When the weather is perfect outside, there’s nothing like firing up the pit and gathering with good company to enjoy some grilling. Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast, a pitmaster or you’ve just bought your first grill and want to start using it, there are some basic steps and a handful of techniques that can turn your weekend BBQ into a masterful, delicious grilling experience.
We have gathered practical and useful guidance from some of the world’s most famous and knowledgeable grilling experts; anything from BBQ essentials to pro techniques and more!
What’s the difference between a grill and a smoker?
We tend to divide outdoor cooking between barbecue and grilling. Barbecue is a low and slow method of cooking food that maximizes smoke flavor. On the other hand, grilling is a hot and fast style that may or may not include smoke. Grilling includes foods with a shorter cooking time at higher temperatures, while a smoker cooks foods slowly at lower temperatures. However, there are exceptions.
Some grills, particularly charcoal, can function as both a grill and a smoker. This is true for kamado grills. Kamados are highly insulated charcoal grills that can reach over 800° F or hold a smoking temperature of 225° F for twelve hours. These grills are excellent, ‘do it all’ cookers, but some fall short for those needing a larger cooking area.
Gas grills cannot produce smoke on their own, but they can function as smokers when set up for indirect cooking. Even then, gas grills do not make good smokers. As grills, they are easy to use, reliable, and convenient. Not all gas grills are created equally, but most work fine for regular cookouts.
Smokers are much more specialized pieces of cooking equipment. Yes, some smokers can grill, but this isn’t their main purpose. Smokers are specifically made to use fuels like charcoal, hardwood, gas, while others are electrically powered. These units can range from simple cookers to technological marvels with a host of impressive features.
Next in line are pellet grills. Generally speaking, these are excellent smokers and pretty good grills. Many pellet grills struggle to reach hot searing temperatures of around 700° F, but they can grill well enough for most tasks. Newer pellet grills are nearly as easy to use as gas grills. Simply add the pellets, turn them on, and let it do its job. Pellet grills are popular because they are multifunctional. Recently, through incredible innovation, some pellet grills can reach optimal searing temperatures.
While consumers might choose to purchase one over the other, the simple truth is that the differences between grills and smokers are shrinking. As mentioned above, kamados and pellet grills serve as dual-functional cooking equipment. However, gas grills remain a popular ticket item, as they offer busy cooks a quick grilling solution.
-Derrick Riches at Derrick Riches
What should be considered when shopping for a grill?
When shopping for a grill, there are many things to consider but I generally look for what I call “The Big Three”:
-The quality of the construction and materials used.
-The overall durability of the grill, including its ability to maintain consistent heat in harsh weather conditions.
-The grill’s ability to perform more than one task such as searing, smoking, grilling, and so forth.
There are many grills on the market such as pellet smokers, gas grills, ‘stick burners”, charcoal grills, and so on but as a general rule of thumb, no matter the type of grill you are looking to purchase, the overall build of the grill will dictate everything else about it. At Grilla Grills, for example, we use stainless steel and other high-quality materials in the construction, have double-walled insulation to promote steady heat in cold and wet weather, and we ensure that every grill that we sell passes a rigorous inspection process. Buying a grill can be a very serious investment so do your research and make sure that what you are purchasing aligns with what you will ultimately be cooking on a regular basis. Additionally, and most importantly, have fun with it and happy grilling!
-Chef Drew at Grilla Grills
What’s the best way to cook ribs?
At We Love Fire, we prefer the low n slow method on charcoal. How do we do it?
First and foremost, we like the St. Louis cut. That cut is the meatier one. St. Louis ribs are flatter than the baby back ribs, so easier to set up for the smoking part on the grill.
-Our first step is to remove the membrane. We find it provides a better mouth feel and allows for the smoke ring to penetrate better into the meat.
-Our second step is to rub the ribs with a mix of the season. If we feel sweet, our rub will trend toward the sweet side. If we want spicy, southern style, we will adapt our rub that way. We like to have the rub made the evening before the cook. It gives it time to penetrate the meat.
-The third step is preparing the smoker. We use the Ambiance Kamado. Its size is just right, and we have deflector plates for indirect heat.
We like to smoke the ribs at 225°F for 6 to 8 hours as a minimum. We like to get wood chips dripped in water and we periodically add them to the charcoal throughout the cook. This contributes to enhancing the smoke flavor we are aspiring to. Toward the end of the cook, we like to baste with our BBQ sauce of the moment. Raise the temperature of the smoker to create bark on the ribs. One element to consider if using a charcoal kettle is the addition of the drip pan. This is not necessary for the Kamado, but it really is for the Kettle. Add water to it, so it will help the meat to stay moist and not ‘dry out’.
By using the Low n Slow method, your ribs should end up with a smoke ring and a bark. The bonus is an outstanding taste and moist feel inside the mouth.
-Dominique Page at We Love Fire
What are the different types of wood for smoking?
The casual BBQ fan isn’t likely to be able to discern whether a pork shoulder was smoked using cherry or pecan, most people just want their BBQ to taste like smoke. That said, occasionally folks ask me which wood I use and why. Well, that depends on what I’m cooking, but there’s no right or wrong here – this is all about personal preference. Sure, there’s some BBQ etiquette amongst those on the competition BBQ circuit, but if you’re not a competition cook I say experiment and find what you like. After many years of eating and cooking BBQ, I’ve come to appreciate the various species of wood and how they complement the meat while increasing the depth of flavor. Most hardwood species are fine to use on their own, but you can experiment to see if certain woods are better if they are combined with another type. This is something I do often because different woods create different flavors and colors.
Think of it as using more than one seasoning on a piece of meat. As for chunks or chips? I prefer chunks; they’re bigger and burn slower, but chips are fine in certain applications. That said, using wood splits is another option that I highly recommend. Most importantly, remember that not all wood is good for cooking and smoking. Be sure the wood is dried, and without any rot or fungus on it before using it. If you have a great local source, you’re lucky. I don’t so I get mine from Cutting Edge Firewood. Top-quality stuff that’s clean and kiln-dried, perfect for cooking and smoking.
Finally, it’s important to note that where the wood is harvested can be more important than the species itself. For example, an oak and a cherry tree harvested from within close proximity may produce a more similar flavor than that of two oak trees harvested in separate geographies. This has to do with the soil the tree was grown in, and the subsequent amount of minerals contained within the wood.
Apple: Applewood has a slight fruity flavor profile with a hint of sweetness, but it is overall pretty mild. Its flavor is subtle enough that it can be used with all types of meat, I especially like it with pork and chicken. It can be used to smoke beef when paired with some mesquite for a flavorful blend. Applewood can also change the color of light-colored meat like chicken, but the color change isn’t extreme like cherry wood.
Cherry: Super versatile for all types of meat, cherry wood is sweet, fruity, and mild. Not only does it provide a great depth of flavor, but it also changes the color, giving the meat a rosy red to a dark brown shade.
Hickory: Hickory is the most common type of wood used for smoking. Sweet and full of flavor, some find it to be overpowering when used by itself, making it a great option to pair with another more mild type of wood.
Oak: Oakwood has a strong intense flavor, almost as intense as hickory. It can be used by itself or blended with fruitwood like an apple or cherry. It works well with any kind of meat, but it is a popular pick to use with brisket.
Peach: The ideal wood for pork, peach wood has an intense flavor like hickory but is sweeter and fruity. It can be used for other meats, too, such as chicken and turkey.
Pecan: Pecan wood has a mild flavor that is greater than fruit wood but not as strong compared to hickory. It is a subtle flavor that pairs extremely well with all varieties of meat including pork and even salmon.
-Matthew Eads at Grillseeker
What are meat injectors and how can I use them?
Simply put it is a valuable BBQ tool you should have in your arsenal. Now, exactly it is generally a syringe-looking item that will hold a liquid product. Most injectors are made of a plastic material with metal pieces attached. Some can be as simple as a $2 kitchen injector found at almost any food store all the way up to massive 2 handed tools used for injecting large meats like whole hogs.
The basis of an injector is to place flavored liquid deep in the meat you’re about to cook. The needle is very important for this job. The 2 most popular ones are an open tip needle and a needle with openings on the side. If you’re injecting into muscles the open end is my go-to, if you’re going through a layer of fat, use the side opening so the tip doesn’t get filled with a layer of fat. Whatever style injector you use they all can be cleaned and stored and reused. The next question is why or when do I inject. That question will have to wait.
-David Bouska at Butcher BBQ
What’s the difference between sauce and glaze?
The other day, someone asked us if our Bearded Butcher Barbecue Sauce could be used as a glaze. The ensuing discussion had some hilarious moments as definitions of sauce and glaze got confused and devolved into jokes about why sauciness is a word but glaziness isn’t -or is it?
It turns out that glaziness is a word and our barbecue sauce can be used as a glaze. But that doesn’t do much to explain the differences, so we will give you a brief rundown on what the experts say the difference is. We’ve also got a longer post that shows you how to make your own glaze from scratch.
The basic difference between a glaze and a sauce comes down to how it is used. A glaze is intended to add flavor and appearance to your meat while it cooks. The glaze helps to lock in juicy moisture and prevent drying while often adding a shiny look to the surface.
Sauce, on the other hand, can be basted onto your meat while cooking and is commonly used as a condiment for dipping and dunking once the meat is served. Sauce tends to be heavier, less shiny, and has a larger spice profile than a glaze. Sauce is also good on its own, while you wouldn’t want to mop up extra glaze with french fries.
What Makes a Glaze Glazy
Glazes tend to be thick, sticky, and often transparent. They are brushed on meat near the end of cooking and are typically not reapplied during the cooking process. A glaze tends to have high amounts of sugars and may even use corn syrup or cola to help promote adhesion to the meat often to give a crispy or crunchy texture.
What Makes a Sauce Saucy
Sauces often have a large number of spices like garlic, hot peppers, and herbs to add dimensions of flavor and enhance the taste of beef, chicken, and pork. Most often, a sauce is going to be drippy, opaque, and packed with flavor. It is as good brushed on meat during the cooking process as it is for dipping and dunking while eating.
Using Bearded Butchers Barbecue Sauce as a Glaze
Our barbecue sauce has enough sugar in it to adhere to meat when barbecuing. To use our sauce for a glaze, simply brush it on during the last thirty minutes of cooking and let it glaze the meat. If you put it on too soon or the temperature is too high, the glaze will burn and you’ll end up with a flavor that isn’t very good.
The basic difference between sauce and glaze is that glazing is a cooking technique used to finish cooked meat to give it a crispy crunch. Sauce is used as a condiment and compliments the flavors of smoked or barbecued meats, particularly when served with the meat. Sauce can also be used to baste meat during the cooking process, something you won’t do with glaze. Hopefully, that simplifies this oddly confusing subject and maybe it even sheds a little light on why you might say someone is saucy, but probably not glazy.
-Scott and Seth Perkins at The Bearded Butchers
Are wood chunks and wood chips the same?
The short answer is no, they are not the same. Wood chips and wood chunks are used as two separate methods for adding smoke flavor to your food.
Wood chips are typically used for short periods of smoking and typically work best in an electric or gas smoker. Electric and gas smokers typically have an included smoker box that is designed specifically for wood chips. Wood chunks will not fit in these smoker boxes. If you are smoking fish or small cuts of meat that do not need long smoking times, and you have an electric or gas smoker with the smokebox, you can use wood chips.
Wood chunks are better suited for long-smoking cooks. Think brisket, turkey, ribs, etc. Wood chunks typically range in size from 2″-4″ square and will not fit in an electric or gas smoker box. Wood chunks are best used in Charcoal smokers such as Weber Kettles, or Kamado-style grills like Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe. The best way to smoke with wood chunks is to light your coals (acting as the heat source) and once the coals are fully lit, you simply add a couple of chunks of wood on top of the coals. The coals will slowly ignite the wood chunk and they will start creating smoke. Whenever I use my Weber Kettle and cooking burgers, steak, chicken, pork chops I will always throw a chunk or two of wood on the coals. I find the extra smoky flavor really adds to the meal.
A couple of misconceptions about wood chips and chunks:
- Should you soak the wood chips or chunks in water before you add them to the smoker or grill?
No. I’m not sure where this idea ever took off but I’ll explain why you do not need to bother with this step. When soaking your wood chips or chunks in the water you are simply increasing the moisture content in the wood. When you add the soaked wood chips or chunks to your lit smoker, they will last longer than the un-soaked chips and chunks but they will also take more time to start creating smoke for your food. When you soak the wood before the cook, all you accomplish is delaying when the smoke begins. There is no benefit to this and I also argue that you are bringing in unwanted flavors to your food when the water is evaporating out of the wood.
- Can you use wood chips on a gas grill?
Yes, you can as long as you have a proper smoke box device to put the wood chips in. There are a lot of companies offering smoke box accessories for gas grills. Preheat your gas grill and load your smoker box with wood chips. Place the smoker box over top of the far left or right burner. Once you see smoke starting to bellow out of the grill, turn the burner under the smoker box to low. You are ready to cook.
-Michael Haas at Angry BBQ
How can I season my new grill?
It is finally time to bring out your new grill! But before you hit the backyard, make sure that it is properly seasoned. Here is how to season your new grill.
What is grill seasoning, and how does it work?
Grill seasoning is a coating of oil that prevents food from sticking to the grill and creates an ultra-smooth nonstick surface, especially when it comes to cast iron grates. This also helps to keep your grill free of rust and corrosion.
Let’s get started; remove the grill grates
If you’re using your grill for the first time, be sure that it’s turned off and the grates are cool.
Remove the grates from the grill and clean them with soap and water. Do not use harsh abrasives to clean the grates; instead, use a gentle dishwashing liquid. Before oiling both sides of each grate, dry them completely. Porcelain grates do not need seasoning.
How do I apply the oil?
Remove all the inside parts of the grill and cover every metal part with oil. The simplest and most effective technique is to spray it, but you may also spread the oil on the entire inner surface of your grill, including the grates and lid/hood, using paper towels or a cloth.
Once this has been done, place your clean and seasoned grates back onto your grill.
Which is the best oil to use?
The ideal unfined oil to use has a high smoke point, such as canola or peanut oil. Other vegetable oils may also be used; however, keep in mind that the smoke point should be greater than 400° F.
Let’s get the fire started
Turn on your grill to high heat all the way, and the oil will seep into the pores of the iron. Allow it to burn and smoke for at least 30 minutes. While the interior of smoking and cooking, it’s time to apply a thin layer of oil on the outside of your grill and wipe away the excess with oil with a paper towel or cloth.
Is Seasoning Your Grill the Same for Every Type of Grill?
Yes, the process will be the same whether you have a gas grill, pellet, or charcoal grill.
What are the benefits of seasoning your new grill?
- It keeps your grill in good condition and extends its life by preventing rust.
- Everything within and outside of the grill from the manufacturing process is burned away when you first start your grill. (grease, oil, dust)
-Zoltán Pukli at Red Brick Kitchen
What is the right way to grill vegetables?
If you’ve ever had an eggplant that’s charred on the outside but still stiff and “raw” on the inside or zucchini that has nice grill marks but is mushy and over-cooked, then you know: great results with vegetables on the grill can be difficult to achieve!
Vegetables are so delicious cooked on the grill but precise timing and temperature are key to making sure the outsides get nice grill marks and char flavor while the insides become tender but not mushy.
How you cut vegetables also matters to keep them from falling through the grates. Here are some tips:
Zucchini: Cut the zucchini into coins or lengthwise into long, flat planks. Place on the grill perpendicular to the grate lines. Grill at 500-550°F for 5-7 minutes total, flipping halfway through.
Onions: Peel the outer layer of the onions and quarter or cut crosswise into rounds; secure with skewers to keep the layers together. Grill at 600°F for 8-10 minutes total, flipping halfway through.
Mushrooms: Cut off stems from large mushrooms and grill whole. For smaller mushrooms, cut in half or keep whole and skewer. Grill large mushrooms at 500-550°F for 10-12 minutes total, flipping halfway through.
Corn: Cook corn in the husk, letting the husk blacken and slightly char the corn underneath. At Spark, we like cooking corn with our High Heat Briq at 700°F for 6-8 minutes total, turning to get some charring on all sides.
Acorn Squash: Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and then score the inner flesh before oiling and seasoning. Squash is also pretty cut into wedges. Grill wedges at 500°F for 5-7 minutes total, flipping halfway through.
–Julia Taylor-Brown at Spark Grills
What is the right way to grill a salmon?
Hey, Kick Ash Basket Fans! It’s officially fall, and quite a few of you are probably turning your thinking caps on, creating menus for the fall and winter holidays. I’m not quite there, myself.
See, salmon season is winding down here in Wisconsin, so I’ve been spending the past several weeks trying to perfect the art of grilling salmon. There’s been trial and there’s been error, but I think I’m well on my way to discovering the secret to perfectly grilled salmon.
Now, I’m by no means the final authority on grilling this fish. However, I’ve learned a lot; and, as grilling fish can be a tricky task to undertake, I thought I’d share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over my years of fishing and grilling my catch. Let’s dive in!
The seasoning is (almost) everything
I’ve found that there’s a huge difference between farm-raised and wild-caught salmon. Wild-caught fish seems to have a more robust flavor, while the farm-raised variety can be a bit bland.
The antidote to boring salmon is seasoning, but the key to your success is some salt. Sprinkle your salmon with salt a couple hours before grilling. Salt’s going to draw out the natural flavor of the fish; plus there’s an added bonus: it may help make your fish a little firmer and less likely to flake apart on the grill.
One side grills all
If you prepare your grill the right way, you don’t need to flip your salmon. That greatly reduces the likelihood that your fish will end up in the coals. First, I know that not everyone’s a fan of oiling the grill. With salmon, however, it really does help! It’ll keep the fish from sticking and allow you to avoid flipping during grilling.
Secondly, grill your salmon skin-side down. You’ll leave it on the grill for about eight minutes per inch of thickness. Done right, you won’t sacrifice that crispy skin—you can lift it right off with your spatula.
Third, if you’re using a farm-raised fish, you might want to consider lining your grill with fruit. Yup! If you lay orange, lemon, or lime slices on your grill, then set your filet on top, you’ll be guaranteed a non-stick grilling experience. The fruit will add a bit of flavor to the fish, too. The only downside is that you won’t get those beautiful grill lines.
Reconsider the foil debate
This one’s controversial, for sure. For beginner salmon grillers, though, I’d recommend you grill your fish in (or even just on) foil. You literally can not mess it up, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be moist.
Problem is, a lot of folks may accuse you of “steaming” your fish rather than grilling it. To that I say, “who cares?” Using foil will keep your salmon from falling through the grill grates and will give you the opportunity to practice with timing, temps, and seasoning.
So there you have it—my top tips on the “right” way to grill salmon. Let me know what you think, and be sure to post your pictures over in the Kick Ash Crew community on Facebook. Happy grilling, and have a Kick Ash Day!
-Chad Romzek at Kick Ash Basket
What are the differences between cooking on a grill and cooking on a griddle?
A conventional grill uses a wire mesh grill grate on which the food is placed. The fire underneath heats the food and “grills” it. The open design of the grill grates causes all the juices of the food to drip away into the fire. This dries out the food and often causes “flare-ups”. Flare-ups are caused when fat, sauce or drippings fall into the fire and ignite it. These flare-ups torch the food, cause an unpleasant taste and result in dry burnt food if you’re not careful. To avoid this, the lid on a conventional grill has to be closed to avoid these flare-ups from happening.
Another issue with the conventional grill grates is the limited types of food that can be grilled. It is impossible to make eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc. as all these foods would simply fall through the grill grate.
Enter the griddle. These are often called “plancha” or “Mongolian grill”. They are solid in design and the steel forms a barrier between the fire and the food. The fire thus never touches the food, making it a much healthier alternative. Because the griddle is solid, all food sizzles to perfection in its own juices. This makes for the best, juiciest food ever off the grill! Hamburgers never tasted this good…. The griddle also allows for a much wider variety of food to be grilled. Breakfast can include pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hash browns. The griddle makes a great lunch with hot dogs or burgers. Dinner is awesome as all veggies can be grilled as well as any sort of fish or meat.
The griddle is a much more versatile way to grill. It offers many advantages and avoids all the typical grilling pitfalls of grilling with a conventional grill grate. Because the lid of the grill can remain open, it is also much more fun and interactive to grill on.
There are many griddles on the market now that also use charcoal or wood as fuel. These griddles add a delicious smokey flavor just like the conventional grill. Because the griddle is so much easier to grill on, everyone can look like a pro, making delicious grilled food every time.
-Michiel Schuitemaker at Arteflame
What is Wagyu Beef and how can I cook it?
Wagyu literally means “Japanese cow.” It’s one of the most luxurious and sought-after types of beef on the earth. Wagyu beef’s fatty, tender, and flavorsome qualities set it apart from every other kind of meat. Pronounced “wah-gyoo,” this beef is legendary for meat connoisseurs and gourmet chefs worldwide.
Wagyu beef is known for its unique marbling, buttery tenderness, and delicate texture. With its high-fat content, it has a melting point lower than your body temperature. We aren’t kidding when we say it melts in your mouth.
The distinct name was given to Japanese cattle breeds that were – and are still – bred in highly regulated environments. And when we say “highly regulated,” we mean these cows practically live like kings.
Japan has four native breeds of cattle, but only one is genetically unique. Unlike any other animal, Wagyu metabolizes fat internally, which creates a fat marbling effect in the muscle tissue. Other types of steak will have a fat cap on the outside.
To acquire the real thing – the rare, luxury version of Wagyu – you need to know where to look and who to trust.
HOW IS WAGYU BEEF RAISED?
Wagyu cattle farmers are very particular about how they raise their cows. It’s the only way to produce such exceptional meat. Over the decades, Japanese farmers have perfected the art of raising cows with evenly marbled fat deposits.
Specialty breeders raise the cows until they’re seven to ten months old then sell them for a high price to cattle farmers. Some cows go for as high as $30,000 at auction. No kidding. Compare that to the best black Angus cows in the U.S. and Australia that go for $3,000 tops.
HOW TO COOK WAGYU STEAK
Once you get your hands on a prime cut of Wagyu beef, we’re sure you’ll want to cook it as perfectly as possible. Here are some pointers:
-Set out your steaks so they thaw and reach room temperature before cooking.
-Cook the steaks as soon as they reach room temperature so they’re fresh and flavorsome.
-If you’re cooking on the stove, use a cast-iron pan to ensure even cooking.
-Don’t add sauces or marinades to overwhelm the inherent flavors of the steak.
-Sear one side at a time, only flipping the meat once.
-Don’t overcook. We recommend cooking your Wagyu steak medium-rare, not well done, so you don’t lose flavor. We also want you to have that melt-in-your-mouth experience everyone talks about.
-Add a sprinkle of sea salt to bring out natural flavors and a little pepper if desired.
-Let the steaks rest for five minutes before indulging.
-Optional: Pair with a medium or full-bodied red wine. Complimentary appetizers include charcuterie boards with cheese, fruit, olives, baguettes, and prosciutto. Try adding side dishes like lightly seasoned roasted vegetables, sauteed mushrooms, and baked potatoes to complete the meal.
Not optional: Enjoy every bite.
-Sal Conca at Holy Grail Steak
How does the reverse sear method work?
Reverse-Searing is a method that flips traditional cooking on its head. Rather than searing meat and finishing in the oven, reverse-searing starts the meat off low and slow and ends with the sear. Barbecue fans have adapted this to their smokers and grills, providing some of the most accurate and flavorful cooks we’ve experienced. This process is the best technique if you enjoy edge-to-edge medium rare, with a perfectly crispy crust.
It sounds like a dream. Should this process be used every time? Steaks and roasts thicker than an inch and a half will benefit from reverse-searing, but it’s largely unnecessary for smaller steaks.
One of the biggest challenges for larger cuts of meat, such as a prime rib roast, picanha, or tomahawk steaks, is the ability to cook them to the perfect temperature throughout. Sous vide has helped, allowing home chefs to slowly cook the meat with an exact temperature over a very long period of time. The texture inside is softer, and the outside doesn’t crisp up as well due to the moisture.
The process of reverse-searing uses the same strategy of sous vides, cooking at a controlled, low temperature for the first phase. Cooking the meat in an oven or smoker also allows the outside surface to dry out, important for creating a very crisp crust when searing. It’s important to monitor the temperature during this phase to ensure the final results are accurate. Generally, you can cook the meat until it’s about 15 degrees below your target temperature. By doing this you will not overcook the meat, period.
Just before the steaks come out of the smoker or oven, you’ll want to be ready for the second phase. To finish over a grill, use a big flame, or with your gas burners at high heat. Sear and flip frequently, creating that crispy crust evenly on all sides. Cast-iron and stainless steel work just as well. Preheat the pan on high with a tablespoon of oil until it’s almost smoking and add the steaks. Sear for about a minute and flip, adding a tablespoon (or two) of butter and basting quickly as it melts. Make sure you sear the sides as well. Finishing the steaks in a pan or over the flames should only take about 2 minutes total.
Resting the meat isn’t as necessary with reverse-sear, as you’ve dodged that requirement due to the low and slow cooking for the first half. Slice, serve, and be extremely happy.
-Brad Prose at Chiles and Smoke
When is the perfect time for adding sauce to my BBQ?
You do not want to waste some of your favorite sauce by making the mistake of putting it on way too early, once your barbecue is ready you might be wondering where the flavor went.
When putting sauce on too early, the flames from your grill will burn the sauce right off the meat, leaving barely a hint of flavor or worse… a burnt flavor. The cooking temperature will also have a huge impact and the type of sugar in the sauce can create a gummy mess or even burn.
It is best to apply the sauce at the end of the cook, just long enough to heat it and cook it without burning it. Many sauces benefit from baking on the meat, and they might even caramelize.
While flame grilling is normally a higher temperature cook, it is best to apply the sauce once the food is almost ready, no more than 1-3 minutes before taking it off the grill. Any sooner and the risk of taking a perfectly cooked piece of meat and turning it into an inedible burnt mess becomes an all too real possibility.
Cooking over indirect heat, “low and slow” around 225-250°F, is a completely different process. The sauce can be added about 30 minutes before removing the meat. One trick used by competition teams is to add the sauce in layers. Apply the sauce to the first side and allow it to cook from 3-5 minutes then flip to the other side and add the sauce there and allow to cook. If necessary, repeat and allow the sauce to finish caramelizing. One or two layers are adequate since discretion is another part of perfecting your sauce technique.
Whether it’s ribs, pulled pork, or chicken breast, let the sauce compliment the meat, not smother it.
Not sure when to add the sauce? Some people just prefer adding sauce after the food is off the grill and cooled down, and there is nothing wrong with that.
In addition to timing, there are some other considerations to BBQ sauce application. If you can, warm the sauce in a pan or microwave before applying. No sense in adding refrigerated sauce to a piece of meat cooking at +200°F. Treat all meat as if it were raw until you are ready to serve. Use a cup or bowl for the sauce that you are applying and then be sure to toss the remainder away. Contaminating your food or friends with potentially hazardous microbes and spores is never a pleasant experience.
Most important: Enjoy The Experience! Every BBQ Master has had bumps in the road. It is the journey that makes the destination worthwhile.
-Darrin Schmidt at The BBQ Authority
What kind of grill should a beginner buy?
Getting started with grilling can be daunting. Nowadays there are a handful of different grill types and dozens of brands that want you to buy their products. With all of the information out there, it can be hard to sift through which grill is the perfect fit for your needs.
For your first grill, my advice is to keep things as simple as possible. The last thing you want to do is overcomplicate your grill setup and make things difficult for yourself as you’re learning a new skill. Plus, you don’t need a fancy grill to make incredible food.
Personally, I’d recommend either a gas grill or a pellet grill for beginners. Both gas grills and pellet grills make it easy to get your grill heated up for a cook. In fact, all it takes is the press of a button or the turn of a dial to get these grills heated up.
Gas grills heat food via flame that comes from gas-fueled burners – which ignite either propane or natural gas. Both propane and natural gas are extremely cheap fuel sources that burn clean. You’d be hard-pressed to find an easier to use type of grill than propane or natural gas grill.
Pellet grills work by igniting wood pellets which heat your grill (electronics are built-in to pellet grills to make setting your temperature and managing your cooks super easy). Wood pellets are essentially capsules of tiny bits of compressed wood that are repurposed for use in pellet grills. The cool part is, the pellets emit a nice amount of smoke as they’re burned in your grill’s firepot, which in turn flavors your food with a classic BBQ flavor.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious or enjoy a little bit of a challenge, you may also consider a charcoal grill. Even though I wouldn’t typically recommend one for a first grill, they’re an excellent class of grill that make tasty food. The flavor you can achieve with a charcoal-fired grill is hard to beat.
The catch is, each time you want to grill you’ll have to build a fire out of charcoal and clean out ashes after you’re done. It takes time to get the fire built all the way up (usually about 25-30 minutes), and if you don’t have your charcoal stacked properly then it might lead to inconsistent cooks. With that being said, it’s incredibly rewarding to nail a cook on a charcoal grill!
In sum, I’d recommend either a gas grill or a pellet grill for most beginners – but if you want an extra challenge, have some time on your hands, or love the smokey flavor in your food, then a charcoal grill is a great choice too.
-Jimmy Watts at Own the Grill
What’s the best way to clean my grill grates?
There are many ways and tools to clean your grill grates but the best way is to use a safe bristle-free alternative and to do it frequently – cleaning before every cook. At the beginning of the grilling season, it is a good idea to give your grill a good thorough cleaning inside and out to improve cooking performance. Check your owner’s manual but it is a good idea to start by removing the grates and give them an overnight soaking in warm soapy water (for cast iron grates just rinse with warm water to avoid rusting) and then for gas grills remove all burnt residue under your burners and clean or replace your grease drip tray. Then for everyday regular cleaning, it is best to use a bristle-free tool like the Q-Swiper BBQ Grill Cleaner before every cook to ensure your cooking surface is free of any potential dangerous steel wire bristles.
These wire bristles can get dislodged and attach to food and then swallowed, which might lead to a visit to the emergency room. Treat your grill grates no differently than stovetop cooking and ensure the grates are clean before you begin your grilling. Cleaning right before you cook with a clean tool or grill cleaning wipe will ensure that no grease, grime, or insect messes are left on the surface. It’s a good idea to first scrape off any leftover burnt food residue then clean in between the grates and then clean the top surface in the direction of the grill grates. Follow these simple steps for a safer, cleaner, and healthier way to clean your grill and enjoy better-tasting food!
-Paul Cira at Proud Grill
Are there any specific grilling accessories or tools that you would recommend for enhancing the grilling experience?
“There are several grilling accessories and tools that can make a significant difference in your cooking results. Here are some recommendations:
- Grill Brush: Essential to keep your grates clean and free of debris. Choose one with sturdy bristles and a long handle for easy scrubbing.
- Grilling Tongs: A good pair of long grilling tongs goes handy to protect you from burning your hands. Consider investing in two pairs of tongs, one for charcoal, one for food.
- Meat Thermometer: A reliable meat thermometer helps ensure that your meat is cooked to the desired temperature, resulting in juicy and safe-to-eat food.
- Grilling Basket: A grilling basket is great for cooking delicate items like vegetables, seafood, and smaller cuts of meat. It prevents them from falling through the grates and makes flipping easier.
- Smoker Box: If you’re into smoky flavors, this is a fantastic addition. It allows you to add wood chips or pellets to your gas or charcoal grill, imparting a delicious smoky taste to your food.
- Grill Gloves: Heat-resistant grill gloves are vital when working with hot grills and open flames. They provide protection and allow you to handle hot items safely.
While these accessories can enhance the grilling experience, it’s important to prioritize safety, cleanliness, and quality ingredients to ensure a memorable and delicious grilling adventure.”
-Danie Huang from FurnitureOkay
Now you know that grilling can be an exciting opportunity to try out new cooking methods that you didn’t previously know, or to give your favorite meat cut a whole different twist flavor-wise and presentation-wise. Remember practice makes perfect! Consider turning your patio into a backyard oasis to enjoy summer time with your friends and family. If you need help when building it; hire a handyman to give you a hand!
Keep in mind that, when it comes to grilling, every single step is necessary to achieve great results. Don’t skip proper grill cleaning nor any food preparation, and don’t forget to have all the right tools, accessories, seasonings, and side dishes to make your meal a memorable, flavorful one.