By Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
I have done cooking tips in the past, but these are related to grilling. Here are 10 good tips for grilling meat. Remember to always preheat your grill before you start cooking. Let’s get started.
- Start with a clean grill. The best way to do this is to clean the grill after cooking. After removing the food leave the grill on for five minutes and close the lid. Turn off the heat and scrub the grill really well with a wire brush (preferably with a wooden handle). Don’t have a wire brush? Use tongs to hold a wadded up piece of foil to scrape the grill.
- Don’t move the food around. The fewer times you flip meat the juicier it will be. I will rotate steaks once to get crisscross grill marks, but I only flip (or turn over) once. Bone-in chicken or large roasts are the exception, but I still try to limit the times I flip.
- Don’t squeeze the meat. Squeezing meat causes the juices and fat to expel and that juice is good flavor. It may also cause flare ups which can create soot on the food which is a carcinogen that tastes biter and is bad for you.
- Keep a spray bottle handy for flare ups. Refer to number 3, flare ups can also burn the meat. A squirt gun works for gas grills, but a spray bottle is better for charcoal. Aim under the grates into the fire. Don’t use a lot of force as it may cause ashes to fly up. Just extinguish the flare up and move food to a cooler part of the grill.
- Let meat warm up before cooking. Letting meat sit on the counter for 30 minutes allows it to cook more evenly. If you like rare steak, or rare tuna skip this step.
- Buy a meat thermometer. Unless you have a lot of experience it can be hard to tell when meat is done. But if you’d like to know my fingertip trick for steak – touch the tip of your index finger to your thumb tip, do not pinch, just touch. Feel the flesh on your palm next to your thumb. This is how a rare steak feels, then your middle finger for medium rare. Ring finger for medium well, pinky for well done. A $10 thermometer does this for you with no guess work.
- Undercook food slightly. Residual, or carryover cooking will always happen. When the meat is removed it will continue to cook through another 5 to 10 degrees depending on the size. Keep this in mind when you take the food temperature.
- Let the meat rest. Muscle fibers in meat tense up when grilling. Cover the meat and allow to sit 10 minutes, this will allow the fibers to relax and the juices will redistribute evenly throughout.
- Create grilling zones. When cooking large cuts it can be easy to burn in order to cook through. Leave one side of the grill low, or off. Get those nice grill marks all around, then move to the low side and close the lids. The radiant heat will cook without burning.
- Make easy-to-serve sides. Cooking for crowds can be a lot to manage. Traditional sides, like potato or pasta salads take the stress off coordinating finish times. Just leave in the fridge until all the meat is ready.
- 1 pork steak per person
- Favorite grilling spices
- 1 handful of wood chips wrapped in foil (optional)
- 1 aluminum 8×11 or 9×15 pan
- 6 pack beer
- Favorite barbeque sauce
Preheat one side to two-thirds of grill on high heat and leave the other side off or very low. If using woodchips, poke several holes in foil and lay next to coals or on the hot side of a gas grill. Season the pork steaks liberally and sear on hot side of grill. Place steaks in aluminum pan and move to cold side of grill. Crack open a coldie and pour some beer in pan about half way of the thickness of the steaks. Close lid and check periodically and add beer when needed. I time check each time I open a new beer. In about two hours you will have very tender pork steaks. Let the last addition of beer cook off and then brush one side with barbeque sauce and close the lid for 7 minutes. Then flip and brush the other side and close lid for another 7 minutes. I like to do this a couple of times. Don’t like beer? Try cola. Enjoy!
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.