As the weather warms up, it’s time to pull out the grill from hibernation and embrace cooking outdoors. Whether you’re planning the ultimate cookout or having a casual dinner with family, here are no-fail grilling tips for healthy, delicious summertime eats.
By Robyn Medlin, GrillGrrrl.com
The Basics1. Start with a clean grill: Removing remnants of last night’s dinner and thoroughly cleaning your grill will decrease the chance of flare-ups and over-charring food. Using a grill brush, thoroughly clean the grates and remove food remnants. Empty the drip pans and ash-catchers to start with a clean slate!
2. Apply non-stick spray or a light coat of olive oil on the grates before turning on the grill: a well-oiled surface will keep food from sticking.
3. Use a meat thermometer and take the guess work out. Using a thermometer will make you less likely to overcook your meat and will give you the courage to go ahead and pull it off the grill! No more serving “rubber chicken.”
Meat Management4. Don’t puncture or “press” on the meat. We’ve all seen people on the grill “flattening” burgers with a spatula — don’t do it! This squeezes all the juices out and dries out the meat.
5. Don’t micro-manage the meat. There is only need to flip one time per side to get optimal char marks. No need for constant flipping. Also, opening up the grill too often lets the heat out! Remember: “if you’re lookin’, it’s not cookin!”
6. Food will continue to cook after it is taken off the grill. Take the meat off a few minutes before it reaches the desired “doneness.”
7. Let the meat “rest”. When you take the meat off the grill, “tent” it in aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. This will let the juices in the meat redistribute for optimal moistness.
Tools and Ingredients8. Go fresh! Use what is fresh and available at your local farmers’ market. Using what’s in season encourages fun and creativity on and off the grill.
9. Stamp the cooking passport. Hop a flight to the ethnic section of the grocery store and give new marinades a try. “Mojo Criollo” — a Latin marinade consisting of citrus, garlic and onion — adds great flavor to meat and vegetables. Jamaican jerk marinade adds a little “kick” to your average grilled chicken, and sriracha hot sauce is also a great pairing for spicy dipping sauces, and even a spicy mayo. Get creative!
10. Gear up. Invest in a good pair of tongs to flip the meat and veggies. Tongs are much easier to use than a spatula as the food won’t slide around and fall through the grates as they do with a spatula.
11. Think of your grill less like a grill and more like an outdoor oven. Don’t limit yourself to meat only. The grill adds wonderful flavor to veggies, starches and even fruit. Grilled pineapple and pound cake make a wonderful dessert on the grill!