Grilling Dos and Don’ts

Ready to barbecue? We're here to help. Read up on dos and don'ts before you light the grill

Grilling Does And Don'ts

When the days turn longer and warmer, it is the perfect time to take out your charcoal grill and arrange a summer cookout. And what is better than the combination of meat, metal grates, and that smoky flavor? With friends and family over, you’ll want to dazzle them with your grilled goodness for sure.

Here are some of the best grilling dos and don’ts for your cookout to turn out as it should—with perfectly cooked and delicious meat!

The Grilling Dos

  1. Seasoning is everything for your meat.  Meat needs more seasoning in general. You have to be liberal with your garlic, chiles and, of course, salt! Salt helps to hold the moisture in the meat, making it really tender. It actually seeps through the protein giving you the perfect base. Try about half a teaspoon of salt for every pound of the meat. Don’t be afraid to try bold flavors as the meat can hold up to it. You can even try the other varieties for seasonings like sweet-spicy brine or a spicy glaze. Oh! Don’t forget your lemon!
  2. Understand the correct cooking method for your food. The two types of cooking are direct-heat cooking and indirect-heat cooking. You should know which method to employ for your food. Thin steaks, vegetables, fish, and other foods that cook quickly all come in the former category. This will ensure good flavor, and quick cooking without burning. For the latter category, you can grill large roasts, birds, and ribs. These items all cook for longer periods of time, so you want an even heat that won't burn or overcook part of the food while the other's still not cooked through. Understand the difference and use logic to differentiate among your food for grilling.
  3. Cook your meat straight out of the fridge. The reason people love barbecue is because of the smoky flavor. The smoke has the tendency to be drawn to cold surfaces. So, instead of waiting for your steak to come to room temperature, start grilling it as soon as you take it out from the fridge. You’ll find the meat to be more flavorful because of the perfect smoke it’ll have from grilling.
  4. Give your grill some tender loving care.  We’re sure you must already be doing this, but we want to bring things into perspective here. Food chunks or grease that remains on the grill grate for your last grilling session will also transfer flavor to the foods you are currently cooking. And it won't be good. Keeping your grill clean before and after grilling will help you get the best flavor possible.
  5. Preheat your grill fully. You want the grill marks to be on your meat, right? That's the whole point of grilling! If you put meat on the grill too soon, you won’t get that perfect sear and grill marks. Oiling your grate before grilling can also do the trick. This facilitates the quick transfer of heat and it also prevents food from sticking to the grates.

The Grilling Don’ts

  1. Don’t let your meat ‘sit’. This is a very common mistake. Your meat doesn’t need to sit to be juicy and flavorful. When the steak is piping hot, the burst of flavors on your tongue is the only right way to have it. If while eating, there is juice oozing out from your meat, you can always dip other slices of meat in it.
  2. Don’t pile different food on to your grill. Sausages, burgers, fish, and lamb chops may all sound delicious together. But control yourself. Instead of getting excellently cooked food, you might just end up with raw chicken and burnt chops. The heat and cooking time is different for different types of food. Select those which go together. Why complicate life when it is supposed to be easy?
  3. Don’t just throw your charcoal chunks in and light them. There is no reason to fill the entire grill with an even layer of charcoal or briquettes and light it all. You can plan your station. Half of the grill can be at direct heat and the other half can be at indirect heat. Opt for a pyramid-style charcoal arrangement here. If a particular food item is cooking too fast, you can shift it to the areas of low heat.
  4. Don’t rush your grilling process... or cut the meat. A perfect barbecue needs the investment of time and effort. If you try to rush the process, you may make mistakes and end with burnt or raw meat. Also, try not to cut the meat when cooking. When we cut the poultry or meat, the juice can seep out leaving us with just seasoned meat chunks. If you do want to check whether the meat is done, try a thermometer instead.

Grilling on a charcoal grill is one of the great joys of summer. Hopefully these tips will ensure you have a successful cookout.

Resources— Quick and Dirty TipsWilliams Sonoma