It’s almost summertime and that means barbecue season is in full-swing. There seems to be a perpetual barbecue-scented fog hanging over many neighborhoods these days, and you may be inspired to do some grilling, yourself!
Whether you’re a newbie to the BBQ or a griller extraordinaire like TOL-favorite Cindy Lou’s BBQ, the following tips and reminders will help start you up.
How to BBQ – “Charred” vs “Cooked”
Give me a steak and I’ll show you a meal that looks like it went through the Sixth Circle of hell (that’s the one with all the fire), but I always check to make sure the cook is all the way through to the center. It’s a common mistake to see a finished outside and think the meat is done to the center, but the two don’t always correlate.
Check your chow with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s ready for serving (interior temperatures should be 160°F for beef and pork, and 165°F for poultry). If you are sans thermometer, you can just cut a piece open and visually inspect the center.
Do NOT Overload the Grill
I get it. You have a lot of people over and they all want food. You’re tempted to load as much food on the fire as possible so they can all eat at the same time.
Don’t do that.
Overloading the grill causes meat to take longer to cook and can cause uneven heat distribution. Take it easy, put an even and moderate amount of helpings on the fire, and grill responsibly. Then assure your friends and family that your favorites will eat first.
On second thought, probably don’t do that last part, either.
Basting is NOT Marinating
Even I had this confused until recently. Marinating, or soaking the meat for up to several hours before cooking, breaks down fatty tissues and allows the meat to both absorb and retain more moisture. Basting, in contrast, is done towards the end of the grilling process. Basting directly before cooking, or basting too soon during cooking, can cause sauce to caramelize and burn.
Never Pressure Your Meat
Your grilled meats like being the voluptuous, juicy specimens that they are. Never press your meats down onto the barbecue with a spatula or any other utensil. This is not how to properly sear your meat and it squeezes out the juices, and you can’t exactly put juices back into the meat once they’re gone.
Limit Your Flips
Similarly to pressing the meat, over-flipping can cause meats to dry out and become difficult to chew and enjoy. Ideally, a single flip is all you should need. Cook one side, turn, cook the other, and boom. Molto bene. Just make sure the center is cooked to temperature.
Possibilities are Endless!
There is insane variety to the meals that can be cooked on a barbecue. Meats, vegetables, sandwiches, even pizza! So experiment, see what works, laugh at what doesn’t, and enjoy your summer!
If you are still not ready to master the BBQ and want to leave it to the pros, we highly recommend Cindy Lou’s BBQ & Catering.