This Summer, Grill Smart

Grilling 101

Grilling pros and cookbook authors Jamie Purviance and Elizabeth Karmel know a thing or two about great grilling. Below are 10 top grilling tips for excellent results every time.

  • Prep Smart: To avoid soaking bamboo skewers each time you need them, soak a big batch once for an hour or so, drain, then freeze them in a plastic bag. When it’s time to grill, pull out as many skewers as you need.
  • Makeshift Grill Brush: No grill brush? “Crumple a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil until it’s the size of a navel orange and pick it up between locking chef tongs. The tongs will act as the handle. Holding onto the ball of foil, brush away.”
  • Picture Perfect Burgers: Burgers can puff up in the middle as they cook, making the tops rounded and awkward for piling on the toppings. To avoid this, press a little indentation into the top of each raw patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Then, when the center pushes up, the top of each burger will be relatively level.
  • Surefire Skewers: Kabob ingredients, such as chicken pieces, will stay juicier longer if they are touching one another (but not crammed) on the skewers
  • Great Grilled Veggies: Lightly coat veggies in olive oil before grilling to help prevent sticking and drying out. “Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, sliced squash, and onion slices are best grilled by direct method.”
  • Season Gently: Be delicate when applying rubs. If you rub seasonings hard into the food, you can damage the meat fibers and texture of the food and run the risk of over-seasoning it.”
  • Go Low and Slow with the Ribs: For tender ribs, maintain a low temperature for several hours. “Spikes and valleys of heat will tighten and dry out the meat, but consistently low temps will produce soft and succulent meat.”
  • Know When to Sauce: “Be careful not to sauce ribs too early, especially if you are using a sweet sauce, as the sugars will burn and threaten your ribs. Sauce them during the final 30 minutes of cooking.”
  • Don’t Over Marinade: “When marinating, they recommend a relatively short soak for most foods — 30 minutes to two hours. Much more than an hour or two in the marinade can over-soften food and result in a mushy texture, especially if the marinades contain enzymes from ingredients like pineapple and papaya, or give the food a tough texture if the marinade has a lot of acid-rich citrus juice and/or vinegar. My rule of thumb is the smaller and more delicate the food, the shorter the soak”
  • Know When It’s Ready: “To check the doneness of a bone-in chicken thigh, pull one of the thickest ones from the grill and cut into the underside. If the color of the meat near the bone is still pink, put it back on the grill until it is fully cooked.”