Grilling takes practice, just like any art form. Grilling is like cooking on the stove or in the oven as you have the direct heat from burners/charcoal and the indirect heat that keeps the grill moving when the lid is down (like the oven). Keeping your oven regulated in temperature is much easier than having your grill keep constant temp. The average grill can reach 500 degrees in minutes. It takes practice and a passion to improve.
High heat: Direct and Indirect is the basis of grilling. You want to cook food quick. However, at this heat your going to have to turn them often to keep the food from burning. Knowing when to turn is the key. I think everything else is just smoke and mirrors. I believe that a steak cooked properly needs to be turned once. If its a larger cut (greater than 1 1/2 inches) you might need to turn it up to 3 times to get the steak pink to medium red through to the center.
If your just starting in the grilling arena – I would suggest not going with the large chops. Keep them on the thinner side. Hamburgers should not exceed the 3/4 inch range. First off – it will keep you out of a whole lot of trouble while you get the knack of grilling and how to cook food properly. As you gain a few marks on your spatula, then you should move to more difficult dishes.
Here are the rules I try to always cling to:
- Keep your grill clean!
- Do not apply cooking spray to a lit grill (unless you don’t like eyebrows) – instead use oil or cooking spray when your grill is cold. By taking a towel, wrapping it with a rubber band and using your tongs, dip into a bowl of oil and rub over the grill grates. This will keep your proteins from sticking – especially low fat food like fish!
- Time – give your self plenty of it. Half the fun of grilling and grilling parties is your family and friends – they want to interact with you as much as you do. Don’t keep them waiting.
- Don’t leave your food – an unwatched grill = burnt offerings.
- Trim your meat before cooking. This will reduce unwanted flare-ups caused by too much fat combined with too much heat. By doing so you will get a more consistent grill on your product.
- Sauces are meant to be placed on meat after it cooks. Also, control your moisture point with Marinades – we encourage you patting your meat (stop the giggles) with a paper towel before placing on the grill. In all of these cases – these extra sugary / oil based sauces will reduce your chance of burning the product. Sugar turns to caramel – that is a good thing. Caramel not watched or in excess turns into briquettes and that is bad Ju Ju!
- Please keep your grill away from your house, apartment, car or anything flammable like lighter fluid, gas, fences. Pretty simple.
- Ensure that you are building flavor – spice / rub your food a good hour before you grill. For instance when you use a rub, you want that product to rest and absorb the flavor to make crust – crust is what were all after for in grilling right?
- Use proper tools – I know it sounds like a broken record . Get yourself a good pair of tongs. Tongs will allow you to turn grilled meat with out puncturing the food and letting all of that carefully crafted juicy goodness seep out to the flames.
- Plan – when your a pro – your guests are going to be ravenous fans of your product. Make plenty – more than enough, left overs the next day at work can do more for your ego than the actual party.
If you are just starting this journey – I would highly recommend you start with a gas grill. This form is more forgiving for the first time grill padiwan, and I find it more clean. No charcoal dust or bags to deal with. You can move into charcoal and smokers later – get your technique down first.
Follow your instructions on your grill. Look to ensure you have a proper set up, safety isn’t the step you should skip. Remember your dealing with fire. Also – use your resources, in your grill instructions there should be a cooking time chart. It is a good base developed for your unique grill.
Heat and Temperature:
Why a gas grill? Well, for me its just like my gas stove top in my house – control. You see they have these things called knobs – it helps me to gauge where my heat settings are and that is essential for getting started in grilling. However, if you are an old pro – or just wan’t to have the charcoal experience here are some simple ways you can determine the temperature of direct heat cooking. Remember – be careful – heat means heat and just likes mom’s stove – it will burn.
My technique – I picked it up years ago. Hold your hand with your palm down over the coals. The height should be approximately grill grate level – and count the number of seconds you can keep your hand there with out pulling it way (ya – this is the reason I use gas):
- 5 seconds – Low
- 4 seconds – Med
- 3 seconds – Med – High
- 2 seconds – High
Meat Grilling Charts
These are my cooking times. I based them off an old kettle grill from Weber. They work for both gas or charcoal. Steaks can be cooked to order, however items like Chicken, hamburgers and seafood are always safer if fully cooked. I prefer my pork and lamb just pink in the center. Simply put – don’t get sick.
- Boneless Steaks – Suggested thickness 1/2 to 1″. Grill f0r 8-12 minutes for medium rare, 12-16 for medium.
- Bone-In Steaks – Suggested thickness 1/2 to 1″. Grill for 9-14 minutes for medium rare, 12-18 for medium.
- Chicken Breasts – Grill until completely done and juices run clear. 8-14 minutes depending on thickness. Boneless pieces cook evenly.
- Fish Fillets – Cook just until the fish will flake easily with your fork. 4-6 minutes per side (thawed).
- Fish Steaks – Suggested thickness 1/2 to 1″. Grill for 4-6 minutes per side or until fish will flake easily with a fork.
- Hamburgers – 1/2 to 3/4″ in thickness. Grill until completely cooked. 10-16 minutes total cooking time.
- Hot dogs and Sausages – Pre-cooked: Cook until product is completely warmed through – 4-6 minutes. For Raw: Pre-cook either in a skillet or boil in BEER!, then finish on the grill. 8-12 minutes.