Quick Recipes and Easy

Ten Tips For Perfect Grilled Dinners

Grilling Basics

There is nothing better than excellent BBQ, whether it is slow cooked pork, crispy succulent chicken or a perfect juicy steak. Cooking outside over fire is the oldest method known to man, but you can’t just belly up to the BBQ and start flipping without some know how.

Here are the basics:

The Fire

1 – Method
There are two main methods for grilling; direct and indirect. Direct is when the fire is directly under the food to be cooked, indirect is when the fire is to the side(s) of the food. Direct heat; reckon grilling or searing, indirect heat; reckon roasting like an oven or smoking. Some recipes call for both; first searing the meat over direct heat, them moving the meat to indirect heat to cook through. And a small smoke makes both direct and indirectly cooked foods taste incredible.

2 – Fuel
Propane grills are wonderfully convenient, charcoal is convenient and tasty, but it takes awhile to be ready to cook. Wood is even tastier, but takes longer to get going and requires adding more fuel for longer cook times.

How much charcoal do you need? Enough to make a single layer barely touching that extends two inches beyond the food you’re cooking.

3 – Heat
What your dad told you about campfires holds right for BBQs too; a fire is comprised of heat, fuel and air. Those small vent holes in the top and bottom are used to control the flow of air through the fire and can make it much hotter. The fastest way to make a fire hotter is too add air flow. Of course too much air flow will blow the fire out.

How do you measure the heat? Well some grills have a thermometer built in, or you can place a stick type thermometer through the vent. This measures the air temperature inside like the oven temperature for indirect roasting, but not the temperature of the grill. One method to measure grill temperature is to hold you hand directly about eight inches above the coals and measure how long you can hold it there. This is not very scientific and can lead to injury, so be careful.

The best gauge of heat is experience. You have to grill awhile before you get excellent at it, but hey, you were going to eat dinner anyway, might as well use the experience to become the grill master. It will certainly make your parties well loved.

4 – Smokin’
Soak woodchips in water for half an hour and place either directly on the coals or wrap in foil, poke holes and set on a propane burner. Use mesquite or hickory for hearty flavors; apple wood or cherry for more delicate food. Salmon cooked on an alder plank is a Northwest delicacy.

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5 – Size
The size on the food is vital for deciding which method to use; direct or indirect and how much charcoal you need to have the fire extend beyond the edge of the food. For roasts and briskets, slow cook over indirect heat and smoke. For thinner, more tender cuts, sear rare over direct heat and go over indirect heat to end. Tender meat cut in cubes for kebabs can be the best of all, because the increased surface area makes for more caramelization; just be sure not to overcook.

6 – Temperature
It is better to let meat sit at room temperature for ten to twenty minutes before cooking so the meat is not so cold at the center.

7 – Marinades
Marinade add flavor and can tenderize a tough cut of meat. The more acidic the marinade, the more it will tenderize, but marinating too long can change the texture of the meat. For thick or tough cuts of meat, or marinades that are not too acidic, marinate the night before. For more delicate meat or acidic marinades the morning of is excellent, but even an hour can add flavor.

8 – Seasoning
Seasoning is key. I like a steak that has been rubbed with a excellent spice mixture like Lawry’s or McCormick and Schmidt’s Montreal rub. You can make your own; it is cheaper and can be used for nearly everything. The most vital part of the seasoning is the salt. For the purist just some kosher or sea salt is perfection.

9 – Oiling
A small oil can make the spices stick and will transmit the heat better to parts of the meat not in direct contact with the grill. It does add stout though so I skip the oil and find the seasoning sticks well enough. I have better uses for my stout calories.

10 – Cook Times

Indirect Heat
For indirect heat, the best method is to use an instant read thermometer to determine doneness. Use the following chart as a guideline, but remember that eating undercooked meat can cause food borne illness.

Red meat Chefs USDA
Rare120 – 125 n/a
Medium rare 125 – 135 145
Medium135 – 145 160
Medium Well 145 – 155 n/a
Well Done 155 170

Cook chicken over medium temperature direct heat until it releases from the grill before turning it. Keep the lid closed as much as possible and cook a chicken breast about 8 – 12 minutes, or a whole chicken over indirect heat 1 to 1 ½ hours over medium heat.

Direct Heat
With direct heat, a thermometer and experience are fantastic guides. I find I like my 1 inch steak seared 3 to 4 minutes on each side at really high temperature for medium rare, and grilling a 5 to 6 ounce meat patty about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Pleased Grilling!

For more information including quick and simple dinner recipes, visit dinnersinaflash.com dinnersinaflash.com

Julie Languille

Mom, step-mom, foster mom and adoptive mom and owner of Dinners In A Flash
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