Let’s set the scene: It is 4th of July. Your wife wants you to grill for the whole family. It’s hot. You feel the sun beating down and the pressure rising. You tell her “Of course, I got this”. Let’s be honest, do you? Sure, you know how to grill but… are you a grill master? Don’t look like a fool at this summer’s barbecue, learn how to become a grill master in three steps.
- Get the right tools:
Grill: When looking at grills the first decision you must make is do you want gas or charcoal? I know this is a difficult decision so here are some pros and cons to using each:
- Gas tends to be cheaper than charcoal
- Some gas grills come with extra accessories such as side burners or smoke boxes (which can give you the smoky flavor of a charcoal grill)
- Gas grills have a quicker clean up
- Maybe difficult to move around with heavy gas tanks
- There is a possibility of flare-ups (fire hazard!)
- Gas grills do not get as hot as charcoal grills
- Charcoal will generally have a higher heat than gas
- They are more portable compared to large, heavy gas grills
- You can strategically place the briquettes so some places are cooler than other so you can sear the meat then move it to a cooler zone to finish cooking without the fear of burning it
- Some prefer the smoky flavor that charcoal grills give (this could be replicated with a smoke box on a gas grill)
- Charcoal can get very messy and will require a lot of clean up afterwards
- Possibility of ashes getting into the food
- No additional features
- Must continually add more charcoal to longer cooking sessions.
Choosing between a gas and charcoal grill is a personal preference. You must research both types and choose which one fits best with your grilling style.
Utensils: Basic multi-pack utensils from most big box stores are a great start to your collection of tools. These packs usually include long handled spatula, tongs, and a carving poker ( you can buy some here). Make sure when you are buying these tools, they feel good in your hand and have a little weight to them. To expand your tool set even more consider buying a basting brush, skewers, wood plank, or a grill basket. These extra items will expand your food horizons and impress your family.
- Get Ready
Clean your grill: When prepping for a Barbecue every great grill master properly cleans their grill.
This video from The Home Depot shows you how to properly clean a gas grill:
This video from The Home Depot shows you how to clean a charcoal grill:
Make your own sauce: Now that you have your tools and a clean grill, you must prep and season the meats. If you truly want to become the best grill master, you need to make your own sauce. When you use store bought sauces your grilling will taste like anyone else’s grilling. This homemade BBQ sauce recipe is simple yet delicious. When using a homemade sauce, you can make adjustment to taste exactly how you want it to. If you don’t want to start from scratch try this recipe that gives store bought BBQ sauce a nice boost!
- Start your grilling!
Know your grill zones: When grilling with a gas grill don’t turn on all the burners at the same heat level and when grilling with a charcoal grill have a portion of the grill without any coal. This allows for heat variation. This means you can sear your meat in a high heat section and allow it to finish cooking at a lower heat, so it doesn’t burn and dry out.
Grilled chicken: If you are cooking boneless, skinless chicken breast make sure to pound out the thicker end to make both ends even so the piece of chicken in perfectly cooked all the way through. Next, make sure to season it. No one likes bland chicken so try a rub or marinade. By seasoning before you grill, you won’t have to baste the chicken while it cooks which means more time to relax for you! Chicken is not like steak or burgers; you don’t want it seared so you should cook it at a medium heat. This will avoid burning the chicken and making sure that it cooks all the way to 165˚F.
Burgers: When cooking burgers everyone has their own opinions on the ‘right’ way. But there are some tricks that most grillers agree on: Use meat that is close to room temperature (for even cooking). Next, do NOT press down on the burgers while they are cooking, this causes the burgers to dry out and no one likes a dry burger. And if you do, then press those burgers down. The last trick for the best burgers is to buy good meat. This is pretty obvious; you should buy fresh meat right from the butcher.
Steak: If you have filet mignon taste buds but a chuck eye steak budget. Don’t worry, you will be able to achieve the soft, succulent, and savory steak of your dreams. How you ask? Salt, my friend, lots and lots of salt. Roughly an hour before you grill smother salt all over your steaks (take a look at this article to learn exactly how to do it). Salt will break into the meat to make it tender and juicy. After the salting process is done, throw that steak on the grill and cook it at a high heat so it gets a perfect sear on it.
Hot dogs: You are grilling your hot dogs wrong. I beat right now you are thinking “how is that possible? They are so easy to grill!” Well let me tell you about spiral-cut hot dogs. They look a little like this:
Now I know what you are thinking. Why in the world would I cut into my hot dogs before I grill them? 2 reasons. First, by spiral cutting hot dogs they grill perfectly and the flavors of the grill get all the way through the hot dog. And all those edges get perfectly seared and add an amazing crisp to the hot dog. Second, the space that is created in the hot dog allows for the maximum amount of toppings. So load up on the mustard, ketchup, onions, cheese, and relish with spiral-cut hot dogs.
Let the meat rest: After all the grilling you are going to be hungry. But you need to control yourself and your guests and let that perfectly cook meat rest or else all that hard work will be thrown right out the window. Take the meat off the grill and cover it in tin foil (to keep it hot) and let the meats rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. If you don’t allow the meat to rest, when you cut into it the juices and flavors that could have been reabsorbed will run out not allowing you to eat the most delicious meal of your life.
Now that you have these tips you are ready to become a grill master for your next barbecue
By: L. DiBartolomeo