Outdoor Grilling Tips & Tricks
I’m often asked the question, What’s the difference between ‘barbequed’ and ‘grilled’ food? Carolyn Wells, founder of the Kansas City Barbecue Society, defines these terms so well:
Barbeque, a.k.a. barbecue, BBQ, Q, ‘que and who knows what else: slow- cooked over a low heat using smoke from natural wood. Barbecue can be used as a noun, verb and adjective. It is a destination, a meal, a sandwich, a party, a cooking technique, and a descriptor for almost anything cooked outdoors, charred or smoky
Grilled: Food cooked over high heat for a short period of time to sear the outside and quickly cook the inside. Grill roasting over indirect heat falls somewhere between classic grilling and barbecue.
For many busy people, grilling is the most convenient method. The following are some tips to make your grilling and barbequing safe and easy:
Prepare and Heat Your Grill
- Charcoal grills: Use a canister to start charcoal. The coals are ready when they turn white and achieve a red glow. Look for charcoal on sale during the winter months to save a few dollars.
- Heat grill (charcoal or gas) for 20 minutes or 500+ degrees to sterilize grill and prepare for searing of food.
Determine Your Cooking Method—Indirect vs. Direct
- Use the direct method to quickly cook foods. Chicken breasts, steaks, fish and seafood are good choices. Place foods on the grate directly over the heat source.
- Consider the indirect method for foods that require longer than 20 minutes to cook—whole chickens, boneless turkey roasts and pork ribs. Spread charcoals around the edges of grill and place food in the center with a drip tray underneath. For gas grills, place food on grates without flames underneath. Heat sources under the grates at the edge of grill.
- For grill roasting, first place food directly over the heat source to sear food and then move it away to cook until done.
Prepare Your Food
- Always use one set of tongs for raw food and another for cooked food. Mark the tongs to avoid cross-contamination.
- Always discard used marinade once meat is placed on the grill.
- Oil food or grill before cooking. Use tongs to slide meat back and forth when placing on grill to avoid sticking.
- Sauces with high sugar content should be brushed on meats after removing from grill to avoid a burnt sauce and black appearance. Use a grilling rub to season meat before and during cooking. Extra tip: A gourmet sauce and rub makes a less expensive cut of meat taste great.
- For extra flavor, use hickory, alder or mesquite wood chips. Soak chips in water for one hour, then add directly to charcoal or place in a smoker box on the grate in your gas grill. Adding chips to your grill is less expensive than a wood fire. Better yet, try a smoker bag to cook your whole meal.
- Use a quick read meat thermometer to test meat for done-ness. Remove meat about 5 degrees (approximately 5 minutes) before it’s done. Cover tightly with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meat will continue to cook to temperature during this time.
Now you’re ready for the grilling season. Get your grill out, clean it up and start cooking!