Hello fellow foodies and grill mates,
Here in California we’re heading out to our yards, checking out our grills, and getting ready for the grilling season. We hope people in other parts of the country will be doing the same soon! A perfectly grilled steak and a few ears of sweet and tender corn make us contented campers or happy backyard cooks, as the case may be. Yet we’ve probably all been subject to steak that’s tough as shoe leather, medium-rare chicken, or overdone fish. Oops! It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or a master, we all make mistakes, so we’re here to share a few of our tips that will hopefully get you grilling with success throughout the summer!
1. Get yourself a chimney starter. Forget the lighter fluid or even the match-light coals. We used to use those, but not since we tried the chimney starter, which works like a charm. No more gas-flavored hamburgers for us!
2. Let those coals get gray before putting your food on the grill. It may take some patience if you’ve got a crowd of hungry people to feed, but if you start cooking before your coals are ready you may not get the results you desire. If you’re using a gas grill make sure you preheat the grates sufficiently (10 minutes or so) before cooking, otherwise your food will stick to the metal. Not good!
3. Don’t forget to clean your grill grates. Burnt-on layers of food also contribute to the sticky factor when preparing food on the grill. But don’t bother cleaning it when you’ve got hungry mouths to feed or at the end of the evening when the grill has already cooled down. If you use your grill regularly, clean it up the next time you fire it up!
4. Try cooking with indirect heat. This means setting up the coals on one side of the grill and leaving the other side empty. If using a gas grill, light the burners on one side and leave the other side off or on very low heat. You’ll have much more control over cooking when you can move your food items from one side to the other. Sear meat and veggies on the hot side then move them to other side for gentler cooking. This is especially useful during flare-ups!
5. Don’t keep opening the lid! This again is where patience comes in handy. “Is it done yet!” is not a good mantra. If you’re cooking on a gas grill, opening the lid will make it cooler. If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, opening the lid will make it hotter. Some outdoor chefs like to flip their burgers and meat several times to get those lovely looking charred grill marks. That’s okay as long as you know that opening and closing the lid is adding inconsistencies to your cooking temp.
6. Use those vents on your grill to control heat. It’s all about adjusting the flow of oxygen which in turn adjusts the heat inside your grill. The Gourmet Girls use their nifty Volcano grill a lot and the venting system is crucial to how long the coals will last and the amount of heat it provides.
7. Add barbecue sauce toward the end of cooking your chicken or ribs, or any other fare for that matter. You’ll get just as much flavor without the risk of burning your food to a crisp or giving it a bitterness that will turn up the noses of your foodie guests.
8. Use a thermometer to tell when the meat is done. Sounds simple, but too many people cut open a piece of chicken or meat to see if it’s done or they poke it with their fingers to test it.
9. Let meat rest off the grill for a few minutes before serving. If you want serve it really sizzling, you can put it back on the grill for 30 seconds each side. Ta-da!
We’ll keep you posted with more grilling tips as we make our way through the season. In the meantime, bon appetit!
Gail, Denise & Lindsey
The Gourmet Girls on Fire