Those who take grilling seriously know that it involves more than just
fire and meat. In fact, it requires as much skill and preparation as any other
method of cooking. That said, it is not necessary to have a lot of specialized
equipment in order to grill well; quality ingredients and a few basic tools are
the only real essentials.
This is the most important element with any kind of cooking; it is doubly important when grilling for guests. For those who are inexperienced when it comes to cooking on a grill, preparation is what will determine their success or failure.
• Choose Foods for the Grill - Preparation starts when deciding what to cook. Choose foods that are less likely to dry out like chicken thighs or ribs. Both of these can handle long times on the grill without turning into jerky. This is helpful for cooks who are fearful of serving undercooked meat to their guests.
• Brine - Brining is another way to avoid serving dry meat. The traditional way is to soak the meat overnight in a brining solution in the refrigerator.
• Get the Right Tools - Invest in tongs and a meat thermometer. Aside from a grill, these are the two most helpful tools for the beginning grill enthusiast.
• Keep Food Cold - Food safety is key. While some grilling experts suggest that food should be brought to room temperature before placing it on the grill, it is actually safer to keep it cold. Colder temperatures minimize the chance of bacterial growth and the potential to make guests sick.
• Choose the Right Grill - The big question here is which is better, gas or charcoal? People who prize convenience and simplicity above all else tend go with gas, while those who prefer flavorful food tend to go with charcoal. While electric and infrared grills do exist, gas and charcoal continue to be the most popular grilling options.
Tips for Grilling with Charcoal
• Use a Chimney Starter - For best results, a chimney starter should be used to start coals. Lighter fluid should not be used except by those who enjoy the strong taste of kerosene that will permeate their food.
• Mature Coals - Wait for coals to be covered with a layer of white ash before placing food on the grill.
Tips for Grilling with Propane
• Have Adequate Fuel - It is a good idea to keep a spare propane tank on hand; this prevents the situation where a grill cook has to make a run for gas while their meat dries out on a rapidly cooling grill.
• Get it Hot First - Before placing meat on the grill, it is important to turn it to its max heat for 10 minutes to ensure that meat will be properly seared. It should be turned back down before placing the meat on the grates.
General Grilling Tips
• Pay Attention - The most important thing for a grill cook to remember is to never leave the grill, grilling requires time and focus. Flare-ups can occur and ruin food in a matter of seconds. Being distracted by something else can result meat being charred beyond recognition.
• No Cutting, Poking or Squeezing - Dry food is one of the hazards of grilling and grill cooks should be mindful of causing their food to dry out by pressing on it, slicing into it or poking it with a fork. A meat thermometer may be used to test for doneness instead of cutting off a slice to check.
• Let it Rest - Let meat rest once it has been removed from the grill. Cutting into it right away will cause it to lose its juices. As difficult as it may be to wait, a resting period of between 5 and 10 minutes allows its juices to thicken which ensures moister food.
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