook and dry out. Brush or spray some vegetable oil on the grates to prevent the food from sticking and make sure that you are always working with a hot surface. Preheat the grill at least fifteen minutes before you plan to start cooking.
When grilling thinner pieces of meat, it is best to grill quickly over high, direct heat, meaning that the meat sits directly above the heat source. Remember that the meat will continue to cook even after being removed from the heat, so be sure to remove slightly before reaching ideal doneness. Thicker pieces of meat should be cooked over indirect heat, meaning that it sits off to the side of the heat source, so that the inside has ample time to cook through without burning the outside of the food.
Use sauces and marinades to your benefit. Acid based marinades, such as those containing vinegar, lemon juice or other citric acids will add a welcome burst of flavor and will also help to tenderize your food. Sugar based sauces, such as barbeque sauce, burn very quickly and can cause flare ups, so be sure to add them at the very end of cooking for the best results.
Adding flavor to your fire can add a pleasant new flavor to your food. Mesquite woods burn very hot and at a high temperature and add a light smoky flavor to food. Oak, hickory, cherry and apple wood can be added to an already hot fire for a great smoke smell and flavor infusion. Fresh herbs and citrus fruit rinds can also be added for a burst of flavor to your grilled foods.
Searing food with intense heat can help to lock in the natural juices and flavors of your meat. This method is preferred in combination with a slower overall cooking method. The searing temperature should be in excess of eight hundred degrees to work properly. Once seared, the meat should be cooked on a lower temperature over indirect heat to ensure proper cooking throughout without drying out the food.
Grill marks are sure to get people’s mouths watering. It gives the food a great appearance and really symbolizes grilling at its finest. To achieve perfect grill marks, be sure to handle the meat as little as possible. Rotate ¼ turn halfway through cooking the first side, flip, and then repeat the process on the other side for perfect crisscross marks and even cooking.
Now that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary to make grilling a success, it is time to get out there and put your new found education to good use. Fire up that grill and use the techniques discussed above and you will be producing mouth watering food from your barbeque in no time.