The Thrill of the Grill 1

Tips and Tricks to Become a “Grill Master”

The sun is shining and the warm summer days are calling your names. Readers, it’s grilling season! Grilling can be fun, thrilling and therapeutic all at the same time. There is nothing better than spending summer days outside, hanging with friends and family, surrounded by the mouth watering aroma of meat cooking on the grill. Are you new to the “thrill of the grill?” No problem, allow me to spark some of your interest.

What Type of Grill?

First let’s talk a little bit about gas vs. charcoal grilling. I prefer gas simply because it’s more convenient.I love being able to walk outside and light up the grill with a flick of the wrist.

Don’t get me wrong, charcoal definitely has its perks, too. Charcoal grilling comes with the added bonus of flavor from the charcoal and charcoal grills usually come with a cheaper price tag than gas grills. Though I do enjoy the smokey flavor that comes from charcoal grilling, it is a little more involved than its propane counterpart. A charcoal grill also needs to be cleaned more frequently than a gas grill (to remove the ash) and I’m also not a huge fan of the taste of lighter fluid.

Grilling Techniques

There are certain techniques that you can follow to ensure a fantastic flame grilled feast. Do you notice that sometimes your steak isn’t quite cooked the way you hoped? You were shooting for a medium-well steak, only to cut into a under-cooked bloody cut of beef? Maybe your ribs took a bit longer to smoke than you thought?

Most of the time this unforeseen tragedy is simply due to the temperature of the meat before you put it on the grill. Try placing the cut of meat on the kitchen counter for an hour to let it come up to room temperature. Now, I know what you’re thinking: if Mom found out you were doing this she would faint. Have no fear; simply explain to Mom that as long as the meat is cooked to its proper internal temperature, you will live to see another day. The reason you should let it hit room temperature prior to grilling is that once you throw it on the grill, it will immediately begin the cooking process. When you go from the fridge to the grill, your cooking time is thrown off because the meat still has to reach a warm temp before it will begin to cook on the inside.

Grilling the Perfect Steak

When I think of steak on the grill, I envision a picture perfect, lightly seasoned 1″ thick ribeye searing on a hot grill plate. When it comes to steak, most people’s eyes are far bigger than their stomachs when they choose that 2 ½” steak but the truth is, that’s not a steak, that’s a roast. Grab yourself a one inch thick steak from your local Chesterfield grocery store–no more and no less than one inch thick. Again, I always go for a ribeye but you can choose a New York strip or a sirloin. A good grill master can grill any kind of steak.

I personally like to keep seasoning simple with salt, pepper and a little garlic. Brush the steak with a light coat of olive oil, season and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Fire up the grill and preheat it to a medium-high heat. Place that beauty on the hot grill plate and let it cook, but don’t go too far. Want those nice grill marks? After 3 minutes, turn the steak about a half turn and let it cook another 3 minutes. Flip and repeat, About 5-6 minutes on each side for a 1″ thick steak will produce a perfect medium-well steak.

Mastering the Grill

There are some simple rules your can follow to help you become a master of cooking all cuts on the grill. First, beef should be cooked “fast and high.” Are you looking for that perfect medium-well steak? Grab yourself a 1″ thick ribeye, put the room temperature steak on a medium-high flame, let it grill about 5 minutes on each side and let it rest for a few minutes before eating.

Here’s the “beef” on grilling pork; most pork should be cooked  “low and slow.” You can get by with cooking a pork chop fast on a medium-high heat and it will be enjoyable but when it comes to ribs and pork steaks, low and slow is the best way to go. After you put your favorite spices or dry rub on them, let them sit out for about an hour at room temperature. Preheat your grill to 225 degrees, put those puppies on the grill and let the heat do its thing, turning every 30 minutes.

Healthy Choices for the Grill

Want to go a little healthier? Try grilling some fish. Fish is a delicate choice so you need to take the right steps. Brush a light coating of oil on the fillet, season and let it sit in room temperature for an hour. The most important step is preheating your grill when it comes to fish. This will prevent an unfortunate event–sticking. If your fish fillet sticks to the grill, you will have a fishy mess when you try to remove it. Preheating ensures that your fish fillet will naturally release itself from the grate once it’s done cooking. Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat, around 400 degrees. A 1″ thick fillet will take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remember to let the fish release itself from the grill on its own. If you can’t slide your spatula under the fillet with ease, it’s not ready to flip. You could make it easier on yourself and use a wooden grilling plank. You can find these wooden planks at most grocery stores in Chesterfield. They are designed specifically for grilling fish and usually add a nice flavor to fish.

Don’t be a chicken when it comes to grilling because poultry is excellent on the grill as well. I don’t know about you but chicken used to be my nemesis when it came to the grill. In the past, every attempt resulted in a dry piece of pathetic poultry. There is a secret to grilling chicken; don’t overcook it! It’s very easy to overcook chicken because everyone is so scared of getting salmonella, and everyone should be scared because salmonella is frightful–that’s a whole different article though. Yes, you MUST cook chicken to the proper temperature of 165 degrees and as luck would have it, that proper temp is the perfect temp for moist, tender chicken. Once again, season the chicken with your favorite seasoning, then let the chicken sit in room temperature for about an hour. I recommend marinating chicken. A nice ginger teriyaki marinade is great for chicken, When you are ready to grill, fire that baby up to around 350 degrees. To get the chicken to that perfect temp should take only about 30-40 minutes.

They call this the grilling season but to me every season is grilling season. So take these tips and go enjoy a taste of everything your grill has to offer.