How you prepare your food for Grilling and handle it on the Grill can make or break your BBQ party. There are some basic rules you need to know to ensure that your Meats and Veggies always come out perfect. Prepare to have some of your previous Grilling beliefs debunked!
We’ve already talked about one of the most important prep techniques in the Grilling sphere: Marination. When preparing to put your perfectly marinated Meat on the Grill, use tongs to remove it from the marinating vessel and allow any residual marinade to drip off. You don’t want the excess liquid dripping onto your coals or burners causing flame-ups which, in turn, can cause excess charring. And, as we’ve reported here in the past, charring can produce cancer-causing compounds you don’t want in your food.
Fish and seafood are best cooked in a ‘Fish Basket’, an accessory available at all stores that sell Grilling equipment. Fish, even with the skin on, is notoriously hard to turn without breaking up on the Grill.
I always wrap Potatoes and Corn on the Cob in foil (shiny side in). This method traps steam inside the packet which aids in cooking these dense veggies, which otherwise take a very long time to cook. Pierce your Potatoes all over with a fork, brush with Oil and sprinkle with Salt before wrapping. Remove the husks from the Corn and slather the Cobs in Butter. Sprinkle on Salt and Pepper before wrapping. If you wish, you can place the cooked Cobs unwrapped on the grill for a few minutes to add some Grill marks
Veggies such as Peppers, Onions and Asparagus can be cooked directly on the Grill. But you should have on hand a fine-mesh Grill basket or tray. Otherwise, you’ll have to leave the food in very large pieces to keep it from falling through the grate.
Veggies such as Radicchio, Zucchini and even Avocados can be placed directly on the Grill at right angles to the grate.
Cook delicate foods, such as Tomatoes and Mushrooms, on a cast iron Grill pan or a sheet of foil laid flat on the grill in a zone where you can cook with indirect heat.
And watch your ‘soft’ veggies closely. They will cook quickly and can easily get overdone.
One of the biggest mistakes Grillers make is using a fork to place Meat on the Grill and turn it. This just allows the Juices to run out during cooking leaving your finished piece of Meat looking great, but tasting dry and tough. Always use tongs to manipulate foods on the grill.
Another big mistake many Grillers make is pressing the food with a spatula during coking. Again, this forces the Juices out of the meat leaving it much drier and tougher than it should be.
My mother always says, good things – and bad tings – come in threes. So do Grilling mistakes. The third big Grilling mistake many cooks make is turning the food too many times. Always cook the food at least half way through on one side, then turn once – and only once – to finish cooking on the other side. This minimizes the handling and, thus, maximizes the juiciness and tenderness.
Most BBQ Sauces are high in Sugar. That means they’re highly likely to burn (char) on the grill if you mop or brush them on too early in cooking. I always wait until just before I take the Meat off the fire before applying the Sauce. Contrary to popular belief, BBQ sauces aren’t marinades and don’t penetrate the food. They just add flavour and character to it.
Lid open or closed?
There are many theories and opinions about whether you should leave the lid of your grill open or closed while food is cooking. If you grill with the lid open, you’re squandering your heat and the fuel you’re using to generate it. Also, foods cook more evenly and faster under a closed lid. I lift the lid only when I want to add something or remove it from the Grill, or when it’s time to turn something. Trapping the heat makes the Grill more like an oven and this will cook thick Steaks or whole Chicken Breasts thoroughly. No more raw-in-the-middle surprises!
Go forth and Grill… Knowledgeably
I hope the foregoing tips add to your Grilling pleasure this season!
~ Maggie J.