Grilled and Sauced to Perfection
Grilling is synonymous with summer. It’s a chance to get out and enjoy the fresh air, socialize, and cook without having to heat up an already-warm house. If you’re a first-time griller, only grill occasionally, or it’s been a while, here are some quick tips to kick off grilling season.
One of the keys to grilling success is to properly prep your grill. After preheating your grill, brush off any charred bits. A well-maintained grill will last longer and have fewer flare-ups, which can ruin your meal. Oil the grate before cooking to prevent foods from sticking to the grill. Simply dip a paper towel in a high-heat cooking oil such as canola, and use a pair of tongs to carefully rub it across the grates.
Consider using a brine or marinade before grilling. A brine is a salt-based solution that helps meat maintain moisture, especially when cooked over high heat. While marinades also help retain moisture, their primary function is flavor. In both cases you’ll want to submerge the chicken in the liquid for several hours to absorb the seasonings. Whether you brine or marinate or season dry, before grilling, you want to bring the chicken to room temperature. Taking the chill off the meat helps ensure it will cook evenly.
Let It Be
As tempting as it can be to poke, prod, and turn items on the grill, too much attention is detrimental. Continuous movement can cause foods to stick to the grill and cook unevenly. Let the meat cook fully on one side before flipping. When it’s time to move the chicken, use tongs or a spatula rather than a fork. Pricking the chicken with a fork allows juices to escape resulting in drier meat.
Use Proper Heat
Direct heat is ideal for smaller cuts of meat that cook quickly or for searing meat before moving to lower heat to finish cooking. Indirect heat uses the heat from the grill without the exposure to the fire to cook foods slower, ideal for larger cuts or whole birds, which cook more evenly away from the flame.
Know When It’s Done
To check for doneness, use an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the cut to ensure it has reached at least 165˚F. Once the chicken is removed from the grill, be sure to let it rest before eating. This allows juices to be reabsorbed by the meat. Cut into the meat too soon and it will dry out. Once the chicken is ready, pair it with a great barbecue sauce.
Clean and Prep Your Grill
Grill grates covered in grease and grime can lend unpleasant flavors to the next round of food you cook. A thorough cleaning and re-seasoning not only removes excess gunk, it helps prevent foods from sticking and improves the grill’s ability to sear meats and veggies. Follow these steps to get your grill sparkling clean and ready for summer.
1. Soak grill grates in hot, soapy water to make sure they are free of grime and buildup, then wipe them clean.
2. Empty the drip pan, soak in hot, soapy water, and wipe clean.
3. While the grill grates are off, brush the tops of the burners with a wire brush to remove any blockages.
4. Clear debris from the bottom of the grill.
5. Use a grill brush to clean the inside of the lid and remove any carbon or soot buildup.
6. When you’ve finished deep cleaning, re-season the grill grates by dabbing a paper towel with some oil; generously spread the oil over the tops and sides of the grates, then return them to the grill.
Reduce the need for a thorough deep-clean by cleaning it well after each use. When you’ve finished cooking your food and removed it from the grill, close the hood and keep the grill on high for five to 10 minutes to burn off any leftover food or grease. Turn off the grill, and when it’s warm (but not hot), use a wire brush or wooden scraper to remove remaining particles. To prevent rust, apply a high-heat cooking oil, which will also keep food from sticking to the grates. If you didn’t have time to clean the grates after cooking, you can also do so after you’ve preheated the grill before your next cookout.