Memorial Day Cookout: 10 Tips to Amp Up Your Grilling Game
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the
summer grilling season and there's no better time to be king (or
queen) of fire and charcoal.
Clint Cantwell is the captain of
Smoke In Da Eye, the award-winning competitive grilling team
from Garden City, NY and has competed in cooking contests
throughout the Northeast. He also serves as the guest
editor for the recently launched outdoor cooking site
As one of the fiercest grill
masters in the country, Cantwell offers his 10 tips for taking
your outdoor cookout to a whole new level.
1. Light my Fire:
When starting the fire, consider using a charcoal chimney
instead of starting the coals directly in the grill. The
air flow created by the chimney makes for a much faster start.
Simply Fill it to the top with charcoal; light either by
igniting a crumpled sheet of newspaper; cooking oil soaked paper
towel or a fire starter cube underneath, and within 15 minutes
the coals will be ready for grilling.
2. Tool Time:
One of the most effective and multipurpose tools one can have
when grilling is a set of long-handled tongs. In addition
to allowing you to flip those steaks and burgers while staying
safely away from the flames, they're also useful as a grate
cleaner (grasp a ball of tin foil in the tongs and scrub the
grates clean) or to oil the grill (grasp a ball of paper towels
dipped in vegetable oil and wipe away).
3. Be One With the Grill:
The more you use it, the more comfortable you'll be grilling
items other than hamburgers and hot dogs. By knowing the
grill's hot spots, how temperatures change when you open and
close the lid, and other nuances, you'll be cooking up grilled
pizzas and rack of lamb in no time.
4. It's the Bomb:
When cooking on a gas grill, bring depth of flavor by wrapping a
handful of wood chips (available at most hardware stores and
major grocery chains) in a double layer of foil, poking a few
holes in the foil and placing them under the grate. The
chips will smolder, releasing flavorful smoke from it
inexpensive "smoke bomb.' It's also easy to clean up.
5. Flipping Out: While
most people insist on poking, twisting and flipping grilled
items every 15 seconds, resist the urge and limit turns to no
more than two per side. Meat, fish or poultry that
normally stick to the grates will release naturally while the
food will be able to absorb all the great flavor the grill can
6. On the Rise: Just
because your beautiful steak or pork chops are done grilling,
that doesn't mean they're finished cooking. Temperatures
inside the meat actually increase about 10 more degrees after
it's removed from the flame, meaning a medium-rare steak should
be pulled at 125-130 degrees rather than the desired 135-140
7. Going Against the
Grain: Finding ways to take tougher cuts of mean over
the top is central to the art of grilling and barbecue.
But despite having the perfect recipe and the perfect execution,
your brisket, flank steak or flat iron steak is still going to
taste like a dry chewy shoe if you don't slice it across the
fibrous grains that run through the meat.
8. The Juice is Loose:
The cooking is complete and now it's time to eat.
Or is it? By letting the meat rest 10 minutes, the
internal juices have time to be reabsorbed instead of flowing
all over the your cutting board. The result is a more
tender and juicy meal.
9. The Doctor Is In:
Create your own "signature" barbecue sauce by adding layers of
sweet (fruit juice, fruit preserves, honey, and/or molasses),
heat (ground peppers such as chipotle or ancho), and tartness
(apple cider vinegar) to you favorite store-bought brand.
10. Make PETA Proud:
Grilling doesn't have to be an all-protein affair. Impress
your friends and family by poking several holes in a disposable
aluminum pan and throwing in cauliflower florets, sweet potato
slices, halved figs or other fruits and vegetables along with
some olive oil and seasoning. Heat the pan over
medium-high heat, tossing the contents periodically until
caramelized and tender.
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