How To Master The Grill This Summer
Food editor Kristen Eppich shares how to have your most delicious barbecue season yet.
There are so many good things that come out of grilling: a subtle smokiness to your food, a crispy crust on meat and, of course, a mess-free kitchen. I’ve always used my grill to experiment with new foods and cooking methods, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way — some truths, like the best way to grill a chicken is over indirect heat, and a few myths, like you can’t barbecue a whole fish without having it stick to the grate (oh, yes you can!). Here are my top tips and recipes for a summer of blue-sky barbecuing.
It’s simple: The hotter the grate, the less likely it is that food will stick. Preheat gas grills for a minimum of 10 minutes. For charcoal grills, coals need to be white hot — about 20 minutes of preheating. Having this level of heat means you can even cook foods with the most delicate exteriors, like whole fish, right on the grill. If you are cooking fish, brining it will help strengthen it before it hits the heat.
Get our recipe for Grilled Branzino With Tarragon Gremolata Aioli.
We tend to avoid cooking small vegetables on the barbecue because they can fall through the grates. But the flavor grilling imparts — smoke and sweetness, with a touch of char — is totally worth it. Invest in a grilling wok or basket or devote a cast-iron skillet to barbecue-only use so you can make this delicious hot potato salad.
Get our recipe for Hot Potato Salad With Cipollini Onions And Dill.
Direct-heat grilling means cooking on the grates directly over the flame. The most common type of grilling, it’s used for fast-cooking cuts of meat that require a well-seared exterior, like this steak. This method is prone to flare-ups, so when you’re cooking marinated items, shake off excess liquid before placing them on the grill. For a seared exterior and a rare interior on very thin cuts, leave the lid open to prevent overcooking. Direct heat is ideal for chicken breasts, steak and, yes, burgers.
Get our recipe for Coffee Salt–Rubbed Porterhouse Steak.
Indirect heat is ideal for any meat that needs a slower cooking time to reach the proper internal temperature. The benefit of this method is that you’ll get a lovely crust on your meat but a tender and juicy interior, as done with this chicken. The best way to arrange a barbecue for cooking with indirect heat is to set two burners to medium and turn off one. Cook your food over the unlit burner, according to recipe directions, until the proper internal temperature is reached. Indirect heat is perfect for pork, beef roasts or whole chickens, like our Spicy Spatchcock Chicken.
Get our recipe for Spicy Spatchcock Chicken.
Any oil put directly on grates will run off and burn, creating flare ups, charred flavor and a dirty grill. Always clean your grill right after cooking and after preheating to keep it functioning well and to avoid attracting insects and other critters. For this Chewy Meringues With Coconut Cream And Grilled Stone Fruit recipe, the fruits were brushed with oil before grilling.
Get our recipe for Chewy Meringues With Coconut Cream And Grilled Stone Fruit.