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Summer Grilling Tips and Tricks
Summer Grilling Tips and Tricks
We are grill lovers in this household. On any given night of the week, you will most likely find us grilling out and on other nights we are most likely shopping for things to grill out on the other nights. Our grill gets a workout. Grilling is a fantastic way to cook food, but it can be intimidating if you're new to it. Here are some tips and tricks to help you grill like a pro. Now you can become a grill master if you utilize some of our tips. Grilling season might be winding down for some, but for others, it's just getting fired up! Whether you're a seasoned grill master or a backyard newbie, there's always something new to learn when it comes to taming the flames and coaxing out the best flavors. So, grab a spatula and let's dive into some Summer Grilling Tips and Tricks.
Before You Grill
Buy the best grill you can afford.
Buying a grill can be daunting but finding the perfect grill is the one that fits your needs and budget. Measure your grilling area and don't forget about clearance for lid opening. A small grill (200-300 sq in) is ideal for couples, while a large one (500+ sq in) can handle a crowd. Large grills cater to crowds. If you love searing steaks, a grill with ample direct heat is key. For slow roasts, indirect heat zones are crucial. More isn't always better. 3-4 burners are ideal for most needs, with side burners for extra cooking space. Cast iron retains heat best, while porcelain-enameled are easy to clean. Stainless steel is a good balance. Rotisserie? Sear zone? Smoker box? Choose features that suit your grilling ambitions.
- Gas: Quick, convenient, and perfect for beginners plus busy cooks. Easy to control heat and cleanup is a breeze. Range from $200 for basic models to $2,000+ for top-of-the-line features.
- Charcoal: Adds smoky flavor, but requires more effort to light and maintain. Ideal for experienced grillers and flavor enthusiasts. $50 for simple kettles to $500+ for fancy smokers.
- Electric: Smokeless, low-maintenance, and perfect for indoor grilling. Great for apartments or condos with grilling restrictions but less versatile than gas or charcoal. $100 for basic models to $500+ for premium brands.
- Pellet: Combines smoky flavor of charcoal with convenience of electric and precise temperature control. Great for low and slow cooks and and smoking. $500 to $1,500+ depending on size and features.
Invest in good grilling tools.
When it comes to tools, a long-handled spatula, tongs, grill brushes, grilling forks and an instant-read thermometer are your grilling essentials. Protect your investment from the elements with a grill cover and shield your hands from the heat with grill mitts. Grill mats, covers, cleaning wipes, grilling baskets are other items that you will love using as well. Consider trying flavor-enhancing wood chips, gourmet charcoal and lighter fluid as a backup.
Know your grill. Befriend the heat.
Gas, charcoal, smoker? Each type has its own quirks and techniques. Master the basics of yours for optimal results. Gas grills heat up quickly and evenly, while charcoal grills take longer to heat up but impart a smoky flavor. Learn the nuances of your particular grill. Preheat for 15-20 minutes for even cooking and those coveted grill marks.
Consider your safety.
Don't forget the safety essentials! Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, wear heat-resistant gloves, and use long-handled tools to avoid getting too close to the action.
When You Grill | Summer Grilling Tips and Tricks
Clean the grates.
A dirty grill can stick to your food and ruin your meal. Use a grill brush to scrape off any residue before preheating. A preheated grill is also the perfect time to scrape off any leftover bits with a grill brush. Starting fresh ensures even heat distribution and prevents flare-ups.
Preheat for even heat.
Let your grill get nice and hot (around 500°F for most foods) before throwing anything on. This ensures a good sear and prevents sticking.
Oil the grates.
Oiling the grates right before placing your food helps prevent sticking. Use a high smoke point oil like canola or avocado, and apply it with a folded paper towel to avoid greasy grills. Lightly oil the grates with a high smoke point oil like canola or avocado oil, right before placing your food. Don't oil the food, oil the grates!
Different woods. Different flavors.
Experiment with different woods. Wood chips or chunks add a touch of smokiness to your grilling game. Once your natural briquette has coals (it burned down to embers), you can use flavoring chips like Applewood, Hickory, Fruit woods like Cherry or Mesquitefor unique flavor profiles. We soak our chips in water and then throw them on the grill to create smoke which adds flavor. Don't be afraid to experiment with wood to add different flavors and dimensions to your grilling.
PRO TIP: If you're using wood chips for smoke flavor, soak them in water for 30 minutes before adding them to the coals.
Season before cooking.
We season everything beforehand rather than while it is cooking. This lets the seasons dissolve and really provides an even flavor to your meat. Seasoning once the meat is on the grill could leave a lot of flavor on your grill rather than on your food.
Brine is your friend.
Brining meat adds moisture and infuses it with flavor to meat, poultry, and even fish. From simple salt brines to herb-infused concoctions, the possibilities are endless. Try it for next-level juicy results.
Try different grilling techniques.
- Direct heat: This is for searing and grilling steaks, burgers, and chops. Place the food directly over the heat source.
- Indirect heat: This is for slower cooking and more delicate foods like fish and vegetables. Use a two-zone fire with the food on the cooler side of the grill.
- Indirect grilling with packets: Create flavorful packets with veggies, herbs, and aromatics. Place them on the grill alongside your food for subtle infusion.
- Reverse sear: This is a great method for thick cuts of meat like roasts and brisket. Smoke the meat at a low temperature first, then sear it over high heat to finish.
- High heat sears, low heat cooks: Use direct heat for quick searing (steaks, burgers) and indirect heat for slow cooking (roasts, whole chickens).
Put it all out there. Embrace the different heat zones.
Very often, our entire meal is make on the grill. Think twice if you find yourself using the stove or microwave while grilling out. I found myself microwaving a can of corn while my husband was grilling one night. I stopped almost immediately, made a packet out of aluminum foil and tossed it on the grill with everything else. The flavor was amazing and definitely one of the hits of the evening.
Create different heat zones on your grill. Divide your grill into hot, medium, and cool zones for ultimate control. Sear steaks over direct heat, then move them to indirect heat to finish cooking. Sear over the hot zone, then move to cooler areas for gentler cooking. This gives you the best of both worlds: a juicy interior and a beautifully browned exterior.
Don't crowd the grill.
Overcrowding leads to uneven cooking and steamed food. Leave some breathing room!
Utilize those racks.
If you are cooking several meats at one time, use those racks as a holding area for meats that will be cooked at a lower temperature or for the things that cook quickly. Specialty racks are also a good idea. We have wire baskets for shrimp and veggies, porcelain racks for roasts and chicken, a grill wok and more. There are lots of accessories that can complete enhance your grilling experience.
Leave it alone. Resist the urge to flip.
Let your food cook undisturbed! To get a good sear, you need to leave the meat alone. Flipping too early disrupts the sear and can lead to dry, uneven results. Don't move the meat around too much or you will never get those good grill marks and you might mess it up. Once you grill out a few times, you will learn how long it takes for things to cook. Give the meat time to cook properly and you will be much happier with the results.
Get saucy, but strategically.
Resist the urge to drown your food in sauce too early. Brush it on in the last few minutes of cooking to avoid burning and caramelize the sugars for a delicious glaze.
Create a drip pan.
Line a pan under your food to catch drippings and prevent flare-ups.
After You Grill
Let it rest.
I take the food out about 20 minutes before cooking so that the food is not refrigerator temperature. It cooks faster this way. After grilling, I let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, making it more tender and flavorful. This is especially true with steaks.
Clean your grill regularly.
Let your grill stay hot and then hit it with your grill brush. Nothing tastes worse than a freshly cooked steak that tastes like last week's chicken. Cleaning regularly is crucial for great tasting food.
- Marinate: Marinades add flavor and tenderize meat. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours for tougher cuts.
- Don't overflip: Flipping food too often pushes out the juices and makes it dry. Let it cook undisturbed until it releases easily from the grates.
- Use an instant-read thermometer: This is the only way to ensure your food is cooked through to a safe temperature.
Think beyond burgers and brats.
Vegetables love the grill too! Grill zucchini, peppers, onions, or even delicate fish like salmon for a healthy and flavorful twist.
Don't underestimate the power of online research! Read reviews, compare features, and watch grilling tutorials before you commit. The perfect grill is the one that fits your needs and budget. So grab your tongs, fire up your newfound knowledge, and get ready to sizzle! Check local stores for deals and don't be afraid to negotiate.
Remember, grilling is all about having fun and experimenting. So don't be afraid to get creative and try new things! You're sure to impress your guests with your delicious, flame-kissed creations. With these summer grilling tips and tricks up your sleeve, you're well on your way to becoming the grill master of your neighborhood. So fire up those flames, get creative, and most importantly, have fun! With a little practice, you'll be grilling like a pro in no time! We hope that this Summer Grilling Tips and Tricks post inspires you. Happy grilling!