While it’s true that anyone can grill – given the proper tools and techniques – there’s an art to crafting the perfect flame-kissed burger or moist BBQ chicken drumstick. Whether you’re attracted to charcoal or you’re a die-hard gas man like King of the Hill’s propane guru Hank Hill, there are key elements to ensuring your food is barbecued like a pro.
Here at BBQ Island, we’ve tested and experimented with dozens of methods to dish up the juiciest, most tender and flavorful meats. Along the way, we’re learned that the art of grilling is as much about what not to do as it is finding the ideal technique and tools. Here are five of the worst mistakes we’ve encountered in our grilling history.
5. Not Cleaning Your Grill
Seriously, folks. Does your grill have greasy residue under the lid, fossilized food residue clinging to the grate, or half-burned charcoal ash piled like sand dunes? We know your mother taught you better than that! It’s amazing how many people don’t take the time to clean their grills prior to a summer barbecue. Leftover ash and charred meat remnants don’t make for tasty BBQ – not to mention they’re a fire danger. Granted, some barbecue experts recommend keeping those nasty leftover bits of food on your grate to protect it. But the idea is that you’ll actually clean the grill before its next use.
4. Premature Grilling
We know you're dying to get started. Your hands are itching to pick up your tongs. Our mouths are watering with you at the thought of herb-crusted pork ribs or juicy tri-tip with a peppered crust. Good grilling can't be rushed, though. Most grill manufacturers recommend preheating for about 15 minutes. This ensures even heating at the right temperature. When grilling over charcoal, it’s tempting to use lighter fluid to help the process along. However, lighter fluid can cause intense flare-ups that up the risk of serious injury. Instead, use a chimney starter to get your grill going.
3. Getting Too Saucy with Your Meat
We're not going to get into the debate over sauce vs. dry rub here. If you do choose to sauce your meat, hold off until later in the cooking process – or even after the meat is ready and plated. The key here is restraint. Excess sauce can cause your fire to flare-up and scorch your meat, or turn gummy and unappetizing if left too long in the heat. Many longtime BBQers prefer to use rubs or seasoning during the grilling process and sauce ribs or slabs of beef prior to cutting.
2. Thinking Bigger is Better
Some things are better the bigger they get: Burgers and beer, for example. Flames are NOT one of these things. While you might look cool standing next to a grill with three-foot flames, your steaks will suffer for it. The secret to good grilling is consistently high temperature, not crazy bonfire flames.
And according to Food Network star and grilling expert Bobby Flay, the #1 grilling mistake you can make is…
1. Micromanaging Your Grill
You don't like it when your boss hovers over your shoulder while you’re trying to work. Neither does your grill. Constant flipping of your meat can cause it to cook unevenly, while flattening with a spatula causes too much fat to drip, leaving your poor meat dry and desiccated. How often should you tend your meat? For years, the rule was "turn once, flip once." Now, chefs have relaxed that rule to incorporate several flips in one grilling session for most meats, which supposedly results in a more tender and flavorful product.
Keep these five "don'ts" in mind during your next summer barbecue and you'll stay on track for juicy, flavorful meats that'll get your guests talking. For more great grilling tips and tools for success, visit BBQ Island today or browse our selection of electric, gas and charcoal grills online.