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Grilling for Dummies

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Ever wonder why your burgers are black on the outside and raw in the middle? Or why does the chicken have that black soot like glaze? Are your hot dogs coming off the grill with bits and chunks of black charred crunchy stuff? Well my friend, this article will solve those simple grilling problems.

Simple techniques and basic cleaning procedures can help you create the most amazing grilled dishes to keep folks asking for more. Just as in life, the main idea here is to become inspired to be better. Trying harder only takes you so far, but also having the tools and the knowledge will eventually get you to your intended goal. In this case, that’s cooking better on the barbecue grill.

First Point: Start with a clean grill. Removing any previous bits and pieces of charred remains will keep them from getting onto the food you want to cook now. Those bits and pieces are not harmful, but they are definitely not that appetizing. They get into the gaps of your teeth, mess up your taste buds and create those unwanted flicking motions your guests have to do to just eat a freakin’ hot dog!

  • Go buy a good grill brush ($8).
  • Use the newly bought grill brush after every grilling session to ensure a clean grill the next time you cook.
  • After brushing, wipe the grill clean with a paper towel soaked with some olive oil.
  • If you got drunk and forget to clean the grill at the last bbq, turn the grill on high for a few minutes to burn off the old food bits and repeat the previous bullet points.

Second Point: Cooking with charcoal and lighter fluid will change the flavor of your food, and usually not for the better. Lighter fluid lingers even after it has supposedly burned off. It will also cause a plume of soot to float around your grill and coat the food with a ‘beautiful black slim glaze’. Just what you want on your dinner right? Nope.

  • Go buy yourself a Charcoal Chimney ($20) and use charcoal that has no lighter fluid added.
  • Once the coals are hot, poor them into your grill. Use some old tongs to build a fiery pyramid off to one side and now you have a hot side for quick cooking and an indirect heat side for slow cooking.
  • Add a few presoaked wood chips (optional), place a cleaned grate back onto grill and close the damn lid!
  • Now you can sear some meat and then put onto the indirect side to slow cook without the black soot sock you normally get on your food.

Third Point: Grilling is easy once you learn; the hotspots of your grill, how fast your meat will normally cook and when to add the sauces or cheese.

  • Setting up our grill the correct way will help eliminate most of the raw and burnt food you have been grilling. Try removing a metal ‘tent’ off of at least one of your burners on the propane grill. This is now your HOT SIDE. Leaving the ‘tents’ on the other burners gives you an area for slower cooking and resting. If your grill does not come equipped with these metal tents, just keep one side on high the other on low. Also, a top shelf or rack is a nice resting place for seared meat as well.
  • The Hot Side is used to sear the outside of the meat to keep the juices inside. Once a quick sear is complete on both sides, move the meat over to the Lower Temp areas. This is where you can regulate / cook the meat to your desired doneness. Thick rib-eyes will take longer to cook than say a thin sliced center cut pork chop. A thick chicken breast will take longer than a thin patty of burger. DUH!? Either way, sear the meat and move to the lower temp areas.
  • Sauces and cheese will burn on a grill…they just do!. These should be added near the end of cooking time periods and watched closely. Most barbecue sauces contain a sugar of sorts; honey, brown sugar, molasses…etc. These will burn over an open flame if not attended to religiously. The idea is to get the sauce on a cooked piece of meat and heated through. As far as cheese goes, top the burgers with cheese, move to Low Temp side, close the lid and pay attention.

Just follow these three simple lessons: clean your grill, stop using lighter fluid and pay attention to the thickness of the meat and sauces while grilling. This concludes Grilling for Dummies, now shut down the computer and go get inspired to grill something dammit!

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib.

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