Do you love to grill? My family does, and we do it all summer long. Other families (yes, Facebook fans, I heard you!) grill all year round. Whether you are a summer-griller like my family or an all-year-round griller like others, these tips will help you grill better.
TIP 1: Control Flare-ups
Last summer while camping, a fabulous steak I was cooking had breathtaking flare-ups (flames shot into the air), scaring neighboring campers. Turns out, if I had trimmed the steak it wouldn't have happened. "Remove visible fat from meat and poultry before grilling to help prevent flare-ups and excess smoke formation," says the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
TIP 2: Prevent Sticking
Don't you just hate when you are grilling something and it gets stuck to the grill grates? Here's how to stop that from happening. First, make sure the grill is preheated. "The rule of thumb is to place your hand five inches over the grates; if it's ready you'll be able to leave your hand there for two seconds," says Kate Johnston, spokeswoman for The Pampered Chef. Also, using a high-heat cooking oil spray can help too.
TIP 3: Use Grill Tools
Turning food can be challenging, but with the right tools, it is a breeze. Use tongs for steaks, chicken, sausages, hot dogs and the like. Fish is better off grilled in a basket, since it's so delicate ... but if you don't have one, use a spatula. Grill tools are better than kitchen ones for this since they have longer handles, keeping you further from the high heat and flames.
TIP 4: Get Great Flavor
There are several ways to get a fabulous flavor when you grill things. First, you can season with spices. A simple sprinkle of salt and pepper can really enhance proteins on the grill. Or get fancier, adding sprinkles of things like cumin, cardamom, paprika and other spices.
Marinating is another way to get flavorful meat from the grill. According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: "Always marinate in the refrigerator. Tender beef cuts can be marinated for 15 minutes to 2 hours for flavor. Less tender beef cuts should be marinated at least 6 hours -but no more than 24 hours- in a mixture containing an acidic ingredient or a natural tenderizing enzyme. Pat beef dry after removing from marinade to promote even browning and prevent steaming." Discard marinade after use.
Finally, glazing is also an option ... but you need to do it smartly. "It's a common mistake to put the sauce on at the beginning, but it can often result in a charred flavor. Wait until the last few minutes to brush on sauces and the end result will be a flavorful glaze, instead of a burned mess," advises Johnston.
Ready for grilling? Here are some recipes to try today:
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah's Cucina Bella.