Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Grilling Tips and Tools

We all know it's grilling time, and I keep reading articles with tips that every griller should know, so here's a summary of the points that all of them mention.

The Tips

  1. Gas or Charcoal? Obviously, the gas grill is more convenient, and definitely quicker. emit more carbon monoxide, contributing to pollution in the atmosphere, so if that is one of your worries, go for gas. However, most people agree that the food tastes smokier and richer when grilled over charcoal - so I guess it's down to personal preference on this one.
  2. There is no debate over this issue. All agree that the grill must be HOT. For charcoal , light up 30-40 minutes before you want to start grilling. This gives the coals time to reach the correct temperature for a hot fire. For gas grills, allow 10-15 minutes to preheat the lava rocks to the desired temperature. For cast iron grill pans, set over a medium high heat 3 minutes before grilling. To see if it is hot enough, splash a few drops of water on the surface, they should sizzle and evaporate immediately. For broilers, allow 5-10 minutes to preheat an electric broiler, and 3-5 minutes for a gas broiler before you want to start.
  3. Get organized. Be sure to have everything on hand. Outdoor grilling is high speed, high heat cooking. You don't want to have to run back to the kitchen for tongs, salt, pepper and plates.
  4. Even on a clean grill, food will stick. Reduce sticking by oiling the hot grill rack with a vegetable oil soaked paper towel. Hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. Never spray cooking spray on the grill. Don't prod, poke or attempt to turn the food during the first minute of cooking. Once a crisp crust has formed it can be turned with ease.
  5. Don't overcrowd the grill. If it is too crowded it will steam, rather than sear.
  6. Don't wander off. Be safe, as you are dealing with fire, and accidents can happen. Also, from the food perspective, food cooks quickly over hot coals and you may return to charred, rather than grilled steak!
  7. Check for doneness. The best way to know if food is done is to use an instant thermometer and follow a food guide for the right temperature for the food you are cooking. Most thermometers include one, or you can see our guidelines below.
  8. Clean up. Brush the grill rack with a stiff wire brush while it is still hot, to loosen any charred remains.
The Tools
Always have on hand the following items to make grilling as safe and easy as possible.
  1. Long-handled tongs
  2. Long metal spatula
  3. Skewers (bamboo and metal)
  4. Natural bristle basting brush
  5. Instant-read thermometer
  6. Stiff wire brush for cleaning grill
  7. Heat resistant gloves/mitt
  8. Grill Baskets for fish and vegetables that might fall through the rack
  9. Chimney starter - this makes easy work of starting a charcoal fire
Guide to Grilling Times and Temperatures
  • Shrimp: 2-3 minutes per side
  • Scallops: 3-4 minutes per side
  • Salmon Fillet: 3-5 minutes per side
  • Mahi-Mahi: 5-6 minutes per side
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: 6-8 minutes per side, 165° F
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: 15-25 minutes, turning occasionally, 165° F
  • Bone-In Skinless Chicken Thighs: 15-25 minutes, turning occasionally, 165° F
  • Pork Chops, Bone-In, 3/4" thick: 3-4 minutes per side, 145° F
  • Pork Tenderloin: 14-16 minutes turning occasionally, 145° F
  • Flank Steak: 6-8 minutes per side, 140° F for medium
  • Strip Steak: 4-5 minutes per side, 140° F for medium
  • Lamb Loin Chops: 5-6 minutes per side, 145° F for medium

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