Editor’s Confession: Another year has gone by and I STILL don’t own a grill! Having grown up in an apartment, there is something that has always freaked me out about the idea of owning and operating a BBQ. But I live in L.A., and I think it is practically illegal not to own one. So I decided to revisit our fab friend Kathy’s grilling advice from last season – and hopefully by next week I will be embracing my inner grill master!
Show Off Your Skill on the Grill
“I NEED MY MAN! I just totally charred a once beautiful rib eye on the grill! I can cook anything, but the grill vexes me. Had to cover the meat in roasted garlic, Stilton blue cheese and pair it with a great Cabernet in order to eat it. Think the grill senses I am not a guy?”
This was the recent Facebook update written by my foodie friend – usually an excellent cook – that instantly grabbed my intention. The post got a ton of comments because IT’S TRUE. Why are men so much better at grilling than women? Or maybe the better question is, why are men more comfortable grilling than making a casserole? Brandi read somewhere that subconsciously, men don’t see grilling as cooking but rather as tending fire. They don’t perceive it as a chore, but rather something they need to conquer (how do we get them to transfer this mentality to other tasks?). This is exactly the way my husband views grilling a steak! But when I grill, I typically walk away thinking “I’m no good at this. I don’t want to do it anymore.”
Maybe it’s as primal as the caveman theory, or maybe society just perpetuates the myth that women can’t grill so our Dads never teach us how? What ever the case, I love BBQ, and this Memorial Day I vowed to get off appetizer & beverage duty and conquer my fear of our good old-fashioned charcoal Weber. Here are the grilling tricks that I’ve discovered so far!
When it’s time to choose a grill the bottom line is not always money, but time. These days avid grillers have both a gas and charcoal grill. They use the gas grill on weekdays after work when time is of the essence. A gas grill heats up in minutes and the cleanup is easier. But, it doesn’t add the smoky taste of a charcoal grill (which I LOVE), so a true BBQ connoisseur will have a charcoal grill for the weekend when there’s more time to devote to the meal. A charcoal grill can be messy, takes time to light and you have to let the coals sit about 20-minutes to reach cooking temperature.
Cooking With Charcoal
Cooking with charcoal guarantees the smoky flavor that many people love, but it is more high maintenance. You’ll have to clean the grill every time you use it and remove the ash more often. It’s also harder to light and to know when the coals are ready for cooking, which is the reason I left grilling to my husband until recently. Here are some tips to make using a charcoal grill a little easier!
- Determine how much charcoal you are going to need. One layer along the bottom of the grill is good for steaks, chicken, fish and vegetables. Two layers will be needed for roasts.
- Stack charcoal into a cone shape. This is very important because it makes the coals light faster and hotter and your fire won’t burn out, which can ruin your whole meal.
- Pour about a ¼ cup of lighter fluid on coals and let it sit for 3-minutes to soak in thoroughly.
- Use a long match and light from the bottom on at least two-sides
- Let the fire burn until all coals are white on the surface. You don’t want to see any flames.
- Use long handled tongs to spread the coals evenly across the coal grate.
- Close the lid, wait 5 minutes before starting to grill.
I have always wondered how long it should take steak and chicken to cook with charcoal, and I was constantly cutting into the meat to make sure it was done. The general rule is about 20-minutes for a 1” steak and about 7-minutes for each side of a boneless chicken/9-minutes for chicken on the bone. Hamburgers take approximately 2 to 4 minutes on one side depending on the thickness, the type of meat (leaner meat cooks faster), and how well done you want it to be. Flip the burger and cook on the other side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. With hamburgers never push down on the meat with the spatula because it forces all the juice out and makes the burger dry!
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