One of the best things about summer is outdoor grilling. Gathering of friends, food and drinks make for an unforgettable time. And just imagine all of those healthy dishes you can produce with very little cleanup! But what if you’ve never cooked on a grill before or had very little luck. Then what? Take a look at the following tips on grilling and start planning your summertime gathering.
Charcoal vs. Gas
One of the age old questions is whether using a charcoal grill or a gas grill is the best option. Let’s face it; each type of grill has its perks! While grilling with gas is quick and convenient, nothing produces the smokiness of charcoal. So how do you choose? Let’s break it down.
- Gas Grills – These grills run on propane and have an ignition setting to help regulate the amount of heat produced. This makes cooking on a gas grill very convenient as well as much cleaner.
- Charcoal Grill – Charcoal is used to produce the heat that your food will cook on and therefore harder to get started and the heat cannot be regulated. The taste of the food that is produced will be smokier and richer in flavor. But, carbon monoxide and soot make charcoal grilling messier.
Basic Grilling Techniques
Some people limit themselves on what they cook on a grill. But the thing is you can cook almost anything on one. From grilling meat, to veggies, to fruit and even French toast, you can cook nearly anything on a grill! Think of it as your outdoor oven. So here are some basic grilling tips to follow:
- Preheat your oven for 15-25 minutes prior to cooking. This helps your grill reach the right cooking temperature as well as allows for the killing of any bacteria. When properly heated, your grill will sear your food upon contact, keeping the inside moist and preventing the food from sticking to the grill.
- It is easier to remove any debris left over from the food when the grill is still hot. After preheating your grill you should use a long-handled wire grill brush to clean your grill rack. Make sure you also scrape your grill again immediately after grilling your food.
- When cooking lean foods, you will probably notice that it sticks to the rack even when the grill is clean. So, to help reduce the amount of food sticking, you should oil your hot grill rack with vegetable oil that has been soaked into a paper towel. Using tongs grasps the paper towel and rub it over the rack. Remember, you should never use cooking sprays on a hot grill!
- Marinating your food helps to infuse it with flavor. It also helps to reduce the formation of potentially harmful HCAs that can form when you are grilling “muscle meats” like poultry, red meat and fish. Marinating can reduce HCAs by 92%-99%.
Is it done yet?
One of the hardest things to determine when cooking on the grill is deciding when your food is cooked properly. There is nothing like cutting into a slice of meat only to discover that it really needed to be cooked longer. So how can one eliminate the guesswork out of grilling meat? The answer is simple, use a meat thermometer to discover the internal temperature. Here is a list of internal meat temperatures according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
- Poultry – 165 degrees
- Beef – 145 degrees (medium – 140 degrees and rare – 135 degrees)
- Pork – 145 degrees
- Fish – 145 degrees