Summer is finally here and you can’t wait to have a couple of your best buddies over for a Sunday barbecue, but there are a few things you can do to take your grilling to a whole new level this season.
Here is everything you need to know about grilling every kind of meat.
Gas versus charcoal
Charcoal versus gas is one of the manly debates that seems like it will never end. Gas is certainly the more modern way to go—it’s faster and easier to control the grilling process.
But there’s something about charcoal that keeps it from becoming obsolete. It creates a smoky flavour and crispy outside to meat that you just can’t seem to get with gas. For the grilling purists out there, this is definitely the way to go.
The two-zone fire
Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, the key to grilling is creating a hot zone and a cooler zone on the grill. This will allow you to char the meat you’re cooking on the hot zone and cook the inside of it in the cool zone without burning the outside.
With a gas barbecue, this is easily achieved simply by turning a couple of knobs. With charcoal, it’s more complicated, but you can great results in a few simple steps:
- Light the fire. Basic grocery store type charcoal will do, but if you can, try to get your hands on some hardwood lump charcoal, as it will burn a lot better.
- Once you’ve lit the fire, use a pair of tongs to distribute the coals so as to create a hot zone and a cool zone. The way to do this is to stack the coals in a pile to one side about three inches below the grill and have the rest of them sloping away. The top of this mound of coals will be the hot zone. The lowest point will be the cool zone.
- Despite having created the structure of a two-zone fire, ultimately, coal fires can be unpredictable. So, be prepared to move whatever you’re cooking around as the fire changes. If in doubt carefully pass your hand about a foot about the grill to feel where the hot and cool zones are.
Tools you’ll need
Obviously, you’re going to need a barbecue of some sort—either gas or charcoal. These come in countless shapes, sizes and prices. It’s really up to you. At the Man Guide, we’re always about quality. And when it comes to barbecues, you generally get what you pay for—if not in performance, then in longevity.
Other than that, there are two essential tools for grilling: a good set of spring-loaded tongs and a dogleg spatula. The tongs will help you all your grabbing and flipping needs. The spatula will come in handy with more delicate items such as fish. Both tools should have some length to them so you hands don’t have to be anywhere near the heat source. You’re literally playing with fire here.
Grilling red meat
The key to getting good results when grilling red meat is, first of all, investing in good cuts. For a Prime-grade strip loin, porterhouse, or rib eye, some salt and fresh-ground pepper is all you need. Then just follow these steps:
- If you’re using charcoal, use lots of briquettes—the hotter the fire the better. Put the meat over the hot zone until you’ve the outside nice and crispy.
- Move the meat to the cool zone to cook the inside. The amount of time you leave it here will depend on how rare you like your meat.
- Let the meat sit for at least five minutes before serving. This will ensure the meat has re-absorbed all of its juices and will taste its best.
When grilling burgers, you’ll want your patties to by thick but not bulbous. Pack them as loosely as you can without them falling apart. You should keep moving the patty from the hot zone to the cool one as it cooks. Also, don’t press down on the burger as it cooks. You’ll be losing all the juices!
For ribs, you’ll want to coat the ribs in dry rub, seal them overnight, and cook for about three hours before getting them on the grill. This will ensure that you get tender, fall-off-the-bone results.
With chicken, there should be no question about how much to cook it. Undercooked chicken is gross at best and dangerous at worst.
For the best results, start by cooking the chicken skin side down on medium heat for about five to eight minutes. Once crispy, flip the chicken over on move it to the cool side of the grill to make sure the inside is cooked. This is when you can start applying your barbecue sauce too.
Grilling can be a fast and easy way to add fish to your diet this summer. Just make sure you get fish with the skin still on it. Start by cooking the fish over medium heat, skin side down. Wait until the fish is cooked two thirds of the way through before flipping (with pink fish, the cooked parts will get paler, with white fish, the cook parts will go opaque).
Vegetables are relatively easy to grill. Just make sure you coat them in olive oil so they don’t dry out and you’re in business. Use high heat—cooking veggies slowly will make them really mushy. For vegetables that tend to lose their shape very quickly such as peppers, you can use a skewer. Otherwise, it should be pretty obvious when your vegetables are done.
Grilling is ultimately about getting together in the engaging with the outdoors. No matter what you’re cooking, grab a few beers, make sure you share your tips and tricks on grilling with your buddies and have a good time.