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How to Avoid a Grilling Disaster -Tips for the Grilling Challenged Cook
Grilling over charcoal
Avoid Grilling Disasters
There are some natually talented cooks who can make a perfect steak, BBQ chicken or fantastic grilled vegetables with one hand tied behind their backs. Some grilling super chefs can even make grilled pizza! But I had to learn to grill the hard way through years of grilling disasters. If you are a grilling challenged cook like I was, these helpful tips are for you.
Here, garnered from my many grilling disasters as well as from other grilling challenged cooks, are the best useful tips on how to avoid making your dinner into a charcoal flavored disaster.
Grilling Tips - The DOs
Tips for Grilling Chicken
- Do grill over low heat when grilling chicken with skin on. If you grill on high heat, it will be charred on the outside and undercooked inside.
- Do flatten skinless chicken breats to even out thickness of the meat. When grilling skinless chicken breasts that are thin on one end, cover with plastic wrap and pound gently with a meat mallet to make pieces of uniform thickness. They will cook better.
- Do brush BBQ sauce on chicken during the last few minutes of grilling. Putting sauce on too soon will cause the chicken to char. Brush on sauce when chicken is nearly done and just leave on grill long enough to heat it.
- Do move meat to a cooler section of the grill if the grill catches fire. Too much fat dripping on the coals can cause coals to catch fire. Don’t spray with water, just move food to a cooler spot until the fire subsides. Avoid fat fires by trimming excess fat from meat before grilling.
Tips for Grilling Beef
- Do check to see if meat is sticking to grill before turning. Flip burgers when they have cooked enough on one side so that they no longer stick to the grill.
- Do use tongs to turn steaks or burgers so that juices don’t escape.
- Do brush steaks with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper about 20 minutes before grilling to bring out the flavor.
- Do let beef come to room temperature before grilling. It will cook more evenly.
- Do time grilling time for steaks. A good guideline is 8 minutes for a medium rare 1” steak. That’s 4 minutes on each side. See video for detailed instructions.
Tips on How to Grill
- Don’t put the grill too close to the house or the vinyl siding, even if it’s raining, Oh, I can hear you laughing now. Surly only an idiot would do that. Yeah, well, that melted siding didn’t happen from hot sun shining on it…
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT put the steak on the grill and go into the house to get a beer unless you really like beef shoe leather. That steak needs undivided attention for the few minutes it takes to grill it. My husband is generally an excellent cook, but his claim to grilling fame is that he has never met a steak he couldn't ruin. After countless disasters, we had to recall his BBQ tools and delegate him to making the salad. My son, Jeff, who has an incredible talent for grilling everything perfectly, takes over.
- Do Not attempt chicken on a beer can without the proper rack. You know the beer can drunken chickens that people keep raving about? Not that easy and not that great when you are grilling–challenged. First of all, the homemade rigs invariably tip over and spill beer into the grill putting the fire out. Then, you cook it for hours, take out what looks like a perfect chicken and there it is–not quite done. Rare steak o.k., but rare chicken is seldom appealing to your guests. If you have to do the drunken chicken thing, then go ahead and invest in one of the specially made racks that with hold the beer can and the chicken upright.
- Don’t use gasoline to light your charcoal. That naked-face look with no eyebrows really does nothing for you.
- Don't forget to tell your teenagers that the meat marinating in the fridge is raw. If you leave cubes of meat marinating in the fridge overnight and have teens living in the house, be sure to put a sign on the bowl that it’s RAW MEAT! My son once ate half a bowl of beef shish kabobs that were marinating overnight before he decided that they were a little too chewy for him. Oh, yeah, he was sick from it!
- Don’t start grilling chicken without first checking the propane tanks of your gas grill. Running out of gas in the middle of grilling can take the fun out of a BBQ.
- Don't forget to keep a spray bottle of water handy for those times when the fire gets too hot or the food goes up in flames.
- Don't go near a turkey fryer unless you read the directions and adhere to them to the letter. Don’t even get me started on those big old deep fat fryers! How many houses have burned down because somebody decided to fire up the deep fryer on his wooden deck. Fill the fryer up with oil…light the fire… drop in the turkey…splash out the oil onto the wooden deck…oil catches fire…deck catches fire…house burns down. And to top it off, the turkey is ruined, too! How to properly deep fry a turkey -- well that's a whole new hub.