Grilling forms part of many summer social activities - it's fun and produces delicious food. From an evolutionary perspective, people have been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years
Grilling is a fantastic way to enhance the flavor of your meats and vegetables whilst enjoying the great outdoors and taking advantage of the warmer weather (although you can definitely grill any time of the year). Whether you are Paleo, Vegan, AIP, Keto or simply choose to eat real food, making delicious food on the grill can be simple when you know the right techniques and tips.
For more on eating real food, read on here
Simmer Grilling Guide
Cooking well over fire takes some skill, but mastering those techniques will give you a special seat of honour from those you are cooking for. To help you achieve perfectly grilled results every time, here's a comprehensive guide on how to grill for beginners:
Choose Your Grill
It may sound basic but there are two crucial things your burner needs if you want to barbecue great food. The first thing is, charcoal is best. There is nothing wrong with a gas barbecue, but it will fail to produce any extra smoky flavour. From a flavor perspective, you might as well be cooking in the oven but a gas grill is convenient and easy to use, with precise temperature control. The second thing you need is a lid. It locks in flavour, keeps the temperature constant and can be used as an extra technique.
Once you have your own grill, take the time to read the instruction manual, set it up, and fuel it appropriately (lump charcoal or gas).
Prepare Your Grill
Clean the grill grates thoroughly before each use to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking. Always preheat the grill for about 10-15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
It’s important to learn how to control the temperature on your grill – it may take a little trial and error. This allows you to sear meats at high heat and cook vegetables more gently at a lower temperature. Familiarize yourself with the concept of direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is ideal for searing meats and creating grill marks, while indirect heat is better for longer cooking times or delicate items like vegetables.
Marinade & Season Your Food
Don't be afraid to try new flavors and marinades. Explore different spice rubs, marinade recipes, and combinations of herbs and seasonings to create unique and delicious grilled dishes.
Marinades enhance the flavor and tenderness of meats. Marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight for better results. Marinades can also be used to enhance the flavor of fish and seafood – marinade for 15-30 minutes for seafood and up to 1 hour for firmer fish.
If choosing a dry rub, apply directly to the meats, fish or seafood before grilling for an added layer of flavor.
You can try Chef Pete’s simple rub, or create your own:
In a small mason jar combine the following ingredients and mix thoroughly
- 2 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper or ancho chili powder
- 1 Tbsp high quality sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- ½ Tbsp. garlic salt
Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper to bring out their natural flavors. You can also use marinades or dressings to add extra flavor to grilled vegetables. Allow them to marinate for at least 15 minutes before grilling.
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Bring your meat, fish and vegetables to room temperature before grilling for more even cooking and trim excess fats from meats to avoid flare ups. Pat the meat dry using a paper towel to ensure better browning and prevent steaming.
Cut vegetables into uniform sizes to ensure even cooking. Use skewers or grill baskets to prevent small vegetables from falling through the grates and brush your vegetables with oil to prevent sticking.
Grilling fruits can enhance their natural sweetness and add smoky flavors. Cut fruits into slices or halves, removing any pits or seeds and brush lightly with oil or butter to prevent sticking.
Cooking Time & Temperatures
Keep a close eye on your food while grilling and avoid overcooking. Cooking times will vary depending on the type and thickness of your meats, seafood or vegetables. Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats will ensure accurate doneness and the tastiest, juiciest results.
A general temperature guide:
Beef (steaks, roasts):
- Medium-rare (135°F/57°C)
- Medium (145°F/63°C)
- Medium-well (150°F/66°C)
- Well-done (160°F/71°C).
Beef (hamburger) – unless grinding your own
- Medium-well (150°F/66°C)
- Well-done (160°F/71°C).
Poultry (chicken, turkey): 165°F/74°C for all cuts.
Pork: 145°F/63°C for medium.
Fish: Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F/63°C and flakes easily.
Shrimp and Scallops: Cook until they turn opaque and firm.
You can also use this general time guideline to assess doneness
- Steaks (1-inch-thick): Rare (4-5 min/side), Medium-rare (5-6 min/side), Medium (6-7 min/side), Well-done (8-10 min/side).
- Chicken breasts: 6-8 minutes per side.
- Pork chops (1-inch-thick): 6-8 minutes per side.
- Fish fillets (1-inch-thick): 3-4 minutes per side.
- Shrimp: 2-3 minutes per side.
- Scallops: 2-3 minutes per side.
- Asparagus: 4-6 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Bell Peppers: 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Zucchini and Summer Squash: 4-6 minutes, turning once.
- Corn on the Cob: 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Portobello Mushrooms: 6-8 minutes, turning once.
- Grill fruits over medium heat for a few minutes on each side until grill marks appear and the fruit is tender.
Use tongs or a spatula to flip meats and vegetables. Avoid using forks, as they can pierce the food and cause moisture loss. Handle delicate items like fish and seafood with care to prevent them from falling apart.
You can baste your meats and vegetables with sauces or marinades during grilling to add flavor and moisture and prevent your vegetables from drying out. If you are choosing sauces that contain fruits, sugars or honey, be sure to only use them during the last 5-10 minutes of grilling to prevent burning.
Allow your meat to rest for a few minutes after grilling. This helps the juices redistribute, resulting in juicier and more flavorful meat. Tent the meat loosely with foil during the resting period.
You can then serve your grilled meat and vegetables immediately for the best taste and texture.
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Grilling takes practice, so don't get discouraged if your first attempts aren't perfect. With time and patience, you'll develop a sense of timing and technique that will result in perfectly grilled meats and vegetables.
Remember, grilling is as much an art as it is a science. Enjoy the process, experiment with different ingredients and techniques, and most importantly, have fun while creating delicious grilled meals!