How to make your grilling experience more enjoyable
Outdoor grills provide options for putting delicious meals together. Whether you're using a gas or charcoal, there's much more to cooking than just putting on an apron and slapping meat or poultry down. Learning the basics can make the experience more pleasant for you and your guests.
Make sure your Weber grill is in good working order
At the start of the season, and on occasion during the summer, inspect your grill to make sure it's in good working shape. For charcoal, you'll want to clean out the ashes from the previous use. Propane models should be checked to make sure the propane tank is full and properly connected.
Make sure your grill is fully preheated to keep food from sticking. There are cooking sprays that are made just for this occassion, and you can also coat the grates with oil. Searing the meat will keep juices from escaping. You'll want to monitor it closely while cooking to make sure flare-ups don't occur and scorch your meat or poultry.
It's a good idea to keep baking soda handy for any fires. Also, keep all your cooking utensils and any spices that you're using within easy reach. You could find out upon returning from a trip back to the kitchen that your food was burned beyond recognition or headed that way.
Marinating your meat and poultry adds more flavor. Some cuts of beef - round steak, for example - are tougher than others, but marinating can make those cuts more tender. Shoulder steaks also are good candidates for a husky marinade. There are marinade mixes with different flavors, or you can simply pour Italian dressing over your steak.
Proper temperature of the meat is essential
Meat and poultry that is cooked needs to be checked for proper temperature levels before being served. Many weekend chefs cut into steak or chicken to check for doneness, but that's just guesswork. Using a digital thermometer will give you an exact reading. Here are typical temperature readings for steak:
- Rare: 140 degrees
- Medium rare: 150 degrees
- Medium: 160 degrees
- Medium well: 165 degrees
Cutting into meat or chicken is a bad idea. If it's too rare, you'll likely lose a lot of the juices. Well-done steaks are nearly void of juice and are tough to cut. To add even more flavor to a steak, rub on a little unsalted butter, maybe even flavored butter.
A sharp steak knife is most important. You don't want your guests to think the meat you selected is tough as leather, do you? That's what it will appear if your knives are dull. You'll be one sharp-looking chef when you arm your guests with sharp knives.
Whether you're cooking plain old hot dogs or expensive cuts of steak, doing a little research in advance will help you get the most out of the barbecuing experience. Step in front of the outdoor grill prepared and your guests will hail you as a master outdoor chef.