| Kitchen Encounters |

Grilled to Perfection

Grilling is an art! When your food is perfectly grilled, you’ll end up with that delicious smell and taste synonymous with summer.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will take your BBQ season to the next level.

  • Never put food on a cold grill. The way to achieve that perfect sear with grill marks is with a hot grill. Putting meat on a cold grill will produce gray, chewy, and most likely overcooked meat.
  • Always oil your grill before using. Most foods should be oiled too, aside from very fatty cuts of meat. Never spray cooking spray onto the grates when the flame is on, as this can cause a fire. Rather, use a basting brush dipped into oil.
  • Know the difference between direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is used for searing and foods that require shorter cooking times and can withstand higher temperatures, such as thin steaks, vegetables, and fish. Indirect heat is for whole roasts, whole chickens, and even chicken bottoms. If you have a larger grill, use one side for direct heat on a higher flame and the other side for indirect heat. For charcoal grills, push the coals to one side with tongs, and that becomes your direct heat area.
  • If you’re adding sauce to your food, only baste it during the last few minutes of cooking. Adding it earlier will result in crusty, burnt-tasting food.
  • Don’t cut into your meat and chicken to check for doneness. This will cause all the delicious juices to run out and leave you with a drier end product. A fully cooked piece of grilled chicken should be firm to the touch. With meat, it depends how rare or well done you like your steaks. (See sidebar.) I usually time my meats to ensure that they aren’t overcooked.
  • Always clean your grill grates between uses. The best time to do this is right after you’ve finished grilling. Turn the grill onto high, close the lid, and leave it to burn off as much of the residue as possible. Turn off the grill, and while it’s still warm, brush the grates with a good-quality grill brush. Cheaper brushes, especially those of the wire variety, can leave sharp pieces of steel on your grates that may end up in your food the next time you grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended, especially when cooking fattier meats such as ribs. As the meat cooks, the fat can drip into the grill, causing a fire.
Fit for the Grill

Think out of the meat section of your grocery store when it comes to grilling! Try the following ideas for some added fun.

  • Stone fruits.
  • It’s fun to grill random items that you have in the freezer. Try grilled kishka and grilled deli roll!
  • Turkey chips. Oil the grill well and add thinly sliced turkey. Grill it until it crisps up.
  • Grapes! Grill them until they almost burst but not quite, and serve them alongside meat.
  • I once made a grilled Caesar salad. I actually grilled the romaine!! I served it with a lemony dressing because I thought it went better with the grill taste.

Turkey Chips

You can make these with either smoked turkey roll or oven-baked turkey roll.

For the smoked turkey roll, slice the turkey into strips and spray well with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick. Grill until it has nice lines.

For the oven-baked turkey, slice into strips, then brush with a bit of barbecue sauce, or just use some oil and sprinkle with onion salt or chili lime spice. Grill as above.

Testing for Doneness

Is there any way to test your meat for doneness without a meat thermometer?

The answer is yes! It’s known as the “hand method.” With your hand open, touch the soft pad on your palm at the base of your thumb. This is how a rare steak should feel. Gently touch the tip of your index finger to your thumb. This is how a medium-rare steak should feel. Touch the middle finger to the thumb. This is how medium-well done feels. The ring finger to the thumb is well done.


(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 849)

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