HOW TO ACHIEVE GRILL MASTER STATUS
Humans have been playing with fire long before the days of bonfires and charcoal grills. Those first, likely “dung-fueled,” flames brought our ancestors light, warmth, protection, and a new & nutritionally-improved way to eat food: by cooking it. Which gave their bodies access to more calories than they were previously getting from a 100% raw diet—playing a pretty significant role in our evolution. Thanks cavemen fam for discovering the grill-n-roast method. We wouldn’t be who we are today without ya.
Cut to, much, much later, when conquers from Spain rolled into the Caribbean and spotted the Arawak tribe doing some OG BBQing called “Barbacoa.” A slow-cooking method used by the local tribe that involved cooking meat on sticks laid across a low-flame fire. This style of cooking eventually made it’s way over to Southeastern America in the 18th century where the process took on delicious sauces and various types of wood used to impart a variety of epic flavours.
Now might be a good time to mention that Grilling and Barbecuing aren’t really the same thing. Grilling is a cooking method done over high, direct heat. While barbecuing is a much slower process, done over low heat, sometimes using the heat from the smoke to help cook the meat. Up until the 40’s most grilling and barbecuing in the US was limited to campsites or picnics in the park. Hop forward a decade though, post-WWll, to when suburban life was in high-gear and backyard grilling was the new, hot trend. All thanks to a guy named George Stephen who redesigned the ash-inducing original grills by creating dome-shaped grills w/ tops that could open and close, and eventually adding vents for air flow. Gas grills came around in the 60’s during a push for people to purchase more natural gas. And since these grills were easier to operate, it became the go-to choice for most. Today, grills come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. But, regardless of what kind of grill you have, it’s a good idea to know the basics.
So, we hit up our Recipe Developer, Alyse for some handy grilling tips and added them below so you can make things like juicy, perfectly grilled bone-in pork chops seasoned with our Chop Shop Butchery WNC Pastured Pork Rub. YUM, right? Check out that recipe + a few other grill-forward dishes here.
Marinades/Rubs: Marinades are great for skinless chicken breasts, fish or pork. But, if you are cooking a steak or skin-on chicken, dry rubs are the best method to ensure crispy skin on a chicken or that beautiful crunchy crust on the outside of a grilled steak
Poultry: When grilling poultry it is very important to generously season with salt at least 4 hours ahead of cooking time and up to 24 hours before. This will develop flavor throughout the meat and help from drying out while cooking.
Veggies: When grilling vegetables make sure to season very well and coat with oil to prevent them driving out. Make sure that the vegetables are large enough to not fall through the grates. Cooking smaller vegetables on a cast iron skillet on the grill is a great option for veggies too!
Preheat: Preheat the grill to make sure there is an even, consistent temperature and that the grate is hot enough to sear the meat and prevent sticking. Sometimes rubbing oil on the grates right before grilling is helpful as well.
Heat Zones: When creating different heat zones, whether you’re cooking over coals, gas or a fire, you want to make sure that you have direct (right over the heat source) and indirect (right outside of heat source) zones that you are using. This can ensure you have the ability to sear your meats or vegetables, but also to cook some things at a lower, more consistent temperature.
Keep it Covered: Make sure to keep the lid covered while you are grilling as much as possible to ensure that the coals stay hot and that the smoky flavor is being imparted onto what you’re cooking. Also, if you are using a charcoal grill, make sure the vents on the top and bottom of the grill are open to create a good air flow to keep the fire hot.
Checking the Temp: Instant-read meat thermometers are the best way to ensure that your food is cooked to a safe temperature, but doesn’t overcook and dry out. Research the ideal internal temperature before grilling and check periodically throughout the cooking process.
GIVE IT A REST! Rest any meat you grill for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will ensure that the meat is juicer and more flavorful.
For more grilling recipes, check out: