Top 10 Grilling Tips For Our Residents Living in Norwalk Apartments
It’s summertime in Norwalk, CT and you know what that means. In addition to the sights and sounds of nature at its best, you’ll be treated to the blissful taste of barbeque, courtesy of a grill near you.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro (no pun intended), these 10 Grilling Tips are sure to spark your fire and help you make some of the best BBQ you’ve ever served. Thanks to the latest spike in plant-based alternatives, veggie-lovers can enjoy this list too!
Let’s get cooking.
1) Preheat the Grill
– One of the most common malpractices made when embarking on the perfect grill is all too easy to forget. Aside from the obvious reason: an uneven cook, by preheating the grill for at least 15 minutes beforehand not only stabilizes the internal temperature of the grill but also kills whatever bacteria is hanging around since its last use.
After ensuring that the grill grate is cleared of debris and in working order, set the flame to medium heat and let it burn with the hood open for anywhere from 30 – 60 seconds. If everything looks good, shut the hood and occupy the time by arranging your primary setup nearby: cutlery, plates, covers, skewers, meats, veggies, etc.
Toward the end of the 15 minutes, you’ll want to…
2) Select Your Hot-Spots
– Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, it’s always good to have specific “hot-spots” on the grill to cook some of the tougher meat. These “hot-spots” are usually dependent on the grill (and the chef). However, generally, you can follow these rules of thumb.
Gas: Admittedly easier than constructing a charcoal pyramid, if you’re using a gas grill, all you need to do is set one of the burners on high (your “hot-spot”) and the other on medium. Though the process is similar, there’s not much to be done about the absent charcoal flavor. Gas grills tend to provide a particularly potent BBQ flavor of their own. Either way, you won’t leave hungry.
– Prior to grilling, you’ll want to make sure that you add a non-stick grease or oil to the grill grate. This should be done no more than a few minutes in advance to placing the food. Adding a non-stick grease or oil helps to ensure that your meat doesn’t fall apart or “chip” away during the cook and (obviously) keeps it from sticking to the grate. However, be precise. If you apply the non-stick too early, it’ll burn away, and you’ll be chiseling meat from the grill grate for the rest of the evening.
Also, be wary of over application. If you over apply, you may end up standing beside an open flame.
4) Season Gently
– This wouldn’t be a proper list, without mentioning the star performers. No matter what you’re cooking, marinated or not, you’ll want to be sure to season your meat with an easy hand. Overapplying seasoning can dry out the meat before it’s cooked and applying them too harshly may hinder the texture of your food, making for an unexpectedly rigid final product. Worse yet, you won’t know until you’re chewing it and most people are too polite to say anything. They’ll just fill up on sides.
5) Time and Temperature
– Don’t fall into the trap of trusting your gut unless, of course, you’ve got the experience to back it up. If not, you’ll want to invest in a cooking thermometer to track the internal temperature of your meat. Likewise, you want to ensure that it’s been cooking for the appropriate amount of time. Never be fooled by a beautiful color or an awesome aroma. If you pull the meat too soon, you run the risk of serving it raw. Start the clock once the hood closes and keep a close eye on the time. Overcooked meat is not much better than the alternative.
6) Direct Heat V. Indirect Heat
– Though thoughts and styles vary, you should always be dealing with (at least) these two dynamics. Direct heat to sear the outside. Indirect heat to cook the inside. How you utilize these areas is up to you and your tastes.
As a general rule, chicken and veggies should spend most of their time in indirect heat. Red meats are trickier, as they’re subjective to taste. However, most of the time, they’ll require direct heat at first, to give them that classic barbeque glow. Depending on the guest, this may be the only heat it needs.
7) Be Patient. Keep the Lid Closed.
– Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of taking one too many unnecessary peeks at our meal to be. Though it’s nearly impossible to resist the temptation, when you open the hood of the grill too often, you’re allowing the majority of your collective heat to literally vanish into thin air–making for a tumultuous and often bewildering cook.
Instead, check your meat sparsely and rely on your timer, thermometer, and digital alarms for permission to take a look. Your discipline will be rewarded with a perfectly cooked final product.
In the interim, you can focus on preparing the sides and extras. If they’re simple enough, you may even be able to time the tasks to distract you until the grill requires your attention. Remember, you should be manipulating the meat as little as possible to preserve the juices, flavor, and grill marks.
– Ever open the grill, only to be welcomed by a flame that sears off your eyebrows? A rabid flame can quickly change your dinner plans if it isn’t dealt with properly. Despite the hassle, when dealing with a grill, this situation is almost unavoidable.
To manage the flame, move any meat from the hot zone to keep the excess grease from worsening the fire. After a minute or two, the fire should die down. If not, your next course action should be to deprive the fire of oxygen. This can be done by closing the hood, along with any vents on or under the grill. Once the flame dies down, you can proceed as planned.
If all else fails, you can always douse out the fire with a conservative spritz of water or (as a last resort) extinguish the flame completely with salt or baking soda.
9) Know When it’s Done
– Arguably, the most important step in the entire process, you want to make sure that your food is fully cooked and meets all of your expectations. Because of this, it’s necessary to check the batch before removing it all from the grill.
As an example, if you’re cooking hamburgers or chicken, you’ll want to remove the thickest slab from the grill and gently cut into its center with a fork and a sharp knife.
For chicken, you’ll want to check near the bone. For hamburgers, check the core. If it’s undercooked, place the slab back on the grill, close the hood, and set a timer. You should be periodically checking your meat every 10 minutes or so from then on.
10.) Give it a Rest
– Once the meat is cooked, don’t rush to serve it up to guests. You want to give the juices a chance to settle back into the meat. Rather than plating your BBQ, place the meat on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. This will allow air to circulate beneath the meat, preserving your crispy grill marks while you wrap up the show.
11.) Skewers Are Fun
– If you’re cooking anything from bite-sized meats and veggies to sausages, or hot-dogs, there are few easier ways to get the perfect grill than with these lifetime BBQ companions. Skewers allow for fast and easy cooking, while minimally tampering with the food. In addition to this, it provides some space saving organization to your BBQ spread.
12.) Clean the Grill While it’s Hot
– When it’s all said and done, you want to be sure to clean up your mess. Whether you’re using our on-site grill or your own, it’s important to leave as little behind as possible. In addition to being courteous, this helps to prevent attracting some uninvited guests that include ants, flies, rodents, or anything else that may seek to interrupt the occasion.
An easy method of doing this, if you don’t have a grill brush, is to cut an onion and use it to scrub the grate. Always make sure to use a pair of tongs (or similar) to keep your hands and arms as far away from the heat as possible. This should remove much of the remaining debris with relative ease.
You can also sprinkle a bit of crushed red pepper across the bed of the grill, to keep any unwanted pests from picking through the ‘leftovers’ once you’re done.
Now that you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to take advantage of your apartment amenities and hit the summer in Norwalk with some of the greatest BBQ that it’s ever seen. Always remember to cook safely and never underestimate the power of fire. With all that said, I could use a burger.
Keep it Smokey,
– Your Friends at The Curb