As the temperature rises and the weather gets warmer, there is no doubt that more people will be spending more time outside grilling. For some of you, that may mean a patio grill. Others may be looking for an alternative that’s a little more convenient. Regardless of whether you’re a BBQ expert or not, you might still learn something from these 6 tips.
1. Start Your Fire The Right Way
Many novice grillers will head directly for the lighter fluid or, even worse, fire-starting briquettes. This is a big mistake as both of these are not only expensive but will also ruin the flavor of your delicious food. The real way to get a fire started is by using what is known as a charcoal chimney. If you’re wondering how to use a charcoal chimney, it is essentially a fire-box or otherwise known as a smoke pipe or smoke stove that you fill with charcoal. They come in two different types: vertical and horizontal. A vertical charcoal chimney consists of two square-top tubes placed side by side, joined at the bottom to form a single one. A horizontal charcoal chimney consists of two tubes laid out horizontally which are joined at the bottom to form one tube larger than the other.
2. Don’t Over Do The Charcoal
Once you have got your chimney, you might think about filling it up to the brim. However, as with everything in life, moderation is the key. Too much charcoal and your grill will be too hot, but not enough, and you won’t get a decent burn. There is also the fact that different foods will require differing amounts of coal to produce the correct heat. Generally speaking, if you want to create intense heat, i.e., over 450 F, you should fill your chimney up to the top. For medium heat when cooking food such as delicate chicken or vegetables around 350 F, you should aim to fill it about halfway (no more than three quarters at the most). Anything that requires a lower heat means that you should only fill it up about one quarter.
3. Preheat Your Grate
When cooking meat in a skillet, it is always recommended to ensure the pan is piping hot before you place the ingredients into it. Using this method will ensure that you can create a perfect crust around the meat, searing it and preserving all of the juices and flavor. The same is valid for grilling. Therefore, before you place your juicy, tender pieces of meat on the grill, be sure to get the grate as hot as possible. You should know when it’s ready because you will see it ever so slightly begin to smoke.
4. Utilize Direct And Indirect Heat
To get the best out of your grill, you must understand how to use direct and indirect heat. The best way to do this in a grill is to create two sections. You can move the hot coals over to one side and gradually taper it down like a hill of coals. The direct heat is the section with white-hot charcoal, and the indirect is the section with less coal. It is still hot but used to keep food warm rather than to cook it. Essentially, Direct heat is when the coals are white-hot, and your food is directly on top of them. This is when the cooking happens. By mastering the different sections of the grill, you will cook your food better and avoid overcooking anything.
5. Manage Flare-Ups Correctly
Some amount of flame grilling is acceptable, but when the flames take over, you’ll find that your food becomes bitter and burnt. Flare-ups occur when oils or fats drip onto the hot coals below and ignite. They can be minor or produce pretty significant flames. The best way to deal with this is to use the sections you set up earlier. In other words, when you see them happening, you should move the meat causing it over to an indirect heating zone. This will allow it to cool down and stop any more flare-ups from happening.
6. Consider Using Wood For Extra Flavor
It is important to use wood when grilling because it will impart a smoky flavor to the meat. The type of wood that you use also affects the texture of the grilled meat. Four main types of wood can be used on grills:
- Fruit woods
Hardwood gives a crisp texture, while hickory creates a milder and richer flavor. Test out different woods to see which flavors they produce. The best way to learn how to add flavor to various foods to enhance their flavor profiles is to experiment.
Charcoal grilling is arguably the most popular method of cooking meat. It’s portable, relatively easy, and a lot of fun. But to do it correctly, you need to follow specific rules. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to call yourself a genuine grill master!