Has the summer breeze left you hankering for a cook-out? No matter what the temperature, a plate of grilled food always sounds finger-licking good. Great flavor aside, grilling is a fun, outdoor activity for the whole family, along with a hearty helping of nutrient-dense meat and veggies.
Although grilling can seem daunting at first, you are more than capable of taming the beast. With a clean, preheated grill and pre-cut, high-quality food, you’ll be a grill master in no time. Avoid the following grill faux-pas, and you’ll have BBQ guests begging for more.
Avoid built-up food residue
A perfectly grilled meal is delicious, but the aftermath can be messy with food build-up and charred residue. It’s normal for your grill to accumulate food remnants, which is why grill cleaning is vital before you cook again to avoid grease stains, funky-tasting food, and mold.
For most grills, cleaning starts with heating the barbecue with aluminum foil over the top to burn off any bits of food. After that, a classic scrub brush can rid your grill of gunk. Additionally, a vinegar soak and baking soda should loosen up any stubborn residue, leaving your grates sparkling.
Don’t forget to prep
It’s certainly tempting to jump the gun and start throwing food on the grill when bellies are rumbling, but a little bit of prep can make all the difference. First, it’s important to season your food before it’s cooked. While a seasoned grill will add delicious flavor, a few dashes of salt and pepper or your favorite spiced rub will elevate your dish, allowing seasonings to work their way into the food while cooking.
Additionally, pre-cooking any starchy vegetables like potatoes or carrots will create the perfect crisp outside, with a soft inside, without having to char them on the grill for too long.
Use a meat thermometer
Although you may think you have your grill time down, it’s best not to guess when it comes to meat safety. A meat thermometer will be your best friend when grilling meats, allowing you to remove your food at the perfect temperature. Undercooked meat can lead to a nasty case of stomach flu, while overcooked meat can turn dry and sorely disappoint your tastebuds. For most meals, 165 degrees is a great rule-of-thumb to ensure your meat’s internal temperature is right where it should be.
Don’t skip the preheat
Once you light the grill, feel free to sit back for a moment to let the flames work their magic. If you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, preheating for at least 5 minutes is an absolute must. Ensuring the metal is scorching before adding food can avoid unnecessary sticking and create the best possible color and char on your meal. When you add food pre-warm-up, you run the risk of overcooking or burning your meat.
Skip the lighter fluid
While lighter fluid can be a great tool to pump up the heat on a bonfire, it’s better left untouched when it comes to the grill. Because of the chemical components of lighter fluid, cooked food can take on an unnatural petrol taste. To allow the grill’s flavor to shine, stick to naturally flammable starters like a few pieces of newspaper.
Although stepping up to the grill may seem intimidating at first, once you’ve nailed down the basics, you’ll be on your way to perfectly rare steaks and char-broiled veggies, leaving your guests wanting more. Dodge common mistakes, like built-up residue or overcooked nightmares, and your dinner guests will be calling you the grill master in no time.