Take It Outside: Five Tips For the Grill

As the temperature heats up, we like to move our cooking from the kitchen, outside to the grill. There are so many advantages to preparing meals, cookout-style:

  • It keeps the house cooler (we can put off turning on the AC a little longer!).
  • It requires that we spend some time out in the yard (never leave the grill unattended!), frolicking in the sunshine and enjoying being outdoors.
  • It gives us more opportunities to eat really good food.

We know you already know plenty about outdoor cooking, and we bet you are familiar with our line of spice rubs and blends. But here are five more grilling tips to tweak your cookout skills:

On the hot seat. Quick-cooking entrees, like hamburgers or vegetables, (or tender cuts of meat like rib eye steak), cook best over direct heat.
Foods that cook for half an hour or longer (like ribs, roasts, etc.) usually call for indirect heat; keep the grill covered (no peeking!) to keep the heat and smoke in, and cook the food from all sides of the grill.

Whisper words of wisdom: let it veg. A light coating of extra virgin olive oil keeps tender vegetables like bell peppers from sticking or burning on the grill.

Be tender with that rub! We might call it a spice rub, but you’ll want to gently pat the seasonings onto the meat, to avoid messing up the texture of what you’re cooking.

Seventh-inning sauce. Many BBQ sauces are built around a sweet element like apple juice, molasses, or brown sugar. Applying sauce to the meat too early in the game can result in sugars in the sauce burning. Burnt sugar on a fine cut of meat can negatively impact flavor. Apply your sauce in the last half hour of the cooking.

Burgers: the patty-cake. If you make your (ground beef or other) burger patties by hand, shape its diameter to be a little bigger than that of the bun you’ll serve it on. Once cooked, the burger will shrink to the approximate size of a grocery-store bun.
Your know-it-all brother-in-law probably likes to wield his spatula to assert his authority over the grill, frequently flipping and pressing his burgers as they cook. Word to the wise: frequent flippings and squishings will yield a dry and less flavorful burger. When it’s your turn to cook, flip once, and don’t squish.

P.S. Avoid lighter fluid when you’re cooking with charcoal – it can inadvertently flavor what you’re cooking. Give yourself plenty of time to let the coals get good and hot before you start cooking.

Photo credit: “cookout… anyone?” by thomas23 on flickr