Simple Tips for Great Grilling

One of the best things about summer is having the chance to grill up delicious meals in your own backyard. It’s an especially fun treat for those of us who live in colder climates and tend to put away our grills when temperatures start plummeting and snow begins falling.

Grilling is a pretty straightforward task, but there are a few things you can do to make sure grilled foods come out the best they can be.

A few helpful suggestions…

  • Start out with a clean grill. Make sure your grill grate is clean before you begin. Old food stuck on a grill grate can affect the flavor of a meal. There are some great grill brushes that make cleanup very easy. Some people like to clean their grills right after cooking on them and others wait until right before they begin cooking.

  • Oil your grill grate. Foods can easily stick to a grill’s grate and end up torn apart. If you oil your grill before placing food on it, you’ll reduce the odds of sticking. Take the grate off BEFORE preheating the grill and oil it LIGHTLY with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Some people soak a paper towel with vegetable oil and rub it over the grate. Some dip a cut onion in oil and rub that over the grate NEVER, ever use cooking spray or oil on a HOT grill!

  • Preheat your grill before starting to cook. Let your grill come to the right temperature before placing food on it. It’s one of the best ways to ensure everything will turn out just the way you want.

  • Do not grill food right out of the fridge. Instead, let food come to room temperature before placing on a hot grill. This tip is especially important for meats. When it comes to grilling steak, beginning to grill while the meat is still cold will mean having to cook the meat longer… and the longer a steak cooks on the hot grill, the tougher it may end up.

  • Try not to overcook food. Using a thermometer is the best way to make sure grilled food is cooked thoroughly. When in doubt about whether or not grilled food is done, it’s better to take food off the grill a little bit before you think it has reached its desired doneness rather than letting it sit on the grill too long so it overcooks. Remember, grilled meat continues cooking after it has been taken off the grill. It’s also best to resist the urge to cut into a piece of meat to check for doneness, because doing so lets out meat’s juices and that can leave it dry and less flavorful.

  • Grill faster by skewering. Threading chunks of meat and vegetables on to skewers can give a meal a more festive look. It can also make food cook faster on the grill. It’s important not to crowd food skewers. Skewered food cooks more evenly if there’s a little space left between each item. Although it looks colorful to mix meats and vegetables on the same skewers, separating them keeps vegetables from overcooking by the time the meat has reached the desired doneness.

  • Keep hamburgers flat. Most grilled hamburgers end up on the rounder side by the time they’re ready to be served. That’s because they swell in the center while cooking. Making a small dip in the center of each raw hamburger prior to grilling will keep burgers flat. The back of a teaspoon is perfect for the job. The dip fills in during cooking and the hamburger will be perfectly flat when served.

  • Let grilled meat rest before cutting. Waiting a few minutes before cutting into grilled meat gives juices a chance to settle into meat so they won’t run out and take some of the meat’s flavor and moisture with them. Placing grilled meat on a cooling rack to cool instead of directly on a serving plate lets meat cool without losing its freshly grilled texture and flavor.

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