Great grilling secretsGrilling can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you're cooking for a crowd. But with these tips and a little practice, you'll be king or queen of the grill in no time.
1. Control the Heat: Large items like chicken quarters and ribs aren't meant to cook over high heat. Manage heat on a gas grill by turning off the center burners and placing food on the middle of the grill. Adjust burners on the left and right sides to change the temperature. On charcoal, adjusting dampers to restrict airflow will lower the cooking temperature.
2. Stack your Coals: Instead of spreading a thin layer of charcoal across the bottom of your grill, stack lit coals on one side. Place foods that need a quick sear (like thin veggies or steaks) on the coal side. Foods that need longer to cook can be placed on the opposite end with the lid on to contain the heat.
Related: 7 Summer Grilling Recipes
3. Sear at 10 and 2: Pretend your grilling surface is a clock. Point the tips of items like steaks or pork chops at 10 o'clock for a few minutes, followed by 2 o'clock for the same time. Repeat this on the second side and you'll get perfect, diamond shaped grill marks every time. Remember to only flip most foods once, about half way through cooking.
4. Add some Smoke: Wood chips or chunks are a great way to add smoky flavor without smoking foods for hours on end. Soak wood chips for about 30 minutes and place them inside a metal smoker box (or wrap them in a piece of aluminum foil) on a gas grill. If you're cooking with charcoal, scatter the chips across the lit coals.
5. Hit the Perfect Temperature: A thermometer is your best friend at the grill. Not only will you avoid under-cooking foods, you'll make sure you don't overcook. A digital leave-in thermometer is perfect as it lets you check the temperature without lifting the grill lid.
6. Keep Coals Burning: Coals are ready for cooking when they're fully lit and have a thin layer of white ash formed. Expect standard coals to burn 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the weather and the number you use. Keep your fire going by continuously adding new coals before the previous ones go out.
7. Keep Foods Separated: Backyard grilling can be a food safety minefield. Use separate platters, tools, and utensils for raw and cooked foods and never let them mingle.
8. Use the Right Tools for the Job: Life is always easier with the right tools. Oversized grill tools from Cuisinart are a great choice for cooking, and VIP-Award winning Firewire grilling skewers let you sear kebabs anywhere you have the space. When you're all done and ready to clean, the Brushhawg Grill Brush from Char-Broil makes short work of grilled on food.
Related: 10 Ways to Spice Up Your Barbecue
9. Wait to Baste: Basting with sauce adds tremendous flavor, but barbecue sauces burn easily. Try basting in the last few minutes and once foods have been removed from the grill.
10. Practice Ambitious Dishes before Cooking for a Crowd: Desperate to slow-grill a lamb quarter or smoke a pork shoulder for the first time? Try out your techniques before you prepare tough dishes for a crowd.
Do you have any great grilling tips or tricks? Let me know in the comments!
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