A flexible grill basket like this one from SurLaTable.com makes it as easy to flip fish as burgers and steaks.
Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Meat & Poultry
Tips For Grilling
Ten Top Tips From An Award-Winning Barbecue
& Grilling Team
Want to rock the grill?
Smoke In Da Eye, an award winning competition barbecue and grilling team, has 10 tips for grilling that will take your cookout to a new level. (Also check out Bobby Flay’s Grilling Tips.)
1. Light my fire...with a charcoal chimney. When starting the fire, consider using a charcoal chimney instead of starting the coals directly in the grill. The air flow created by the chimney creates a much faster start. Simply fill it to the top with charcoal; light underneath by igniting either a crumpled sheet of newspaper, a cooking oil-soaked paper towel or a fire starter cube. Within 15 minutes the coals will be ready for grilling.
2. Tool time: long handled tongs. One of the most effective and multipurpose tools one can have when grilling is a set of long handled tongs. In addition to allowing you to flip those steaks and burgers while remaining safely away from the flames, they’re also useful as a grate cleaner (grasp a ball of tin foil in the tongs and scrub the grates clean) or to oil the grill (grasp a ball of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil and wipe away).
3. Be one with your grill. Grill early, grill often. The more you use your grill, the more comfortable you’ll be trying items other than hamburgers and hot dogs. By knowing its hot spots, how temperatures react when you open and close the lid and other nuances, you’ll be making grilled pizzas and rack of lamb in no time.
4. Go for the chips. When cooking on a gas grill, add more depth of flavor by wrapping a handful of wood chips (available at most hardware stores, major grocery chains and online) in a double layer of foil. Poke a few holes in the foil with a fork, and place the foil packet under the grates. The chips will slowly smolder, releasing flavorful smoke from this inexpensive “smoke bomb” while ensuring a quick cleanup. Chips are available in different woods: apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite and pecan are easy to find. Here’s how to pair wood chips with foods.
5. Don’t flip out: Let it be. Many people have the urge to poke, twist and flip grilled items every 15 seconds. Resist the urge and limit turns to no more than two per side. Meat, fish or poultry that normally stick to the grates will release naturally, while the food will be able to absorb all the great color and flavor the grill has to offer. Don’t press down or stab the meat: The juices will run out. Your goal is to keep them in.
6. On the rise. Just because your beautiful steak or pork chops is done grilling doesn't mean it's finished cooking. Due to carryover heat, internal temperatures will increase roughly 10 more degrees after being removed from the heat, meaning a medium-rare steak should be pulled at 125-130°F rather than the desired 135-140°F.
7. Go against the grain. Finding ways to take tougher cuts of meat over the top is central to the art of grilling and barbecue. But despite having the perfect recipe and the perfect execution, your brisket,flank steak or flat iron steak is still going to taste like a dry, chewy shoe if you don't slice it across the fibrous grains that run through the meat.
8. Wait a bit: The juice is loose. The cooking is complete and it’s time to eat. Or is it? Let the meat rest 10 minutes so the internal juices have time to reabsorb into the meat. Otherwise, they’ll flow all over your cutting board (or on the plate, if it’s a single serving burger or chop). Observe this tip and the result will be a more tender and juicy piece of meat.
9. The doctor [you!] is in. If you don’t already make your own barbecue sauce, create a signature sauce by doctoring your favorite store-bought brand. Add layers of flavor: sweet (fruit juice, fruit preserves, honey and/or molasses), heat (ground chiles such as ancho or chipotle) and tartness (apple cider vinegar or balsamic).
Let it rest before you carve. A cedar plank like this one, from Sur La Table, imparts a smoky flavor.
10. Beyond the protein. Grilling doesn't have to be an all protein affair. Impress your friends and family by poking several holes into a disposable aluminum pan and filling it with cauliflower florets, sweet potato slices, halved figs or stone fruit, or countless almost any other fruits and vegetables. Add some olive oil and seasonings. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, tossing the contents periodically until caramelized and tender.
Founded in 2006, Smoke In Da Eye is an award winning competition BBQ and grilling team, earning many awards in competitions nationwide. The team’s founder and pit master, Clint Cantwell also serves as the guest editor for Grilling.com.
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