Grill the Griller

Heather says:

It has come to my attention that some of you are not yet comfortable with using a grill. With temperatures soaring, the grill can be one of your best friends when trying to cook dinner without heating up the house.  This summer I would like to help you become more comfortable using the grill. So, please share your questions in the comments. I’ll answer them both here and in future posts. I promise no question is too basic, I’ve been grilling for a while so I’ve lost perspective on what you need to know.

Examples:

Q: How soon should I react to a flare-up?

A:  Immediately. Flare ups are caused by dripping fat, this fat catches fire and creates a localized hot spot that will quickly char the outside of your food. As with all other forms of cooking, charring*  much like e. coli is undesirable in food (too soon?)

*Charring is not to be confused with the browning that is a result of the Maillard reaction

Q: How do I keep thin steaks from drying out on the grill?

A: Quit playing with them. Seriously, all the poking, prodding, and excessive turning don’t do your steak any favors. When cooking steaks over direct heat, I try to move the steak as little as possible unless it’s to get away from a flare-up. Put the steak on the grill, give it a quarter turn (not flipping, just turn the steak 90°), flip, quarter turn, remove to a plate to rest for a few minutes before serving. The exact time between your turns is going to depend on the recommended cooking time for that recipe. Some people turn even less, but I have some pride involved in pretty grill marks.

What do you want to know about grilling?

What are your best grilling tips?



19 Comments

  1. @simonashton on June 9, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I love grilled shrimp, but I'm so scared of undercooking them that I always overcook them – how do I strike the right balance?

  2. Sandee Hill on June 8, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Heather- some friends and I have been having a discussion on my FB page about using the grill to cook a meatloaf. What do you think? Full loaf? Mini-loaves? Foiled-wrapped of in a dutch oven? Elevated on bricks? 🙂 I'm going to try something tomorrow, but I figured I'd see what your take was! 🙂

    • HeatherSolos on June 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

      I like the brick idea, if there is a way to catch the fat, I see a high probability of flare ups. I would cook it over indirect heat, with the lid closed. I think the dutch oven might be overkill, and there'd be no way for the fat to drain away and if there's one thing I don't enjoy, it's a greasy meatloaf.

  3. Sus on June 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Love this post and my question is everything! I confess that I let my hubby do all the grilling though I LOVE it and that means I can only do it on the weekend. It's also already in the 100s here so outdoor cooking is so much better on my ac bill! Can't wait to see all the related posts coming!
    My recent post Cheese- Glorious Cheese!

    • HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Sus, I'm the griller in this house. It does take some practice, but it's a skill worth mastering, if only to free yourself from the hot kitchen. (Yes, it's hot outside, but at least you won't be taxing your AC as much)

  4. Lorraine on June 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I"d really like some ideas of how and what to cook in foil packets. Can you do a complete individual meal in one packet? I think it would be a real time and mess saver for me

    • HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Oh that's a great idea. Sounds like it's time to do a series of foil packets. Here's hoping the minions don't hate them. I have some bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms that need to be used and I think that would go well with chicken and Italian dressing… Must go marinate.

  5. HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 10:40 am

    What temperature are you trying to cook it to?
    First, you want the meat to come to room temperature (remember you don't want it in the bacterial danger zone for too long, but you don't want to plop it straight onto the grill from the fridge).
    If you're direct cooking over a hot grill for a medium rare london broil that's 2" or LESS thick, you probably want to do 7 – 9 min per side. Grilling and broiling are very similar, the heat is just coming from the opposite side. Don't forget to close the lid of the grill, but stay close to watch for flare ups. Once you pull it off the grill cover it and let it sit for 10 minutes and then slice thinly across the grain.

    • dcrmom on June 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I use to start it on high and then reduce heat after it seared. But with grassfed, I was warned not to sear it and i tried doing it on medium. It seems like it never gets done in the middle in 20-25 minutes so we end up waiting and waiting for it. These are usually small steaks – 2 pounds max.

      • HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 10:44 am

        How thick are your steaks? With grilling it's not about weight it's about surface area.

        • dcrmom on June 6, 2011 at 10:48 am

          Hmmm… they vary of course, I guess like 1.5 – 2 inches?? I don't have one in the freezer at the moment, or I'd measure it, lol.

          • HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 10:52 am

            It's been a long time since I've done a London broil on the grill, but everything for grass fed is saying 7 – 9 minutes per side for a 2" or less thick cut. Are you double checking the temp of your grill with the hand test?

            • dcrmom on June 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

              Nope. We just go by the thermostat. Dumb, huh? I'll try that next time. Maybe it just doesn't heat very high.

  6. Eugene Mah on June 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

    One thing to figure out with every grill, particularly with gas grills, is where the hot and cold (less hot) spots are. On my grill the hot spots tend to be in between the burners while the cold spots are in the corners and the front of the grill. Once you have a feel for the hot and cold spots, you can use it to plan how you lay the food out on the grill.
    My recent post Tomato flowers

    • HeatherSolos on June 6, 2011 at 10:46 am

      And on my propane grill the hotspot is the back which is very aggravating. We're talking about building a permanent grill set up in the backyard. I'm very excited.

  7. @chep2m on June 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

    My best grilling tip: get my sons to do it. They love it and it always turns out better than when I do it! Took a few years to wait for that "secret recipe" but it was worth it.

    On London Broil: I'd say sear one side, keep the heat high for just a few moments. Then flip it and close the barbeque. Cook for the time you think is needed – then stop and let the meat sit for 15 minutes. I hear that it keeps cooking for 20 minutes after the heat is removed. So I guess that the message is start earlier, high heat, and remove from heat so that it can continue cooking through without getting charred.

    For chicken, I always use foil or a cooking tray on the bbq. Keeps it moister, helps the marinade seep in, makes it all much cleaner….

  8. Lori Randall Stradtman on June 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Awesome post idea!! I'm a grill-a-holic, even sprang for one of those fancy Big Green Egg grills this Christmas! My question relates to the filth the grilling surface itself gets… Any tips on how to maintain it without making it into a project?

    Thanks!!
    My recent post Giving Away “The Thank You Economy”

    • @chep2m on June 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

      I TOTALLY want an Egg. It's top of my wish list. I want it before Thanksgiving, though, so that I can do my turkey in it. And I hear that it's awesome as a smoker,

      My sons scrape down the crud on the grilling surface of my current grill. So far, that's the only clean-up magic I've found….

    • Eugene Mah on June 6, 2011 at 10:43 am

      Once I pull all the food off the grill, I give the grate a good brushing with one of those wire brushes to scrape off all the burnt on stuff. With my gas grill I'll turn the burners on high and let it sit empty for 5-10 minutes or so to burn off any grease left on the grill. Then the grates get a few scrapes with one of those pumice stone blocks to remove the stubborn parts. Wipe off the grates afterwards to remove any leftovers from the pumice stone and it's good to go until my next grill session
      My recent post Tomato flowers

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