The joke goes that it took a few thousand years for mankind to discover fire, and then ten more minutes to discover barbequing. Despite vegetarianism’s growing popularity, grilling is still a favorite pastime for many families. It is a natural, delicious method for cooking meat.
While it may not be very difficult to throw some meat on the grill, there are certain techniques which will assure that your steak turns out as delicious as possible. Make sure to buy high-quality meat, one of the most important factors in a good grilled steak.
Preheat the grill to the highest temperature you can. This will create an optimal heating situation for searing meat, as well as disinfect and clean off any residue from the grill, left over from previous grill sessions.
2. Squeaky clean
A preheated grill should be cleaned with a brush, further eliminating leftover residue.
3. Lube it up
Meat can get stuck to the grill during cooking. The best way to prevent this is to wipe down the cooking surface with a dish towel dipped in vegetable oil, holding the cloth with tongs – not your own hands! There are also oil sprays on the market which serve the same purpose.
4. Commercial-worthy grill marks
We all know what they look like, in restaurant commercials and cookbooks, but few of us know how to achieve them – those amazing chain-metal fence grill marks. It’s quite simple: while grilling, rotate your piece of meat at a 90 degree angle, once, on each side.
If you are cooking indirectly over a fire, make sure to use an aluminum foil drip pan under the food, after you have filled it slightly with water. This serves two purposes: to catch the fat dripping off the steaks, and send moisture back upward when the liquid in the pan heats up. If you want to get creative, you can use alcohol or juice instead of water.
6. Spray it
Alternatively, when grilling directly, a spray bottle filled with water will prevent flare-ups.
7. Where there’s smoke…
Outdoor grilling allows you to use the smoke it produces for good purpose. The first step is to use high-quality wood for the fire; each will produce a different result in terms of flavor. Oak or hickory are good choices. Wood pieces should be soaked for an hour before coming in contact with the coals.
Grilling fish can produce tasty results. However, fish should not be placed directly on a grill grate – it will get stuck and fall apart most of the time. Invest in a fish grilling basket, which allows you to hold or rest the fish above the grill but without direct contact. Traditionally, chefs have also used a piece of cedar wood between fish and fire for a tasty effect.
9. Be delicate
It’s a common mistake to test the readiness of meat by sticking a fork in it or cutting it open. This is counter-productive. When you break the surface of the meat you release all the juices inside and start the meat drying out. Instead, use a meat thermometer, like the pros do.
10. Nap time
No matter how late dinner is or how hungry your guests are, be sure to let grilled meat rest for 5-10 minutes before being served. This allows the meat’s juices, which heat has concentrated in the center, to flow back throughout the piece of meat, spreading flavor all around. To preserve a nice temperature during this process, cover the meat in tin foil.