Summer is in the air, and that means the smell of barbecue should be too! Whether it’s an all-day weekend gathering or just a normal night of preparing dinner for your family, if you want to serve the best grilled food on the block this year, keep these tips in mind the next time you're cooking out.
Of course, recipes are important, but with outdoor cooking, techniques matter most. Learn these essentials for better grilling, and you will become a true BBQ master.
- Preheat the Grill
Preheat your grill with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
With all the coals glowing red, or all the gas burners on high, the temperature under the lid should reach 500F.
The heat loosens any bits and pieces of food hanging onto the grate, making it easy to brush them off.
Preheating your grill also helps prevent food from sticking to the grate and gets the grate hot enough to sear properly.
- Keep it Clean
When bits of food have stuck to your cooking grate, and the grate is hot, clean it with a stainless-steel brush. This step is not only for cleanliness. It also prevents your food from sticking.
Note: Replace brush if any loose bristles are found on cooking grates or brush.
- Oil the Food, Not the Grate
Oil prevents food from sticking. It adds flavor and moisture, too.
Lightly brushing or spraying the food with oil works better than brushing the grate.
- Keep the Lid Down
Here are 4 important reasons why the lid should be closed as much as possible.
- It keeps the grates hot enough to sear the food.
- It speeds up the cooking time and prevents the food from drying out.
- It traps the smokiness that develops when fat and juices vaporize in the grill.
- It prevents flare-ups by limiting oxygen.
- Time and Temperature -By monitoring your time and temperature you avoid overcooking your food.
Use a timer! If you are grilling in a colder climate or in a higher altitude, the cooking times will be longer. If the wind is blowing hard, it will lower a gas grill's temperature and raise a charcoal grill's temperature.
- Know When to Be Direct, Know When to be Indirect
Direct heat (when the fire is directly below the food) is best for relatively small, tender pieces of food that cook in 20 minutes or less.
Indirect heat (when the fire is on either side of the food) is best for larger, tougher cuts of meat that require more than 20 minutes of cooking.
- Tame the Flame
Too many flare-ups can burn your food. Keep the lid on as much as possible. This limits the amount of oxygen inside the grill, which will help extinguish any flare-ups.
If the flames are getting out of control, move the food over indirect heat temporarily, until they die down. Then move the food back.
- Caramelization is Key
One of biggest reasons for the popularity of grilled food is its seared taste.
To develop this taste for maximum effect, use the right level of heat and resist the temptation to turn food often. Your patience will allow for caramelization or browning. That creates literally hundreds of flavors and aromas.
As a rule, turn food only once.
We know it's tempting to slather on sauce when you've got a sauce you love like our Bellisari’s Barista Sauce, but patience is key. Be careful not to sauce meats too early, especially if you are using a sweet sauce, as the sugars will burn. Sauce them during the final few minutes of cooking.
When checking for doneness, resist the urge to repeatedly poke, stab, or pierce your meat with a fork. The juices will escape, making the meat drier and less flavorful. Use a spatula or tongs to move and flip your food.
Food continues to cook after it comes off the grill, so it’s best to remove it just before it has reached the desired doneness. I always use a thermometer. A thermometer is the only way to guarantee that your meat has been cooked to the correct internal temperature, and it makes it easy to get consistently great results from your grilling efforts.