Of all the grilling tips, we really need to start at the beginning: the good ol' maintaining and cleaning of your grill. It is really about being prepared for safety, food safety and for the health and life of the grill. Having a system of burning off and brushing what has been grilled and keeping the grate oiled are important steps to a lonnnng life of enjoying outdoor cooking.
While we have the heat of the coals to cook off what is on there- especially on a charcoal grill. The goal is to make sure that it is ready and clean for the next time we use it. Most likely tomorrow!
Having your best grilling tools to do the job right is a pretty important grilling tip. We have our favorite accessories that are for specific kinds of food that are set up and ready before we even put the food on whether is is smoking, BBQ or simply grilling.
One more barbecue Tip: We have our favorite tool for each kind of food.
How to light a grill is easy when you have a gas grill. It is a bit more complicated with lighting a charcoal grill but really a snap when you have the right tools handy. There has been some bad press on using lighter fluid so most grillers today ought to have a chimney starter. They are better, just as fast or faster and no adding odd flavors.
Now your grill is lit and you have your tools all organized, food is marinating or ready…
Lets get started with cookin' up this meal and the differences with techniques.
Yes, there is a difference! It is all in the way we use the grill, this is where it becomes an art because often we will use more than one technique depending on the food.
Here's another grilling tip: thicker cuts of meat or vegetables and fruit that need a bit more time to caramelize them after we have seared them.
For that seared look on the food, this is the easiest and quickest way to prepare our favorite meal over the hot grate. It can be so healthy too! Using marinades, rubs and brines, then brushing them with olive oil. Sear the juices in and …mmmm can you taste it?
Then, there are the all important direct and indirect grilling techniques!
Grilling is usually using that hot flame as a direct way to cook. We are usually after those grill marks that lock in the flavors. Grilling can be so easy ! Which in our busy lives is definitely why we so often decide to grill. We have plenty of reasons to love it- if not just for the sheer convenience.
Grilling this way (direct grilling) can be very healthy, depending, of course, on what sauces or salsas we end up putting on it by the time we get it in our mouths.
Direct grilling is used to make thinner or quicker-cooking foods like: fish filets, boneless chicken breasts, steaks, chops, kabobs, some vegetables and fruit using high heat and no smoke. As a grilling tip rule of thumb...The typical cut of meat ought not to be more than ¾ inches think to cook the food evenly. This is using high heat. Anything thicker is usually marked and then moved to an indirect or lower heat to cook through without burning.
One way of "adjusting" the thickness of something like a chicken breast, a pork chop or tenderloin is "pounding". This can be just to adjust the thickness or as a style for the recipe.
On this grilling tip you will need:
- A heavy cleaver or knife. There are special "pounders" that work great but are not required.
- A sheet of foil or parchment paper at least 4 times the size of the meat to be pounded. You will be doubling it over to cover.
Spread out the foil or parchment papter place it on a stable surface.
Place the meat in the center of one side of the foil/parchment.
Fold the foil parchment over the meat pressing down gently.
Using the flat side of the cleaver, pound down on the meat. It is important to do this evenly to avoid holes and not too hard or else you may create something that looks like a torn rag.
Pound until it reaches the desired thickness.
Gently open the foil/parchment and remove the piece of meat. You may need to replace the foil/parchment, since you do not want bits of non-edibles pounded into you food.
Your food is now even thickness and has the added benefit of being tenderized too. Do be careful on cooking times with pounded product as it can dry out faster than "regular" meat.
Ready to rock!
For a beginner, direct grilling is a great way to start getting the feel for grilling with the fire and grill. A very important grilling tip is to start- you've got to have a very hot fire to be able to sear the food nicely. But before you even put your food on the grill make sure that you are completely prepared in advance.
Have the tools and even the rest of the meal set up and ready to dish. The food on the grill will cook up very fast so you will want to be ready to eat.
On live fire we use a layered kind of charcoal set up to create the hot, medium and low heat. Usually it is done with larger pieces of meat to take time to absorb the smoky flavors that naturally waft from the hot embers.
Layering the briquettes into three heat levels is one of the most important parts of learning how to use a charcoal grill. After the coals are lit, rake the coals so that on one side the coals are double and then down to one layer of coals and then an area without coals.
Or like we did in this photo, rake them in a circle with the hottest being on the outside and the cooler being on the inside.
On gas grills you just make sure you have settings for high, medium, low and even have a space where there is very very low heat. Another grilling tip: Shelving on gas grills really come in handy... this is a great indirect heat source in using shelving at different levels that can be moved up or down to control the heat to a lower level.
Checking your grills temperature is an important precooking step. There are two main ways: put a thermometer on the grill or the old fashioned way: with your hand.The "touch method". Now most guys will likely want to do it the manly way and relieve themselves of all that unsightly knuckle hair while they are at it, but let’s give everyone some rules of thumb here.
- Grilling tip common sense: Be careful and don’t burn yourself while trying this and don’t do it around the little ones, or they will think it is alright to be your thermometers. Not good!
The Hand Grill Temp Test:
Basically the amount of time you can hold your hand over the zones on your grill will give you a range of temperature that is fairly accurate unless you are superman or a firefighter.
Less than 1 second Very Hot Grill 600 degrees or more
1 to 2 seconds Hot Grill 450 plus degrees
3 to 4 seconds Medium Grill 350 plus degrees
5 to 7 seconds Medium to low 325 plus degrees
8 to 9 seconds Very Low 250 plus (for smoking or holding)
Like a symphony (LOL, more like controlled chaos), we will cook an assortment of food, chops and some vegetables circulating around so we will transfer the cooked food to the higher shelf when it is almost done while the other food is cooking.
Many of the newer gas grills have a smoke box accessory, but if you don't have that, no problem. On my gas grill it did not work all that great anyway.
Another grilling tip: You can just put your soaked wood chips in an aluminum foil pouch placed over the hottest part of the grill. Poke some holes in it with a fork and don't put it too close to anything you don't want to catch fire.
This will add more smoke to your gas grilling and is also pretty easy for clean up. Just make sure it's no longer burning before you throw it away!
Well, that is for a quick reference and we will add more along the way! Hope to enjoy many tales of finger lickin' grilling fun and grilling tips with you.
For getting to suggestions with each kind of food, the best thing to do is to go back to the homepage and then click on Beef, Pork, Chicken & Poultry, Fish, Shellfish, and Side dishes...All done here? Back to great-grilling home page from Grilling Tips