5 Tips for Perfect Grilling
Grilling season is upon us. That means it’s time for everyone to dust off the grill, grab a supply of coals or propane, get your tongs and towels, and fire it up. I do a lot of grilling, and although I’m a purist (I use only two coal grills, one small for family dinners and a large one for entertaining), these tips are for both gas and coal grillers.
You may think you know everything there is to know about grilling. I mean, after all it’s just cooking over fire right? Mankind has been doing this for thousands of years. But every time I grill for a group of friends, family and occasionally friends of friends I find people asking me “How did you do that?” or “Why did you do that?”
So here’s a quick breakdown of my five top grilling tips, so you too can amaze and delight your dinner guests.
Okay, this one doesn’t really apply for gas grilling. But for you traditionalists, get yourself a coal chimney. This little contraption will help your coals get going twice as fast and just needs a bit of newspaper in the base to get fired up. That way you don’t have to slather your beautiful briquettes in lighter fluid, which is a sin.
I can already hear you “but it all just get’s burned up, there’s nothing bad left.” Sure, but I just don’t want anything poisonous near my food. And paper works just as well with a chimney. So get one.
2. Preheating the Grill
You of course don’t want to start cooking before your coals are ready. Coals that are still black or still smoking will give your food an acrid, burnt tire-smell. Always wait until your coals are white and smokeless, giving off a hot, steady heat, before cooking your food. But one thing you can do while your coals warm up is heat your grill. Use the warm up time to burn off the charred bits of food from the last time you cooked.
If you’re using a gas grill, a quick way to do this is to lay a piece of aluminum foil over the grill with the fire below up high (this trick also works over coals). This will burn off the burnt bits in a few minutes and get you ready for the next step.
Use a good wire brush to scrape off your grill after it’s been preheated as above. Make sure you get it as clean as you can as these burnt bits can smoke under your gillables and impart off flavors.
4. Seasoning the Grill
Once you have a hot and clean grill it’s time to season it. Use a paper towel and tongs along with some high heat oil like peanut or grapeseed oil. Don’t use olive oil as it has a low flash point and your grill should be over 500 degrees. Fold up the paper towel into a small rectangle, grab one end with your tongs and dip into the oil. Coat your grill well. Apply at least 3 or 4 layers. Enough to give it a black oily sheen. How many coats depends on how dry your grill was and how much oil it needs to soak up.
After all that you’re now ready to cook. Here is the one best secret of great grillerz (thank you to Miley Cyrus for the spelling lesson) – keep one side, at least a third, of your grill cool. This means leave an area of your gas grill off or push the coals over to be mostly on one side, leaving a strip for you to rest food on.
This helps to control temperature of food. Great grilling involves direct heat to sear food and indirect heat to cook it to temperature. Cooking food too hot all the time results in flame-ups and burnt or overcooked food. Mediate temperature and give yourself some space to work with a cold side.
Mastering this skill will allow you to progress forward on to more difficult grilling that involves indirect heat for primary cooking and direct heat for final searing, as in ribs or other braised meats. I hope these tips come in handy, feel free to ask any question you may have in the comments below!