I love the call of spring and summertime grilling. The ease of getting outside the convection heat
gives such great flavor and texture to meats and vegetables. Plus, most of the fat drips away
from the mean which means it can be a healthier way to cook. I say get out there.
These tips are for gas grills but some of the basic concepts work for charcoal grilling also.
Here are a few tools you might need:
These basics will help you learn how to grill. Remember to always follow a few
A hot grill will yield a high temperature, cooking food hot and fast. For thin cuts of
meat and smaller items like kebabs, steaks, chops burgers and hot dogs, turn
up the heat and cook them quickly. The fast pace means you need to keep a
close eye on the grill and more importantly, the food.
Hot and fast, however, isn’t the way to grill everything. Fish, chicken, vegetables,
and fruit are better grilled at lower temperatures; aim for medium heat with these
foods.. You still need to watch these foods closely, but they generally take longer
to cook at a lower temperature.
Certain foods benefit from being cooked away from the heat source, using
indirect heat. This means having the fire on one side of the grill and the food on
the other. It works well for large foods like whole chickens, beef roasts, racks of
ribs, and any other poultry or meat that needs a lot of time to cook. Indirect
grilling allows you to successfully cook through the middle of the protein before
the outside burns. If you have a large grill with several burners, it is best to place
food in the middle and light the burners on either side. If your gas grill is too small
for this setup, place the food on one side and light the burner on the other. You
will have to rotate the food to cook it evenly.
I even love cooking my chicken on the cold side of the grill. I turn all the burners
on high, sear my chicken on both sides and then I turn half the burners off and
move the chicken to the “off” or cold side. It will take a little longer but it keeps
the chicken moist — especially good for bone in chicken breasts.
With a gas grill, the temperature dials are a good indication of how high or low
the heat is. There is a method to gauge temperature using only your hand.
Carefully hold your hand just above the cooking grate and start counting the
seconds until you cannot tolerate the heat (it will feel like your skin will burn). The
longer you can hold your hand above the fire, the lower the heat. The guidelines
to follow are:
● 5 Seconds = Low heat
● 4 Seconds = Medium heat
● 3 Seconds = Medium-high heat
● 2 Seconds = High heat
● 1 Second = Very high heat
A common grilling myth is that you shouldn’t turn grilled foods too frequently. Flip
when you need to; you want even cooking. Move your foods around the grill and
take advantage of the space to avoid flare-ups. However, don’t be alarmed since
flare-ups are bound to happen, especially with high-fat foods like steak or
While there are general grilling time guidelines, knowing when food is done is a
challenge. There are three laws of successful grilling:
● Law 1: You can cook longer, but you can’t “uncook” food.
● Law 2: Undercooked meats can kill you.
● Law 3: Trust and verify. Experience is the best tool you have when cooking
to a proper doneness, but a meat thermometer is necessary to make sure
you have it right.
The most basic benefit of a gas grill is control. With the turn of a knob, you can
easily control the temperature to set it where you want it. Read the manual for
your specific grill prior to using and follow these steps for successful gas grilling:
1. Uncover your grill and turn on the gas supply.
2. Turn on the control valves to high and light the grill (follow your grills
3. Preheat your grill. A good grill should be hot in about 10 minutes.
4. Take a grill brush and clean off the cooking surface.
5. Place your food on the hot grill and remain at your grill. Food will cook
quickly; if you leave, you run the risk of burning the food.
6. Flip when necessary and remove when done.
7. Leave the grill running on high for a few minutes.
8. Take your grill brush and clean off the cooking surface.
9. Turn off the control valves and fuel supply.
10. Allow the grill to completely cool and replace the cover.
Typically gas grills work best with the lid closed. The lid needs to be down to
generate the intense heat necessary for high-temperature grilling. Indirect grilling
also requires the lid to be down.
Check out The Zen Mommy for more tips & recipes.