We wouldn't claim it to be Grilling Week if we didn't know a thing or two about the subject matter. As we share our best grilling recipes, we want you to cook them to utter perfection, so before the week gets too crazy, we're sharing our top grilling tips. Whether you're in the mood for chicken, seafood or even dessert, here's what you need to know about grilling:
1. X Marks the Spot
A great piece of grilled meat isn't complete without gourmet grill marks. But how can you achieve this restaurant-quality look at home?
Make sure your grill is hot, hot, hot (about 400°)! Pat your steaks dry with paper towels, then rub with oil, which heats up on the grate to cleanly sear the meat and ensure that it won't stick when you try to turn it. Cook your meat on the grill for 2 minutes; rotate a quarter-turn and cook for 1 minute more. Flip and repeat on the other side (for medium-rare). Don't fiddle -- that's what messes up the marks!
2. Make your Veggies Fit
Trying to grill smaller veggies like peppers or asparagus, but they keep falling through the grates?
Good news! You don't need to buy a special basket. Just cut the veggies thicker -- e.g., bell pepper halves instead of strips. You can always slice them later if you need smaller pieces. You can also place them perpendicular to the grate. When you're cooking a variety of vegetables, you should group them on the grill according to cooking time, not all in one mixed bunch; this makes it easier to remove them when they're done.
3. How to Test for Doneness
Implement these four techniques on how to check your grilled chicken for doneness on any type of meat:
Prick with a Knife
Jut the tip of a sharp paring knife into a juicy part of the chicken, such as its thigh joint. If the juices have a pink tint, keep cooking. The meat is safe to eat when the liquids run clear.
Use a Thermometer
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, pressing it into the center of the flesh (do not hit bone). The meat is safe to eat at 165°; take it off the grill when it registers 160° to account for carryover cooking.
Poke with Your finger
Practice makes perfect with this no-tools-required technique. Using your index finger, tap the thickest area of the meat. If it springs back to your touch (and doesn't mush under your finger), chances are good it's cooked through.
Yank on a Joint
Grab the end of a leg with your fingers or a set of grilling tongs and tug it away from the body. When the joint separates easily, the chicken is ready.
4. You Can Grill Just About Anything... Including Your Condiments!
Don't limit yourself to steak corn on the cob. Anything you would normally cook can be thrown on the grill instead. Our Charred Tomato-and-Red-Pepper Ketchup adds a smoky touch to the classic sweet and savory condiment.
5. Just Because It's Grilled Doesn't Mean It Can't be Chilled
Grilling doesn't just add heat-- it also adds an insanely savory smoky flavor that can't be achieved with any other cooking method. Even after your food has cooled, the flavor will last, so start using your grill for recipes that are normally served chilled or at room temperature, like our Grilled Curry Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper and Arugula Salad with Yogurt Dressing.
6. Sweet + Savory = a Grill's Best Friend
One of our favorite things to grill during the summer is fruit, and since grilling already infusing so much savory flavor, why not think outside the dessert realm and pair your sweet grilled fruit with savory flavors, like herbs and spices? Try our Grilled Pears with Whipped Mascarpone, which work beautifully as a side dish or light dessert.
There you have it! Our best tips for grilling your favorite meats, veggies and fruits all summer long. Now get to it!