Memorial Day BBQ Tips
We're seeing all the signs of summer: birds chirping, blooming flowers, and the kids are losing interest in toys in favor of playing outside a little longer. Summer is definitely on its way, and the last indicator that we're in the clear for our favorite season is Memorial Day. We have to start summer off right, and that usually means a spectacular cookout is in order. To make it great, you have to do it right starting with the food. Here are 8 grilling tips for your Memorial Day barbecue.
Scrub It Down
Make sure the grate on your grill is clean. Food leaves behind residues that burn and stick to the metal, which can give your next meal flavors you don't want to taste. To avoid this, use a grill brush to scrub off the grate when it's hot (before or after cooking). You have to apply a lot of pressure to get it clean. It will tear up your grill brush, but it's made for rough treatment. When your brush starts to wear down, it can leave behind metal bristles. Replace your grill brush periodically so those bristles don't end up in your food.
It's counterintuitive to use grease next to a flame, but grills require a little bit of oil to keep your food from sticking to your grate. Cooking sprays seem like a convenient solution, but next to a hot grill, they can turn into flamethrowers. Instead, when your grill is clean and hot, dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and use tongs to wipe down the grate with the towel. This will help keep your food from sticking to the grill and making a mess.
The Heat Is On
Make sure your grill is hot. It needs at least 15 minutes to heat up before you can put any food on it. How to bring your grill up to the right temperature varies from grill to grill, but for the equivalent of the range in your kitchen, a high temperature is 650║F, medium is 450║F and low is 300║F.
The best way to make sure that your meat is cooked exactly the way you like it is by using an instant read thermometer. However, if you are confident, there are ways around it. If you're grilling steak, you can tell how cooked the meat is by touching it (with a utensil) and comparing it to the pad on your hand. The City Cook has an excellent guide on how to do this. For boneless chicken, it's best to cut into to it to make sure it's cooked all the way through. For bone-in chicken legs and thighs, pull the bones apart to expose the joint, if it's brown and not bloody, it's done.
Marinades are great for adding flavor, as well as reducing harmful particles produced by cooking meat. If you're new to marinating food, don't experiment too much. Because most marinades contain an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), they actually cook the meat. Marinating meat for too long can lead to overcooking it. Make sure to read the directions for your marinade and the type of meat you plan on cooking. Seafood requires no longer than 30 minutes in a marinade, chicken needs about two hours, and pork and beef can be marinated as long as overnight.
Ribs with the right rub can make a memorable meal, but you want to make sure it's being remembered for the right reasons. Be gentle with your rubs. If you're too aggressive, you could damage the texture of your meat or over-season it. Don't use more than 2 tablespoons for every pound of meat you're cooking; sprinkle it on your meat (under the skin if you're grilling chicken) and gently pat it before setting it aside for a few minutes before grilling.
It's tempting to season your burgers long before it's time to put them on the grill, but be patient. Salt makes raw hamburger meat shrink up. If you salt it too early, it may become tough to chew. The best time to salt your burger is when it's on the grill.
There are a few ways to grill vegetables without losing them in the fire. A favorite way is to skewer them to make kebabs. The only problem you might encounter is that wooden skewers can catch on fire. An easy remedy is to soak them in water for a half hour before skewering your veggies.
For vegetables that you don't want to skewer but could fall through the grate of the grill, use a grill basket. A grill basket will open up of a whole new world of culinary inspiration. Everything you didn't think you could grill will suddenly find a home in your outdoor kitchen. For vegetables big enough for the grate, like asparagus, squash, eggplant, drizzle a little bit of olive oil on them so they don't stick to the grill.