How To Become A Grill Master

Everyday at 5pm the air became filled with the smell barbecue from nearly every house on the island. Parents would pour a glass of wine or open a beer, as the kids hit the outdoor showers while they prepared dinner. Now as we’ve gotten older, we’ve realized it isn’t as easy as our parents made it look back in the day. There’s nothing worse than ruining the perfect barbecue by not moving the meat from direct heat fast enough or cutting into it too quickly. Here are a few fool proof tips that have helped us make our cookouts go a bit smoother:

1. Direct vs. Indirect Cooking: As the name implies, direct cooking means placing the food directly over an even heat source on the grill (gas or charcoal). It’s most ideal to cook foods that require less than 25 minutes to cook, such as steaks, chops, boneless chicken breasts, burgers and hot dogs. Make sure to flip half way thru to ensure even exposure on both sides. For foods that need a longer cooking time, such as roasts, whole poultry, or ribs, the indirect grilling method should be used. However, a third option is also common: using a mixture of the two. For example, a thick steak (approx. 1-½-inch), can be seared over direct heat for a short period of time and then moved to indirect heat. This technique will give those crispy, dark grill marks to the meat and then continue to internally cook the meat without overly browning the outside.

2.Shaping the perfect burger: As burgers cook, they tend to puff up in the middle. This makes the tops rounded, doesn’t cook the meat evenly and makes it awkward to pile on toppings. To combat this problem, make a little indentation with your thumb on the top of each raw burger. So when the middle rises, it will all even itself out. Boom.

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3. Pre-prep: A little prep can go a long way in the BBQ world -- like soaking bamboo skewers prior to kebobing. However, if you’re like us and don’t always remember, make it easier for yourself and soak a big batch of skewers once for an hour, then freeze them in a plastic bag. When it’s time to grill, simply put out as many as you need.

4. Grill Pan: We’ve all been there -- slowly seeing those few twelve asparagus or shrimp fall thru the cracks of the grill. The toes curl under the sandals and the heart sinks. Forget all that and opt for a grill pan. It will keep the food from falling through the cooking grate while also giving it that summer barbecue charred taste.

5. Marinating - Building a marinade starts with the basics: a little acid (ex: lemon juice or vinegar), a little oil (ex: olive oil), and a whole bunch of good flavor (ex: fresh herbs). Try and stick with the ratio like in salad dressings of acid to oil: 1:3. The acidity makes the meat more tender while the oil provides moisture to the meat, while also helping it brown and crisp.

6. Meat thermometer: Remember that old trick Uncle Bob used to try and teach you about the inside of your hand having the same toughness as the meat for rare or medium? Yeah, us too. It never seems to work. So ditch that trick and purchase a meat thermometer. It takes a matter of seconds and will give you an exact reading of the internal temperature of the meat so you can cook it just how you want.

7. R&R: Give the meat some rest and relaxation after you’ve cooked it for juicy, perfectly cooked meat. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat. By leaving it uncovered, the food can steam and make the crust golden brown instead of soggy.

Then...after finishing up our last bites we’d run to the bayside to watch the sunset.

Sea's the Day!
Written by: Caroline Danehy

caroline danehy