10 Tips to Help You Grill Like a Man
This is a guest post by James Nicholson who writes about all things manly at Just A Guy Thing. Subscribe to his site to get your daily dose of manliness.
Memorial Day is upon us and that means the start of grilling season. Every guy knows that to truly be a man, you need to know your way around a grill. Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, here are 10 tips to help you unleash your inner grill master:
1. Get the right tools. You can’t be a grill meister without the proper tools. Make sure you have a good spatula, tongs, grill brush, and a meat thermometer. Each of these implements needs to be big so that you can easily flip a large burger or turn massive steaks. Also make sure the handles are long enough to flip lots of things at once without burning yourself.
2. Clean the grill. If you don’t properly clean the grill, your food will taste like soot, no matter what you do to it. The best way to clean a grill is to get it very hot (if you’re using a gas grill turn all the burners on high). Leave the grill at full temp for 10-15 minutes to burn off all the stuff from the last time you barbequed. Then thoroughly scrape down the grill using your long handled grill brush. Make sure the brush can handle high temperatures - not all can.
3. Know the difference between direct and indirect cooking. Direct cooking over high heat sears the meat, giving it a nice crust. Indirect cooking, which is done over medium or low heat, cooks the interior of the meat without completely charring the outside. To accomplish this using a charcoal grill, stack up the coals higher on one side than the other. With a gas grill, turn one burner on high and leave the rest at medium. For indirect cooking, you’ll need to keep the lid down.
4. Use enough charcoal. What’s the point of spending $50 on steaks and then steaming them over a puny flame? You’re a man - you need a big fire! If in doubt, add more charcoal than you think you’ll need. Make sure you wait at least 30 minutes for the charcoal to reach the proper temperature.
5. Make oil your friend. What’s the secret to making sure burgers and veggies don’t stick to the grill? Place a large dab of cooking oil into a wad of paper towel and then (using your long handled tongs, not your hands!) wipe the grill with the oiled towel just before you put on the food. Make sure you swipe the paper towel quickly over the grill so it doesn’t burn.
6. Don’t apply barbeque sauce too soon. Unless you want a charred mess, wait until close to the end of the cooking time before adding sweet, sticky barbeque sauces to your meat. Adding the sauce during direct cooking only burns the sugars in them, making the meal unpalatable.
7. Know how to cook perfect steaks. Grilling a steak is not as easy as it looks. First, make sure the steak is at room temperature and season it with a bit of salt and pepper. You’ll first want to sear the meat on high heat for 2-3 minutes a side. Then move it to the cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Using a meat thermometer is the only accurate way to know how well done the steaks are. 125 degrees for rare, 140 degrees for medium, and 150 degrees for medium-well. Make sure you let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving.
8. Don’t forget the veggies. Grilled vegetables make great accompaniments with plenty of bright, intense flavors. Asparagus, eggplant, portobello mushrooms, onions, zucchini and bell peppers are especially well suited to grilling. Make sure you slice the veggies thick so they don’t char too quickly and use a dab of oil on the grill as noted above. It’s easy to overcook vegetables, so keep a close eye on them.
9. The key to great corn on the cob. Few vegetables embody summer like corn on the cob, but too often corn turns out charred and tasteless when grilled. The key to perfect, delicious corn on the cob is to peel down the outer husk to just one layer. Removing most, but not all, of the husk allows the charcoal flavor to infuse the corn without letting it char.
10. Know what to pair with your meat. Pairing the right adult beverage with your food brings your grilled meal to the next level. If you’re drinking beer, a darker, heaver brew will go with beef dishes while a lighter beer like a Hefeweizen pairs nicely with chicken or seafood. Similarly, a big, spicy red wine like a Zinfandel complements grilled red meat while a light white like a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis goes with white meats and fish.
One final tip: if you’re hosting a big cook-out with lots of people watching, you might want to practice ahead of time. Learning on the job with a dozen friends watching can be pressure-packed. Like exercise, grilling gets easier the more you do it.