At the first hint of warmer weather, outdoor grills are fired up all around the country. In fact, many of my friends in
England have been known to start their grills with snow still
covering the ground.
Grill master and cookbook author Steven Raichlen once told me that grilling is the performance art of the culinary world and the best method for cooking just about anything. He said, “Grilling and barbecue are the world’s oldest cooking methods. They take you back to that mystical moment in human history when man became the only animal that cooks. It is something that is done all over the world but done differently in every region.”
I love the relaxed atmosphere around the grill. Everyone gathers together, chatting and enjoying cold beverages while the master of the grill prepares the meal. Living in a downtown apartment with no outdoor space, my grilling is now confined to a cast iron grill pan, a George Foreman grill, or a grill at the park. I'm thrilled anytime someone invites me over for a cookout!
Here are some tips for perfectly grilled food:
- Do not have your grill heated to one single temperature. Ideally you will have a hot side and a cooler side. For a charcoal grill, this means banking the majority of the coals to one side.
to check the grill’s temperature with the hand method. Hold your hand over
the fire and count (one
Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.) Two to three seconds is a hot, high fire; four to five is medium-high; six to eight is medium; is medium-low; and eleven to fourteen is low.
- Before using, get the grate hot, brush it clean with a wire grill brush, and lubricate the grate with oil (a paper towel wad and tongs do the trick) just before you add the food.
- Do not use water to tame flare-ups. Just move the food to a different area on the grill until the flames subside.
- Do not put too much food on the grill at once. There should be room to maneuver, whether it is to avoid a flame-up or to slow down the cooking if the temperature is too high in one area.
- Put barbecue sauce on at the end to prevent burning.
- Be sure to have the tools you need—long, spring-loaded tongs and a long-handled spatula. The tools should not be too heavy and fit well in your hand. An instant read thermometer and a timer are also useful tools.
- Over-turning can be a problem, especially with something as delicate as fish. Figure out the approximate cooking time and then turn the food halfway through.
- When you remove meat from the grill, the internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests. By the time you eat, the meat could be overcooked. Try removing the meat while it is just under the desired temperature by five to ten degrees.
Now, fire it up!