It's hot outside and that's a good reason to fire up the grill! Just about anyone can throw a steak on a grill, but with a little know-how you can up your grilling game this summer. Amaze your friends and your taste buds with our simple tips to get you grilling like a pro!
Choose Quality Meat: The first, and most important, step to delicious barbecue is choosing high quality, grass-fed or pastured meat. Not only does grass-fed or pastured meat taste SO much better, it's also better for you. It's lower in saturated fats and higher in heart- healthy Omega-3 fats. Plus, they're loaded with antioxidants and don't contain hormones, antibiotics or other drugs. Because nobody ordered that with their dinner!
Get your Equipment Together: There are a few essentials to your best barbecue ever, such as a grill. We recommend a charcoal grill over gas because it creates a better flavor and has a higher maximum heat. While we're on the subject of gas, toss your lighter fluid and pick up a chimney starter and some natural lump charcoal. Natural lump charcoal burns cleaner and more consistently, as an added bonus it leaves less ash!
If you've never used a chimney starter, trust us, they're worth it. You put some newspaper in the bottom space and load the top with charcoal. Then you simply light your paper and it heats the bottom coals and works it's way up. When the coals are gray and ashy, they're ready to go.
It's also essential to have a good pair of long-handled tongs that allow you to reach your food without burning yourself. You'll need a meat thermometer as well. We suggest picking up the instant read kind to save yourself from overcooked meat. Last, but not least, a stiff-bristled grill brush to keep your last meal from tainting your current dish. Which brings us to...
Cleaning your Grill: Clean your grill at the beginning of each cooking session, not at the end. After your coals are lit, spread them out and let your grill heat for about 10 minutes. The heat allows crusted-on food to be easily removed from the grates with a brush. When you're done cooking you can give your grates a quick once over with the grill brush, but you don't want to get it totally clean since a thin layer of grease will help protect the grates from the elements and prevent rusting.
Coal Arrangement: Probably the second most important part of grilling, after high quality meat, is how you arrange the coals. There are a few different methods you can utilize depending on what you're cooking.
Direct Heat: Evenly spread your coals over the coal grate. Use this method when cooking large quantities of food such as burgers or steaks for a crowd.
Bi-heat: Make two distinct areas of coals. One will contain most of the coals, while the other half will have only a thin covering. This is useful when you want a good sear at the beginning like steaks, chicken breasts and pork chops.
Indirect heat: Place all of your coals on one half of the grill leaving the other half empty. Apply this method when cooking large roasts or whole birds. Place your food over the indirect zone, cover the grill and let your food finish cooking. Just remember to rotate your meat so it can cook evenly.
Split Heat: Bank your coals against opposite walls of the grill leaving the middle free. This is good for cooking small roasts like pork loin, small chickens, or cornish hens. You're well on your way to the perfectly grilled piece of meat. Just a few other considerations to get things finished perfectly.
Use your Vents to your advantage. Open vents will help your coals burn hotter. This is especially useful when applying a bi-heat arrangement of your coals. Open the top vent on the side you want to cook faster.
Control Flare-ups caused by dripping fat. To control them while using the bi-heat method transfer your food to the cooler side until the flames settle down. If you're using direct heat, place the lid on the grill to cut off oxygen that is feeding the flames. Be careful when opening the lid though because the flare-ups can come right back.
Congratulations, you just cooked a perfect piece of meat. You're probably eager to bite into that juicy, mouthwatering morsel - but wait! You need to let the meat rest. This isn't a suggestion, it's a requirement. While the meat is cooking the muscle fibers on the exterior tighten, squeezing the juices. This means that the majority of the liquid is in the center. When you cut into it you'll lose all those precious juices to your plate or cutting board. Allowing the meat to rest while the temperature normalizes will distribute the juices more evenly. This way the juices stay put giving you that juicy, mouthwatering bite you're dreaming about. A good rule of thumb is to let fast-cooking meats rest about 1/3 of the cooking time, such as steak, pork chops, chicken breasts or small roasts. For slowcooked barbecue meats they won't need to rest long. Since they cook for long periods of time, the muscle fibers break down and are no longer squeezing the juices by the time they're done.
That's it! You're ready to impress your friends, and your tastebuds, with your master grilling skills!
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