Summer is the perfect time to get your grill on and invite your family and friends over for a fun and flavorful cookout.
If you’ve seen my meal plans, then you know that grilling is one of my top time-saving methods for quick weeknight dinners. But it’s also one of my favorite ways to entertain too! That’s because it’s so easy to get everything ready in advance. Then when guests arrive, you can continue to converse in the beautiful outdoors, while flipping real food on the grill.
Of course, there are a few tricks of the trade that I’ve learned through the years that really do make a significant difference in turning grilled foods from mediocre to magnificent! I’m sharing these with you, so you can avoid some common pitfalls, and instead experience all the benefits of successful grilling!
Top 10 Best Grilling Tips:
1. Before You Light Up … The key to great grilling is preparation – mise en place is essential. So get your grilling tools, meat, vegetables, brushes, platter, glazes, sides and hungry mouths ready before you light up the grill. Once you’ve got food on the grill, you want to be sure you have everything ready in advance, so you can focus your attention on grilling for best success. In other words, don’t try to grill and cook the rest of the meal at the same time. Your kitchen is inside; your grill should be outside. Trying to run between the two usually ends with less than satisfying results.
2. Turn Up the Heat! Another secret of success is to be sure to preheat your grill at least 10-15 minutes before cooking. A properly preheated grill sears foods on contact, which helps to prevent sticking, and even more important, results in a more flavorful and moist outcome.
3. Keep It Clean. The easiest way to remove debris is when the grill is hot. So after preheating, give the grill racks a good scrub down with a wire brush to remove any remains from the previous cooking session. Then, wipe the racks down with oil, and that’s basically all the maintenance necessary.
4. Taste is Always in Season. When it comes to grilling, there are several methods for infusing grilled foods with extra flavor. A quick way is to use glazes (like BBQ Sauce) – sweet coatings often made with honey, maple syrup, or molasses that are brushed on during the last few minutes of grilling. Similarly, flavorful dry rubs applied a few hours before cooking also add a delicious burst of flavor. Dry rubs consist of herbs and spices, while wet rubs include the addition of oils, dijon mustard and such. For an even deeper infusion of flavor, use sweet-n-tangy marinades made with acidic liquids, such as citrus juices and vinegars. Marinades not only enhance your grilled foods’ flavor, when it comes to meat, they also help to tenderize as well.
5. Take the Chill Off. Cold meat and poultry doesn’t cook evenly. So be sure to take meats and poultry out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before grilling to bring them to room temperature. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this simple step makes in locking in both flavor and moistness.
6. Let it be. When grilling, resist the urge to repeatedly flip your food. Instead, give it time to sear; turning only when grill marks form. Waiting for meat to sear not only creates a more flavorful result, but also helps to reduce sticking.
7. Not to be Overdone. To avoid overcooking, it’s best to remove meats, poultry and seafood just before they reach the desired doneness since they continue to cook a bit after coming off the grill. An instant-read thermometer provides the most accurate results, but you can also gently poke steak and chops with your index finger; the firmer the meat feels, the more well-done it is. With seafood, look for opacity; well-done fish fillets will be opaque all the way through. For chicken, make a slit in the thickest part of the cut. Any juices that escape should run clear.
8. Another trick of the trade … If your food starts to get too dark before it’s cooked through, turn down the heat and move it to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or turn off the grill and cover, until food reaches desired doneness (keeping in mind point #7 above).
9. Lock in Moisture. Once your food has been grilled to perfection, give it some time to rest. Allowing grilled meats and poultry to rest on a clean platter, tented with foil, enables the juices to redistribute evenly. This leads to a moist, flavorful result. (The general rule of thumb is to allow small-to-medium cuts to rest about 5-10 minutes, and larger cuts or roasts to rest about 15 minutes.)
10. Just do it! Now that you’ve got the low-down, it’s time to throw-down some meat and veggies and get your grill on! There are so many great grilling recipes out there, so if you’re new to grilling, start out with something simple (like my Grilled Herb Chicken with Pineapple Salsa shown above).
Then, build on your skills from there by giving some of my Top Reader Favorite Recipes a sizzle, such as:
• Grilled Fajita & Veggies Steak Salad
• Grilled Ribeye Steak with Cilantro Lime “Butter”
• Grilled Southwestern Chicken Burgers
• Grilled Shrimp Kebobs
Wishing you and your family a very blessed summer! Happy Grilling!