It’s an art, a right of passage, and a great time that everyone can enjoy. Let’s teach you how to do it RIGHT. Check out some of the best tips on mastering your grill.
You’ve got to admit it, there’s just something about grilling that makes us feel alive. Maybe it’s the modern equivalent to hunting for what you eat. Or, maybe it’s bringing you back to the basics of actually caring about your food, instead of just punching holes in the top of a plastic container before you press 4:00 on the microwave. Whatever it is, we’re about to cover the best tips for keeping your grill game at its peak.
First things first: Clean Your Tools
We feel that this topic goes without saying, but there are some fundamentals here that are commonly overlooked. Be sure your grilling grate or cooking surface is cleaned to prevent sticking and to make sure there’s not taste transfer from previous meals. Never coat your grilling surface in oils or other chemicals to prevent sticking, as this can lead to flare ups or excessive smoking that can make the overall experience much less desirable. Your tools like spatulas, tongs, forks, and thermometers should be cleaned thoroughly before hand and rinsed and wipes between heavy uses. We like to keep a towel hanging from our aprons, lightly damp with water and cleaner, to wipe our tools on should the need strike us. Use 2 different sets of tools or wash one thoroughly between checks on foods likely to spread disease like E.coli or salmonella. Think one for raw and one for cooked-- just make sure you’re not serving the table with the same, uncleaned tools you tossed dinner on the flames with.
Check Your Temp
Temperature is critical. We don’t only mean the meat, either. You can check out the proper cooking temps for all your beef preferences on this Temperature Perfection chart, but here we’re focused on the grill temperature. It’s a common misconception that you should never move the meat once placed. Feel free to move your meat as often as needed to properly cook it evenly, especially considering the balance of different foods on the heat at the same time. Fish, for example, will come out dry well before your chicken breast is cooked properly, so consider where and when to place your meal centerpieces. But here’s the secret, keep your lines straight. If you lay your meat lengthwise along your grating, for example, keep it in that orientation. Criss-crossing your grill lines will literally blacken the outside of your meal in a very non-worthy charring fashion that’s more akin to burning it. Tossing it around willy-nilly is not preferred-- so let out your inner OCD out by keeping your meat neat and orderly!
Grilling is worth doing right. For your meal to turn out just the way everyone is hoping for, sometimes you’ve got to ignore the mob that’s slamming their knife and fork clenching fists all around your table demanding to eat immediately or they’ll riot. You may also be the culprit. Walking the plate of finished beef into the kitchen or to the table leaves you down wind of the wonderful smells you’ve been toiling over, but hold back. After grilling, allow 5-10 minutes of cooling time BEFORE slicing into your meat. The temperature will remain just right, but waiting allows all the juices to soak right back into the beef they were born from, making each bite more delectable and juicy. Don’t waste it on your plate, keep it in the meal. As our littlest rancher likes to remind us, the red juice is the flavor!
Dying to fire up the grill soon for an out-of-this-world experience? Try our John Wayne Ribeye-- they only come around a few times a year!
Alicia Perry, PhD, Owner/Operator and all around Hay Maven (see my blog post on the time I fell off a haystack...). I share industry insights, tips & tricks on grilling great beef, and my personal journey into the ranching world.