Grilling Basics

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Spring is here and summer is approaching fast. If you are lucky to live in the Southern States, there’s almost never a time you CAN’T grill outside. But for the rest of the country, here’s a refresher course to grilling.

Gas vs Coals

To some, there is no other option to grillin’ except with charcoal. For the rest of us, let’s take a look at some differences. If you are looking to buy a grill, cost is a major difference between a charcoal grill and a gas one. Charcoal grills are definitely cheaper than gas grills. You are looking at spending as little as $20 to as much as $100 for a charcoal grill. Gas grills can cost as much as $400, depending on all the gadgets involved, construction surrounding the grill, etc.. As far as convenience is concerned, gas grills light up with a switch and are ready to use immediately, while charcoal grills take a good 30 minutes until they reach cooking temperature. The main controversy between gas versus charcoal is taste. Many believe that charcoal grills offer more smokey flavor not found in gas grills. Although, gas grill manufacturers do sell smokey briquettes to provide that extra something. As taste varies from mouth to mouth, take the taste test yourself and decide.

Gadgets

You will need a few inexpensive tools to help you grill.
Grill brush: used to brush the grill grate clean, before and after grilling
Oil: lightly oil cooking grate right before cooking so food won’t stick
Extra-wide metal spatula: great for flipping burgers, steaks and fish fillets
Long-handled fork: helps lift cooked food from the grill. Do not pierce the meat while cooking or the meat’s juices will come out
Basting brush: used to oil your cooking grate and to add any special sauce to food
Skewers: if using wood, make sure you soak 10 minutes prior to grilling to prevent burning.
Grill mitt: you will need more protection from a larger sized mitt compared to the smaller ones used indoors
Long-handled tongs: great for lifting or turning most foods.
Timer: in case you are too busy talking or drinking while grilling
Instant-read thermometer: the best way to see if food is cooked thoroughly and prevent over-cooking.

Direct vs Indirect cooking

For direct cooking, food is placed directly over the flames/coals. Make sure there
is enough charcoal in a single layer to extend 1-2″ beyond the area of the
food on the grill. Pour briquets into the grill to determine quantity needed
then stack them into pyramid to start.

For indirect cooking, food is placed over a drip pan and the coals
are banked to one or both sides of the pan. This method is recommended
for large cuts of meat, such as roasts, and fatty meats to eliminate flare-ups.

Temperature

If you don’t have a grill thermometer, as most don’t, here’s a quick way to estimate your heat. Hold your hand palm facing down, just above the grill. Count “one-thousand=one” etc…. If you can keep your hand in place before pulling away:
2 seconds-it’s a hot fire (approx. 375ºF)
3 seconds-it’s medium hot (approx. 350ºF)
4 seconds-it’s medium (approx. 300ºF)
5 seconds-it’s a low fire (approx. 250ºF)

Hot Heat: great for searing meats and leaving a caramelized crust on the outside.
Medium-Medium Hot: temperature used most often, great for chicken, hot dogs and burgers.
Low Heat: used for large pieces of meat such as roasts and prime rib. Grilling at low temperatures is a must for meats which are quite high in fat. Please note, it is not recommended to cook any meat at a temperature below 225 °F.

Doneness

The chart below shows both safe temperatures for serving meat and meat doneness temperatures. Remember, meat doneness is highly subjective.

Ground Beef, Pork & Lamb 160º
Ground Turkey & Chicken 165º
Steaks and Lamb
Medium-Rare 145º
Medium 155º
Medium-Well 165º
Well Done 170º
Poultry
Chicken & Turkey, Whole 180º
Breast Meat 170º
Thighs, Wings & Legs 180º
Duck & Goose 180º
Pork
Medium-Rare 150º
Medium 160º
Well Done 170º
Ham
Raw 160º
Pre-Cooked 140º

Grilling Recipes

Here are a few of our favorite recipes that are great for the grill:

Information compiled from:
TexasCook.com
BBQgrillingbasics.com
Weber’s Art of the Grill