Summer and grilling go hand in hand. Whether we’re celebrating a major holiday, enjoying the weekend with family and friends, or marking a special occasion, the grill brings so many options to your backyard or patio. Grilling can be intimidating with so many options and a fear of messing it up (yes, even I experience these!). Fortunately, grilling tips are here to help ease a few of those worries and make the experience even more fun.
Below are a few tips I learned during my time working with the chefs from Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Let me know if you have any additional grilling tips by leaving a comment in the section below.
Prep Pays Off
Some grilling enthusiasts encourage bringing meat to room temperature before grilling, but that raises big flags for food safety concerns. The longer foods sit at room temperature, the greater risk of foodborne pathogens finding their way to your plate. Keep food out of the Danger Zone.
To avoid this risk, plan ahead. If meat needs to be thawed, do so in the fridge prior to grilling, instead of on the counter or in warm water. How long does it take beef to thaw? According to the USDA, you should plan 1 to 2 days ahead when thawing in the refrigerator or 2 to 3 hours when thawing in cold water.
When grilling time comes, pull the meat from the fridge, seasoning well, and get started right away.
Marinating can be a great way to add flavor to lean cuts of beef or to help tenderize less-tender cuts. Tender beef cuts can be marinated for 15 minutes to 2 hours for flavor; less tender cuts, such as Flank Steak, should be marinated for 6 hours, but not more than 24 hours.
Choose a marinade that you enjoy and follow the guidance on how long to marinate – anywhere from an hour to overnight. The Texas Beef Council shares some great tips on marinating your steaks.
Fire It Up
One of the things that really gets me fired up, is a grill grate that is not well maintained. Make sure your grill is clean (to prevent flare-ups) and the rack is well-oiled (to prevent sticking). Invest in a good grill brush and scraper and clean your grill grate when it is hot prior to and after grilling.
If you’re using charcoal, follow the directions for how much you’ll need and how to build the charcoal pile. For gas grills, refer to your owner’s manual and set the grill to medium-high. Too much heat will char your meat and not cook your meat evenly throughout.
Grill Tips for Temperature
Use an ovenproof or instant-read thermometer to monitor doneness. I love my MEATER wireless food thermometer. The thermometer connects via Bluetooth and allows me to monitor cooking times and temperatures via the mobile app for perfect doneness every time.
Let it go! Don’t flip your steaks or burgers too much. One flip is usually all you need, but take care to avoid charring or burning and be ready to turn down the heat (or move to a cooler spot on the grill) if necessary.
Quick grilling tip: You’ll know burgers are ready to flip when they release from the grill grate.
Rest And Relax
Another step novice cooks often overlook: resting the meat before serving-even if you’re hungry. Allowing the steaks or burgers to rest after grilling lets the fibers of the meat relax and reabsorb any juices that may leak out. The internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after coming off the grill and the resting period allows this to complete.
Rest your meat on a cutting board using tented aluminum foil or a clean towel. For most grill-friendly cuts, about five minutes resting is enough.
Across The Grain
Although grain is an important part of raising beef, in this case, it refers to the direction of the muscle fibers in a cut of meat. Take a look at your steak and identify how the muscle fibers align to form parallel lines across the steak.
Slicing “across the grain” means slicing perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, which helps make the meat easier to chew by shortening the length of the fibers, resulting in a more tender and pleasurable eating experience.
Another of my favorite grilling tips that most people miss: hold the salt until just before serving. Salt draws water out of the meat during the cooking process, resulting in a drier cut of meat. For steaks, melt butter on top and hold the sauce to allow the flavor of the meat speak for itself.
There’s no shortage of tips for assembling a great burger. Let’s not forget the eternal debate of cheese placement. Does the cheese go on top or bottom of the burger patty?
Other Grilling Tips
What grilling tips did I miss? Let me know your favorite and time-tested tips for better grilling in the comments section below.
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