Top 10 grilling tips
1. Preheat your BBQ
A good way to be consistent with everything you cook is to create habits and control everything you have power over. Preheating your BBQ may sound basic and boring but it plays a very big role in your track record. You should always start your BBQ and let it stabilize to your desired temperature for at least 10 minutes before throwing anything on it. This will ensure that you will not lose all the temperature once you open it and therefore creates an easy-to-replicate environment for every other barbecue session. If you’re satisfied with the end results, you’ll know how to repeat the process as precisely as you did before.
2. Bring your meat to room temperature
Following the same logic, your meat’s internal temperature is another thing you have control over. Removing your meat from the fridge 30 to 60 minutes before cooking it is one of the best practices as it allows your meat to soften up, it reactivates your dry rub and prepares your meat to be cooked. You should never throw cold meat on a BBQ. Getting your meat to room temperature will optimize the amount of moisture you will manage to keep throughout the cooking process as it puts less stress on your piece of meat since you will not have to cook for as long as you would with a colder starting temperature.
3. Clean grates
I know a lot of “alphas” out there don’t bother cleaning grates, thinking that the high heat will act as a self-cleaning process. Don’t be one of them. Starting off with clean grates will make for a much better sear and will also prevent any residue to tamper with the taste you are going for. Cleaning grates takes only a few seconds if you have the right tool for it. The Grill Daddy Pro Safety steam brush allows you to brush and steam clean at the same time. You can get your grates clean in no time. You should brush immediately once you are done, and give an extra scrub the next time you start your BBQ before adding meat on.
4. If you’re looking, you’re not cooking
Through time, you’ll get more confident with how your meat is cooking in your BBQ. That said, it’s important to pay attention and develop a 6th sense to prevent you from opening the lid every 5 minutes. A lot of folks are still “paying too much attention” and it’s killing their BBQ game. If you’re cooking chicken, as an example, we all know it’s not going to be ready in 10 minutes. There’s just no reason to open the BBQ “just to make sure”. If you’re looking, you’re not cooking. Not only that, you’re actually making things worse as you are wasting moisture and creating temperature swings every time you open your BBQ. Working with probes is a good way to know how your meat is cooking without ever needing a visual check.
5. Know your basic grilling methods
To further my point on that chicken… How do we know it’s not ready in 10 minutes and be confident it’s not burning? Easy, because we are cooking with indirect heat. Mastering the direct/indirect zones and when you use them is key for any pit master. A good sear should be done lid open over direct heat as we want to develop texture, and not so much cook the meat. Once seared, you switch to indirect with the lid down to get it up to temperature with maximum moisture. A chicken breast can be cooked all the way through over indirect heat in about 16 to 18 minutes. If you plan on using sweet sauces like our Champion sauce that’s designed for chicken, indirect grilling will prevent you from burning the sugars and make sure you get the full range of flavors that you’re looking for.
6. Don’t poke the bear, nor your meat
Working with the proper tool set makes a difference in the way you cook and the results you can obtain. The best cut can easily be ruined if you’re not working with the proper tools. Investing in good BBQ spatulas, tongs, brushes and such will help you move your meat around without poking through and wasting any juices. Avoid using forks, knives or anything that could break the muscle fibres whenever you need to flip your meat.
7. Don’t panic.
Control your flare-ups. Do not fight them. A lot of people will start panicking whenever they see flames bursting from their BBQ. There’s nothing wrong with a little flame tickle so long as it’s controlled. You can control flare-ups by having a neutral zone in your BBQ (indirect) in the event that some fatty meat drips over your deflectors and catches on fire. A flare up is a single burst of flame that puts itself out after just a few seconds. Flare-ups can help build crust and flavor. Leave these flare-ups unsupervised, and they can quickly go from cute bursts to patio bonfires. Spoiler alert: you don’t want that.
8. Sear for texture.
Searing does not lock in juices. I know it sounds cool to say and it’s easy to buy in, it just does not. It actually was proven scientifically that searing results in great net loss of moisture. Now that that is out of the way, searing is still very important for a lot of different cuts. Searing at a very high temperature will start the browning process. This is called the maillard reaction. It develops texture and helps your rubs and sugars caramelize on your meat. A good crust on a steak can turn a cheap steak into something you look forward to all day.
9. Cook to temp
There’s a lot that goes into cooking something to perfection. As much as you can document every step you need to take to obtain something that’s worth craving for, there are things you can’t control. This means every barbecue session is different. As important the process, what matters most is the final internal temperature. You can tell yourself that something’s going to be ready in 4 hours but the harsh reality is, it may not be. The only way to know when something is ready to be pulled out is by checking the internal temperature. Working with a quality instant-read thermometer should not even be up for debate.
10. Nurture your creativity
Last but not least, nurture your creativity. This final tip is a bit more philosophical but it means a lot to me because there is a distinctive pattern that I often see. Most people will get crazy in the first few weeks once they acquire a BBQ and try different things. Then, after a while, once they think they’ve figured things out, they slowly fall back on the same techniques and recipes, over and over again. With so many things and flavors to try, I want you to hold yourself accountable for your investment and never stop trying new things. It’s okay to have your safe bets and go-tos, but now and then you should step out of your comfort zone. Be it with a new cut of meat, a new accessory, a new cooking technique, whatever it may be, you owe it to yourself to own your craft and live while you can. Life is food, and everything tastes better on the grill!