Summer is here, which means it’s grilling season. And by that we mean “screwing up when you try to grill things within the backyard season.” Despite the hippie feel of eating outdoors, there’s a science to proper grilling. Disregard the science and you’re missing out on one of the best things about summer.
Trouble is, just like other kinds of science, you will find rules. Commandments, even. And to have the definitive dogma, we reached out to grill masters of all walks — including James Beard-nominated chef Greg Denton of Portland, OR’s Ox, Longhorn Steakhouse menu Executive Chef/Grill Us Hotline hero Josh Evans, catering chef Dave Coffman of Tree’s in Sherwood, OR, and a variety of dads — to figure out the ten commandments of grilling.
Thou shalt not use accelerants – Seriously, just what the hell is wrong together with you? Should you put lighter fluid on your own coals, that stuff wafts up and coats your grilled meats with just a hint of petrochemicals. The same thing goes for those match-light charcoals (that are basically regular charcoal with lighter fluid mixed in). Those same chemicals will connect to your cooking surfaces too, so the next few meals you grill may also have toxic fumes as their secret ingredient. You’re a big boy. Figure out how to begin a proper fire. Or simply use gas propane, not ‘oline.
Thou shalt establish heat zones – Bank your coals to a single side to get a charcoal grill, or use merely the side burners to get a gas grill. Do that to help you cook with indirect heat as opposed to just slapping meat along with the most popular portion of the cooker. It gives you a slower, more even cook through your meat. Once you’re ready for Advanced Grilling, you can strategically position different foods closer or farther from the zone so everything is ready at the same time.
Thou shalt not forget the veggies – Yes, grills are for steaks and hamburgers. Yes, vegetarians may be annoyingly self-righteous. No, that doesn’t mean a grilled hot pepper or beet isn’t delicious. Denton specifically recommends putting your veggies on the grill after you’ve cooked your meat. Let the coals burn down while cooking your veggies. If the outsides char, you can slice that away. Utilize them for an additional course, to munch on while you sip your beer and slap at mosquitoes.
Thou shalt use fresh meats – Slapping a frozen slab of meat on the grill creates an uneven cook: the outside chars as the inside slowly thaws. For the best results, you would like to use fresh meats that went through the grocery store to your fridge, then right to the grill. If you absolutely must use frozen, thaw them overnight in the fridge. Don’t think about cooking those suckers until these are fully thawed.
Thou shalt not mistake the purpose of marinades – The primary purpose would be to breakdown tougher meats (like flank and hanger steaks), to make them easier and a lot more pleasant to chew. If you appreciate the flavor of a marinade over a rib-eye, cook that liquid right down to a thicker sauce while your meats are cooking without it, then brush it on a minute approximately before the end.
Thou shalt always clean thy grill – Another “just what the hell is wrong along with you?” situation. A dirty grill leaves pieces of charred and carbonized last night’s meal all over this night’s dinner. That’s nasty. The optimum time to clean up your grill is after you’ve preheated it — prior to you slap down your food. The fire will cook some of the old stuff away, and heat up the Klingons so you can scrape them off easily.
Thou shalt not make use of a cold grill – If you put meat on a cold grill, it cooks to the metal using a chemical bond that’s about as tough to knock off as concrete from rebar. A hot grill, by contrast, sears your meat nicely so that it doesn’t stick. Take into account that you’re putting cold meat on that hot metal, which decreases the overall temperature because of physics. So allow it to be hotter than you believe you require it. It’ll warm up. Don’t worry.
Thou shalt become confident with people waiting their turns – The rule for meats over a grill is equivalent to the rule for slow dancing at prom: all flesh needs to be in inch or maybe more apart. If you’re observing our earlier commandment about using indirect heat (which cancels out a part of your surface for cooking), that means cooking fewer items at any given time. Your friends will have to be patient.
Thou shalt not poke your meat – You’ve heard the key of poking meat and comparing it towards the texture of your own hand to inform if it’s medium, or rare, or burnt, or whatever. The key works, but only for professionals — and ftyjtt that professionals at this particular level can tell the doneness of the steak in a pan through the sound it will make. You’re not a pro, and also you don’t wish to poison your mates. Purchase a damn meat thermometer.
Thou shalt leave the lid alone – Opening the lid of Longhorn Steakhouse menu cuts down on the temperature and slows cooking. Opening the lid of any charcoal grill adds oxygen to the fire and burns your meat. Patience, grasshopper. Utilize a timer, then open the lid to flip, then close it again until it’s near time for that cooking to be done. You don’t keep opening your oven and dic.king around using a cake or casserole. Resist the need with all the grill.