10 Summer Grilling Tips
Here are 10 grilling tips from Chef Scott Jenkins, the executive chef at Arlington-based Extra Virgin restaurant, that every cook should know in order to have a great barbecue experience:
Completely thaw food before cooking: If it’s not thawed completely, the food will not cook evenly. Ideally, leave the food in the refrigerator until it has completely thawed.
Keep it cool: Thoroughly cooking through are essential to healthy barbecue eating. Before cooking, the food should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meat should then be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground meats to 160 degrees, and poultry to 165 degrees. Using a food thermometer is essential.
Marinate in the refrigerator: Foods that will be barbecued should always be marinated in the refrigerator, rather than on the counter. And when reusing the marinade, it needs to be brought to a boil first, in order to kill bacteria.
Center it: The healthiest way to barbecue your food, according to the USDA, is to place it in the center of the grill, and put the coals off to the side. This will keep the juices from the food from dripping onto the coals. Also, any charred portions of meat should be removed and discarded.
Don’t let food sit out: During the summer it is easy to cook and leave food sitting around outside, but it can be dangerous to do so. A good rule of thumb is not to let the food sit out longer than one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make a wide cut: Cut the vegetables to allow for maximum surface area on the grill; this allows for easy turning and flipping with minimal slip through the grill grate. You can cut the vegetable down to a smaller size if needed when removed from grill.
Light on the oil: Use the smallest amount of oil when tossing vegetables with oil spices before grilling. The oil coating the vegetables is what causes flash fire and leaves a black soot residue on your grilled vegetables.
Leave it be: Avoid oil and use a light marinade after the grilling; once grilled toss with your oil spice blend and hold until ready to serve.
Divide and conquer: Try and arrange/divide the heat, whether it’s gas or charcoal, into two separate sections of the grill providing both a direct (over heat) and indirect heat source (nothing under but just the warm heat under the grill cover.) This allows you to move your food to a cooking section and resting section.
A rest is key: Providing a rest is a secret key that is mostly overlooked. Allow for 5-8 minutes before cutting into any meats or vegetable when they come off the grill. Allow time for the natural juices to redistribute to the interior of the grilled item. When cooking those natural juices travel to the outside of the grilling item, you need to give those same juices time to return and rehydrate before cutting into the vegetables or meats.
Bonus Tip: It’s important to be patient and not overturn or move food. Once you place it on the grill, you should just let the grill do its magic, only turning vegetables and meat just once, twice at the most. Also, never press down on the food, which will squeeze the flavor out of it.