It’s that time of year once again, summer has finally arrived. The days are getting longer, and everyone is spending more time outside. Time to dust off that old barbecue and get cooking. Here are some general tips (you may or may not already know) to follow when you are barbecuing.
1. Cleaning the Grate
Before you do this though you need to get your barbecue hot so its easier to clean. When the grill is hot enough (probably around 3 to 5 minutes of high heat) take the wire brush and scrub. Make sure you scrub it clean removing all of that blackened nastiness. Your food is going to be touching this so its best to make it clean. (Image Source)
1.5 Oiling Your Grate
I’ll include this step because its something you should do right after you clean your cooking surface. You want to oil the grilling surface to help keep your foods from sticking to the grate. Dip some paper towels in a high-heat cooking or vegetable oil and lightly oil the grill surface. You want to use these specific types of oils because you don’t want the oil to burn off before you start placing your food on the surface. Make sure you are using tongs as not to burn your hands off in this process.
2. Choosing Your Fuel Source
Gas, or charcoal? If you are anything like Hank Hill this is not even a question but there is a right situation for both. This is completely based on preference but there are some things to keep in mind here. Barbecuing with gas gives you a cleaner heat, meaning that whatever you got on the grill will not be absorbing any of the extra flavors from its heat source. That being said cooking with charcoal adds a smokey flavor to whatever it is you are cooking. That’s where the preference comes in.
3. Preheat Your Grill
When you are barbecuing it is an absolute must to preheat your grill for two reasons. One is to make sure you are killing all of the bacteria left on your grill surface. Two is that barbecuing is a quick process that requires high heat. It’s not a crock pot, you aren’t slowly cooking your food over a long period of time. You are getting your food onto the grill and searing it to add that delicious barbecue flavor and getting it off to keep the insides still moist. The proper heating for your grill is dependent on what you are planning on cooking. Here are some temperatures to keep in mind for different meats brought to you by the Food Network (Image Source). Be forewarned though, these are not definitive ranges to check when your meat is done, that’s in the next step.
4. How to Tell When Your Meat is Done
Its always good to test the done-ness of your meat based on what you see rather than just using time cooked under a certain heat. Knowing how hot and how long you have cooked something is good to know so you know when you should start checking on your food.
What you want to be doing though is looking at the internal temperature. The best thing you can do is invest in a good food thermometer and check the internal temperature. If you don’t have one on hand another good way is by using your hand. You take your thumb and bring it to each one of your fingers. Now feel the meaty part of your palm and see how firm it is and compare that to the meat you are cooking:
- Rare is your thumb not touching any of your fingers.
- Medium-Rare is your thumb and index finger touching.
- Medium is your thumb and middle finger touching.
- Medium-Well is your thumb and ring finger touching.
- Well is your thumb and your pinky touching.
Also it is important to let your meat sit or rest after you take it off the grill. This allows the meat to retain all of its delicious juices locked inside and keep it from drying out. When barbecuing the name of the game is keeping the outside nice and crispy while the inside moist and juicy.
5. Have Fun with It and Experiment
This step is as important as all of the others. Barbecuing is meant to be fun and a way to cook your foods with flavors you can’t normally get from normal stove or oven cooking. Experiment with different charcoals and smokes. Better yet try smoking your meats beforehand. Look up online different marinate and rub combinations to try on your meat to get great exotic flavors. Summer is a time of fun outdoor activities and barbecuing should be no exception to that.