The grill has a reputation for being the noncook's appliance: the tool for the burger-flipping weekend warrior. The truth is that grilling takes a more skilled hand than you'd think . . . although you certainly don't need a culinary degree to wield a set of barbecue tongs. Whether you prefer charcoal or gas, follow our simple tips to get the best out of your grate.
- Preheat your grill properly. For best results, use a grill thermometer to make sure that the temperature is correct for the type of food you are cooking.
- Use indirect heat for larger, thicker cuts of meat like ribs and roasts: place the meat on the grate away from the heat source (usually at a low temperature) and cover the grill. The food will cook from all sides, not unlike an oven, but with that great, grilled flavor.
- Use direct heat for smaller, thinner cuts of meat like chicken parts, steaks, and burgers. The temperature should be medium to hot, and cooking time should be under 30 minutes. For best results, turn the food only once, about halfway through the cook time.
- Grilling is the perfect way to bring out the flavor in vegetables. Large or long vegetables (like portobello mushrooms and asparagus) can lie across the grate to keep from falling through. For smaller veggies or cut portions, try a grill wok to evenly cook each morsel without losing it to the coals below.
- For an additional flavor punch — especially when cooking over low, indirect heat — consider smoking. An hour before you begin to cook, soak some fragrant wood chips (like hickory, mesquite, or apple wood) in water. Once the grill is preheated, drain the chips and wrap them up in foil. Poke several small holes around the packet, place it directly on the heat source, and be sure to close the grill while you're cooking to infuse the food with that delicious smoky flavor!
- Don't turn your food too often while it's on the grill. Flipping meat too frequently will cause it to lose juices and become tough and dry.
Source: Flickr User woodleywonderworks