Six Tips to Help You Master the Grill
6 Tips to Master the Grill
Punctuated by the likes of graduation ceremonies, beach trips, pool parties and picnics, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer. And while it’s typically spent celebrating with family and friends, as we lie in the narrow wake of a global pandemic, we have a hunch that the typical festivities we’ve enjoyed in years past will this year be rather limited.
But if we know one thing for certain, it’s that firing up the grill and cooking for a crowd [of any size] will never disappear from our MDW plans.
SO, HOW DO YOUR GRILL SKILLS STACK UP?
Whether you’re celebrating the start to summer with just your dog and your roommate or your entire quaran-team of ten is joining you on the back patio, the pressure is ON to grill up a Memorial Day feast that you’ll be salivating over for years to come. Because…what else will we have to think back on fondly?
To make sure your skills on the grill will make a lasting impression, our very own Wesley Adams has offered up a few simple tips that will make your MDW totally lit.
1. USE A CHARCOAL GRILL – NOT GAS.
While we can understand the appeal of gas grills, ten times out of ten we will suggest you use the charcoal variety. Think about it: the entire reason to use the grill is to impart that delicious, charred, smoky, woodsy flavor onto whatever it is you’re preparing. You simply can’t get that from gas. But our preference doesn’t just stop with the grill, itself. Great food begins with great ingredients; and when it comes to grilling, charcoal is ingredient zero.
2. USE QUALITY CHARCOAL
And get a bag of the good stuff — not the dinky briquettes. Even though briquettes sometimes boast even, longer-lasting heat, lump charcoal has the ability to get hotter overall, which means a better sear for whatever you’re preparing. Furthermore, lump charcoal will not only impart deep, delicious flavor onto your food, but it will also help maintain the premium quality for which Bare Bones’ products are known. Because, did we mention? Chemicals and additives are used to produce those pellet-like briquettes. That means that if you opt to grill with them, your food will be made with chemicals and additives, too. Gross. Who wants to ingest unnecessary chemicals? Not us.
3. CONTROL THE HEAT; CONTROL THE MEAT
Lump charcoal creates a powerful heat gradient, which is a real game-changer when it comes to grilling. “As opposed to scattering the charcoal evenly across the bottom of the grill, I dump it all onto one side and leave the other side empty,” says Wesley. “That way I have one side that’s crazy-hot and one side that’s moderate.”
This means you can grill directly on the hot spot to sear your steak or chop, and then move it to the indirect heat to finish cooking it through. Why? Because if you don’t finish it in the moderate heat, it’ll be undercooked or even raw on the inside; it’s just like if you seared a big steak on the cast-iron but didn’t finish it in the oven. Alternatively, with sausages you’ll want to start them on indirect heat until they’re fairly firm and starting to sizzle, and then move them to the direct heat to get some char and color. If you’d put the sausages directly onto the hotspot first, they would expand too quickly and explode out of their casings. No Bueno.
4. USE PROPER SUBSTRATES TO START YOUR FIRE AND KEEP IT HOT
Using appropriate fire-starters to heat things up can actually make or break your grill out. Instead of using lighter fluid to set your charcoal aflame, we suggest stuffing the bottom of your fire chimney with brown paper bags or egg cartons (like those you would get from BBB), and then set the paper materials aflame to ultimately heat up the charcoal. This slow burn method will do exactly that: slowly and evenly heat up the charcoal.
5. OIL YOUR GRILL GRATE
The fact of the matter is, your grill grate will end up tarnishing and rusting over time. But by oiling the grate, you can prolong the lifespan of your grill and best of all, end up seasoning your grate like you would a good skillet. Simply drizzle some oil onto your grill brush and go to town right before you put the food on (if you don’t have a grill brush, you could also ball up some tin foil and drizzle oil on that.) Doing so will of course help the food not stick, but it will also prevent the rust from completely ruining your grill. That said, don’t fear the rust — just give it a little love.
6. BE CREATIVE
We love grilling steaks, chops, drumsticks, hot dogs — all the meats; you name ‘em — but have you ever tried cutting an avocado in half, drizzling it with a little salt and oil, and then throwing it onto the grill to char before adding it to your green salad? What about pizza night over the flames? Or dessert al fresco? Perhaps your standard Caesar salad could get an upgrade by grilling quarters of romaine and then serving it more like a steakhouse wedge. Heck, the best way to get better at grilling is to just keep grilling, so you may as well have a little fun with it.