Grilling Tips and Tricks

Grilling is an art, no doubt of that, and getting the food right is a matter of practice and technique. So, if you are having trouble getting your grilled foods to turn out just right, follow these grilling tips and tricks to ensure the best flavor for your grilled foods:

grilled food
Hilde Vanstraelen
If you follow a few simple tips and tricks, you can transform your grilled food into works of art.

1. Charcoal readily absorbs and holds moisture, so store it in a dry place.

2. To make cooking go faster, partially cook food in the microwave or on the range, and then immediately finish cooking the food on the grill. You'll get that barbecue flavor in less time.

3. Soak wooden skewers and toothpicks in water for at least 20 minutes before using them on a hot grill. The absorbed water will prevent the wood from burning.

4. The easiest way to clean a soiled grill is to scrub it with a stiff, wire brush while it's still warm.

5. While cooking, keep the fop and bottom grill vents open. Close them when cooking is finished to extinguish the coals.

6. Use tongs or a spatula to turn meat. Piercing it with a fork causes precious juices to escape.

How Hot Is It?
Your recipe says to heat the charcoal grill to 375°F. Like most cooks, you probably guess and then hope for the best. But there is a pretty reliable way to gauge the temperature of the coals without resorting to ripping the thermometer off the deck railing.

A quick and easy way to estimate the temperature of the coals is to hold the palm of your hand about four inches above the coals. Count the seconds you can hold your hand there before the heat forces you to pull it away. Then use the handy chart below to determine the temperature.­

­ ­
SecondsCoal Temperature
2 375°F or more
3 350° to 375°
4 300° to 350°
5 200° to 300°

MEAT, POULTRY, AND FISH GRILLING CHART
Use the following as a guide to approximate cooking times. You can also determine how well cooked your meat is with a good meat thermometer. Medium-rare beef will register 150°F on a meat thermometer; poultry, 180°; pork, 160°; lamb, 160°.

MeatThickness/WeightApprox Cooking Time (over med heat)
Chicken Boneless skinless breasts5 minutes per side
Chicken
Cut-up broiler/fryer
45 to 60 minutes
Fish fillets6 ounces3 to 5 minutes per side
Fish steaks1 inch5 minutes per side
Hamburgers 1/2 inch14 to 16 minutes
Pork baby back ribs 31/2 to 4 pounds30 to 45 minutes
Pork loin chops 3/4 inch10 to 12 minutes
Porterhouse/T-bone steak 3/4 inch14 to 17 minutes
Ribeye steak
3/4 inch6 to 8 minutes
Sausages
10 minutes
Shrimp Medium
2 to 3 minutes per side
Sirloin steak3/4 inch13 to 16 minutes

VEGETABLE GRILLING CHART
Brush vegetables lightly with vegetable oil and/or an oil-based salad dressing or marinade of your choice; season with sprinklings of chopped fresh or dried herbs, salt or pepper. Place large cuts directly on grill; grill smaller cuts in a grid basket.

VegetablePreparation for Grilling Grilling Time
Bell or chili peppersWhole or halved, stemmed and seeded 10 to 20 minutes
Corn on the cobUnhusked; remove silk; Soak in cold water 30 minutes
20 to 30 minutes
Eggplant Cut into 1-inch thick rounds 20 minutes
Mushrooms Stems removed 10 minutes
Onions Peel; cut into halves, wedges, or rounds; insert wooden picks to prevent separating. 20 to 30 minutes
Potatoes Cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
10 to 12 minutes
Summer squashCut into halves or thick slices 5 to 10 minutes
Tomatoes Cut into halves or thick slices 5 to 10 minutes

­

Find out more about barbeque and grilling tips in the next section.

To learn more about grilling, check out these additional articles: