Friday, August 28, 2009

Grilling Tips

With Labor Day rapidly approaching, the traditional "Grilling Season" is nearing its end. Here are a few grilling tips to make the most of the waning season.

1. Keep It Hot. Preheat your grill, otherwise food will stick. When your grill is ready, you will be able to hold your hand five inches above the grate for two seconds if the fire is “hot” and three to four seconds if the fire is “medium-hot.”

2. Grill Safely. Don’t grill in an enclosed area and be sure your grill is on stable ground before firing it up.
Use baking soda to control a grease fire, not water. Have a fire extinguisher, bucket of sand, or garden hose on hand.

3. Have Everything Nearby. The culinary term is mise en place. Have everything you'll need close at hand before you start cooking. You don't want your food to burn by the time you run back inside the house to find what you need.

4. Keep It Clean. Make sure there is no left over debris on your grates. It will make your food stick as well as give it an off, burnt, or flinty flavor.

5. Oil. Make sure you oil either the immediate cooking surface or the food before cooking. This helps keep your food from sticking and makes it easier to clean up later.

6. Decide If You Need a Single-Level or Dual-Level Fire. A single-level fire heats the grill evenly, either with all the gas burners on the same setting, or with the charcoal equally spread out. This method is used for cooking things fast. A dual-level fire (also called indirect grilling) has most if not all, of the charcoal banked to one side, or the burners on a gas grill adjusted to high on one side and the others turned off or set to low. This method allows you to sear your food on the hot side then let it finish cooking on the low side so it cooks evenly and doesn't burn.

7. Leave an Unheated Space on the Grill. Even if you’re cooking over a single-level fire, leave a small space unheated so that you have somewhere to move food if you have a flare-up or if something is cooking too fast.

8. Decide If You Want Your Lid Up or Down. Remember that a closed lid traps moist heat and smoke. So, what you're cooking will determine the position of your lid.

9. Sauce Later. Saucing too soon is a common mistake. If you brush your food with sauce at the beginning of cooking, chances are you will burn it. Wait until the last few minutes to apply your sauce and you’ll get a nice glaze instead of a black, charred mess.

10. Don’t Forget Food Safety. Check for proper doneness with an instant-read thermometer and use separate plates for cooked and raw foods. If you want to use a marinade as a sauce, either reserve some that hasn’t come in contact with raw foods, or boil it first to destroy any bacteria.