Whether you’re a raw rookie behind your first grill or a seasoned veteran who can execute perfect 90 degree grill marks in his sleep, you’ll love the Grill Nation Game Plan where I lay down Grill Nation’s 5 Keys To Grilling Success. So pour yourself a little of what you like and read on…
1. Know Your Heat/Know Your Meat
Choosing Direct vs. Indirect heat is critical. As a rule, I like to use the Indirect Method when doing foods that require more than 20-25 minutes of grilling time. Whole chickens, turkeys, beef roasts, pork roasts and ribs are simply better when done this way. Direct Heat is best used for foods with total grill times of 20-25 minutes or less, and produces those classic grill or char marks that grillers love. Steaks, chicken breast, sausages, brauts and grilled vegetables are usually done this way. For a more detailed discussion see Chip Carter’s January 15th 2009 post – Gimme Fuel Gimme Fire: Direct vs. Indirect Heat.
Whether you played Pop Warner football, High School hockey, or Collegiate hoops, you had a pre-game ritual. You probably still do! Grilling is no different, and before that soon-to-be-perfect steak hits the grill, make sure your grill is preheated and that the temperature is steady. Preheat times depend on your grill itself, desired temperature, and environmental factors, but giving your gas grill 15 minutes to reach a steady state is good starting point. (Of course charcoal grillers have a different challenge – but we will save that for another day!)
3. Timing Is Everything
I can’t stress the importance of using a timer enough. Think of it as your game clock. As a general rule, meat that is grilled using Direct Heat should be turned only once and this should occur when you reach half your total grilling time. So, for example, on my grill a 1 inch New York Strip done over Medium/High Direct Heat takes about 8 minutes (medium rare) and should be flipped at the 4 minute mark. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m grilling, there’s usually lots of distractions – having a countdown timer with an alarm keeps me tuned in. Ever seen a football game when the 40 second clock fails? Exactly.
4. Take A Temperature
Get a good meat thermometer and use it. Bottom line. All sorts of methods are out there for determining doneness and in my opinion none of them come without a cost. Cutting into meat while grilling causes tasty juices to be lost and just plain doesn’t look slick. Trying to compare the feel of the meat to the fleshy part of your hand at the base of your thumb? Come on, really. Does that make any sense? Get a good meat thermometer and use it. Most recipes will tell you what your target internal temperature is and after a few reps you’ll never be without one.
5. Pitch A Tent and Let It Rest
Once your culinary masterpiece comes off the grill, cover it with an aluminum foil ‘tent’ and let it rest 3-5 minutes. Resting allows the juices within the meat to redistribute evenly throughout so that they are not lost after the first cut. Do not wrap the meat in foil – in fact its best if the foil does not touch the meat at all.
I hope you find Grill Nation’s 5 Keys to Grilling Success helpful. They’re part of my Game Plan every week! And yes, my fantasy team crashed and burned (see Timing Is Everything: Grillers on the Clock) but March Madness and redemption are just around the corner!
Thanks for playing,