Grilling can be a great way to liven up your menu, from juicy steaks and burgers to expertly charred chicken and fish – and don’t forget about the vegetables, fruits, and even desserts!
However, it’s not as easy as slapping a protein down on the grate and setting a timer; to truly master the grill requires finesse, precision, and experience.
Perfect your technique and dazzle your customers with the help of these grilling tips and tricks from Custom Culinary®.
Choosing the Right Meats, and Preparing them Correctly
One of the most important steps before even turning on the grill is selecting the right protein-packed meats. Proteins suitable for quick-grilling will yield to the touch rather than spring back.
Dry rubs and seasonings are a great way to add a punch of flavor to your meats without a ton of extra calories and fat. One easy way to keep your protein extra flavorful is to add salt to your dry rub, which will help the rub penetrate the meat and allow it to season all the way through. But remember, to be effective, you need to apply the rub 12 to 24 hours in advance.
If you're going to grill meat, it is always advisable to let your steak rest outside of the fridge or chiller for at least 30 minutes before cooking – especially for larger and thicker cuts that won't cook as evenly and tend to dry out if cold. And as tempting as it may be to slice the steak when it's fresh off the grill, it's always better to let it rest for a few minutes and allow the meat to retain its juiciness.
Grilling Basics – Preheating, Covering, and Fighting the Urge to Flip
Just like your oven, your grill needs to be preheated in order to get the most out of your cooking. Charcoal grills tend to produce better flavor once the coals have reached their optimum temperature and color, so it’s best to let your grill burn until the coals are covered with a thin coat of gray ash. You’ll know your grill is heated to temperature when you can’t comfortably hold your hand above its grate for more than a few seconds.
Your grill’s lid isn’t just there for protection; in fact, strategic use of the lid will actually help you produce the smoky flavor you desire. What's fun about cooking on a charcoal grill is that different types of charcoal and wood will produce different flavors in your foods.
Although it's tempting to move your food around the grill as it cooks, avoid doing so too much. Let it sit on the grate as long as possible to ensure your food cooks through evenly and achieves nice grill marks.
Next Steps – Grill Zones and Smokers
When working with a grill, particularly one with a large surface that may be cooking multiple different foods at the same time, it’s always a good idea to establish different temperature "zones." Create these zones by keeping one section at a lower temperature, and as different ingredients start to cook through at different times, you can move them to a cooler area to slow down the process.
Charcoal grills with a smoker are great for preparing multiple dishes over long periods of time because they're designed with separate sections and are best for slow-roasted foods such as beef brisket and chicken. Make sure there's enough water and humidity in your smoker before leaving your food to cook inside for hours. Brined and cured products work best in these conditions, while wrapping vegetables in foil also produces great slow-roasted flavor.
A good way to cook lesser cuts of meat is to take it slow and low. Learn how the vents on your grill work so you can better control the temperature, and explore slow cooking techniques such as reverse searing to achieve different flavor profiles.
Go Japanese with the Yakiniku Method
The Yakiniku grilling method is a traditional Japanese technique where skewered meats, vegetables, and fish are slowly grilled to perfection over charcoal. Slow grilling is a great way to build layers of flavor into simple meat and vegetable dishes.
Experiment with Sizzler Plates
The presentation of a meal can be just as important as its taste, because food that looks good will be more appealing and appetizing. For a multi-sensory experience that includes a tempting sizzling sound and enticing aroma, some establishments serve their grilled dishes in sizzler plates. Greet guests in dramatic fashion with hot cast-iron plates served directly to their table.
Tips for Using Sizzler Plates:
- Heat up the plate on low to medium flame for 8–10 minutes before serving
- Always slightly undercook the dishes, since they will continue to cook on hot plate.
- Place the plate carefully on top off a wooden under liner or tray
- Grease the plate with butter
- Gravies and sauces can be poured directly onto the plate; for dry dishes, spread cabbage or lettuce leaves before placing the dish
- If you are making a dessert, chocolate syrup or caramel sauce will create the desired sizzle effect
- Always handle a hot sizzler plate with extreme caution
Now that you’ve got a good understanding of proper grilling technique, and a few advanced tips and tricks up your sleeve, why not put your new knowledge to the test? This delicious Thai Grilled Lamb Chops and Thai Herb Salad recipe from the minds of our expert chefs is a great place to start your journey:
The bold flavors of Thai cuisine shine bright in this Grilled Lamb Chops and Salad combo, an intriguing balance of spicy, herby, and tangy with Custom Culinary™ Master’s Touch™ Jaew Sauce on the side for good measure.
Chef Jomi Gaston
Custom Culinary, Inc.