Summer is coming up soon, and everyone who owns one is likely dreaming of getting the outdoor grill ready for the summer barbeques. Outdoor grilling can be a fun family or friend activity during the warmer months, and grilling meats and veggies make for more flavorful foods.
Good outdoor grilling begins before you start up the flames. Let’s look at some pre-grilling hints and tips first.
1. Marinate meats for grilling.
Marinating meat before you grill can actually reduce your cooking time, because the marinade is designed to tenderize the meat, not to mention the flavorful marinades you can purchase or make yourself to give your meat a kick. If you marinate before you grill, try to let the meat marinate at least 2-4 hours for the best flavor and tenderizing results.
2. Skewered meat and vegetables for grilling.
When using skewers to grill meat and vegetables, it is important to cut the meat into similar sized pieces to ensure even cooking on the grill. When grilling meat and vegetables on the same skewer, ensure the meat is smaller than the vegetables and well tenderized before grilling, so that the vegetables, which will cook faster than the meat, don’t burn before the meat is done. It’s also important to ensure the pieces are big enough not to fall through the grill.
3. Hold off on the sauce before grilling.
Sauces are great for flavoring meat when grilling, but if you put them on too early, they will burn or brown quickly, making a mess of the grill and not really adding much flavor to the meat. Hold your sauces until the grilled meat is almost done, then add them at the end for the best flavor.
4. Separate your meat and veggies before grilling.
Chicken has to cook on the grill at a higher temperature than steaks do, but it should also cook faster if properly defrosted before grilling. Vegetables will take the least amount of time to grill, so they should be saved for the end, especially if using a charcoal or wood grill, because the fire will be lower and less likely to burn the vegetables. Start with your meat items that take the longest to cook, then add the rest of the items to the grill, taking into consideration the time it takes for each item to cook.
Now that the pre-grilling food preparation is completed, the next step is to prepare your grill for cooking.
1. Clean the grill surface.
There was an article on the internet that indicated not cleaning your grill after every use was good practice for more flavorful meats and to achieve those sought after grill marks.
That would be similar to using the same pan on your stove every time you cook without ever washing it. The meat that is cooked on the grill is food, perishable, and leaves behind organic matter that can be the breeding ground for all sorts of nasty problems.
Always clean your grill before using it, especially if it is stored outside in between uses, and then clean your grill after using it too. In fact, if you clean your grill cooking surface immediately after use, while it is still warm, it is much easier to clean than if you wait.
2. Charcoal lighting.
This article won’t even attempt to address the long-standing debate over how to stack charcoal, but it is important that the charcoal be lit about 20-30 minutes prior to adding the food to the grill. This is especially true if using lighter fluid or self-lighting charcoal that contains a type of lighter fluid in the bricks. The lighter fluid needs time to burn off before the food is added. Plus, this helps the charcoal be at the right temperature for the food when it’s time to start grilling.
Grilling safety is important, especially down in the south/southwest where summer temperatures put many counties into burn ban status each year and fires can start easily. It only takes one spark or an unsupervised child knocking a small grill over, an animal playing around the grill – you name it – to start a fire that can cause major damage.
Fires aren’t all that can go wrong with grilling either. Grilling safety is important, so be sure to follow these grilling safety tips when grilling this summer:
1. Never leave a hot grill unattended, even if there is no food on the grill.
Always ensure the charcoal or fire on the grill is completely out or burned down before leaving the grill unattended or storing it.
2. Whenever possible, always grill on a flat, stable surface, preferably concrete or treated wood.
3. Ensure the grill is far enough away from brush, dry grass, tree limbs, flammable items, and your own home. Flames can sometimes rise higher than expected, so try not to grill under an awning or porch cover.
4. Keep a water hose or portable fire extinguisher that’s properly rated for your grill’s fire type nearby in case of accidental fire.
5. Have a cell phone or portable cordless phone near the grill in case an accidental fire gets out of control.
6. Keep small children and pets away from the grill, and ensure balls and swings and other outdoor toys cannot hit or knock over a grill.
7. To avoid burns, use tongs and grilling gloves that are flame retardant whenever you must check the grill, light the fire, or turn the food.
8. Never use the same plate that held the uncooked meat to place the grilled items on when cooked unless the plate has been thoroughly washed first.
9. Do not let children use or stand near a grill. Children are usually at eye level or close to the surface of the grill, where the temperature is much hotter than where an adult would stand. A child can be burned very easily, a spark can ignite hair, or a grilling flare could singe and burn tender skin.
10. Again – because this is so important – never leave a burning grill unattended. It only takes a moment for a fire to start and burn out of control.
If you follow these grilling tips, you are sure to have a fun and safe summer outdoor grilling experience with flavorful food and a fun outdoor activity. Enjoy your barbeque grilling!