Planning to have a barbecue session this weekend?
Here are some helpful barbecuing tips:
Clean your grate with a wire grill brush, loosening particles of food from past use. For a more thorough cleaning, spray with oven cleaner or wash with soapy water, and rinse thoroughly.
Before grilling, apply vegetable oil to the grate or coat it with a non-stick cooking spray, and open any vents on the bottom of your grill.
Trim excess fat from your meats to prevent sudden flare-ups. To ensure more even cooking, bring foods to room temperature before placing them on the grill.
To sear: A fast, high-temperature cooking method that seals in natural juices -- leave the grill uncovered. A covered grill will impart a smokier flavor to the food.
If you're using a charcoal grill, allow at least 30 minutes for the coals to heat; they should be covered with a glowing gray ash before food is placed on the grill. If you own a gas grill, allow about 15 minutes for the grill rack to preheat properly.
To test the temperature of the grill, carefully place the palm of your hand above the coals at about cooking height, then count the number of seconds you can hold it there before the heat becomes too hot. Most people can hold their hand over a red-hot fire for only about two seconds. Steaks, chops, burgers, and boneless chicken are best cooked over such high heat.
Most other grillable foods, including vegetables, cook best over a medium-hot fire, with coals that are covered with a light-gray ash. You can generally hold your hand over a medium-hot fire for roughly four seconds. Coals covered entirely with a gray ash characterize a medium fire; you can hold your hand above one for around six seconds.
After placing food on the grill, take care not to turn it during the first few minutes of cooking time, when juices are sealed in and telltale grill marks form. Because raw meats and poultry may contain potentially harmful bacteria, divide any grilling sauces you might use into two portions -- one to be brushed on, the other to pass at the table -- to avoid cross-contamination.
For low-fat grilling, use herbs and salt instead of oil.
For low-salt grilling, try a combination of lime juice and
chili as a salt substitute.
To avoid burning vegetables before they're done, push them to the side of grill where heat is moderate.
After you've taken the last thing off your gas grill, place aluminum foil over the grate and turn the gas up to high for one minute. Then turn it off. The foil focuses the heat on the grate, burning everything to a fine ash. After it's cooled down, crumple up the foil and use it to brush the ash off the grate.
When applying a rub to whole poultry make sure to work the rub onto the entire surface inside and out. Also try to rub it into the meat under the skin.
Wrap the ends of bone in ribs with aluminum foil to prevent drying and burning.