Maybe it’s part of our primitive nature, but people like to pride themselves when it comes to their cooking skills over an open flame. (And nobody ever minds being called the “grill master.”) However, what you don’t want is for people to think you have no idea what you’re doing. Here are a few simple tricks to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Use Bread To Learn Where The Grill’s Hot Spots Are
Every grill is different, which means that every grill’s hot spots are located in different areas. This is important to know so you don’t end up either burning or undercooking food because it wasn’t placed on the right section of the grill.
To find out where these places are, lay down pieces of fresh bread on an equal amount of heat and flip after one minute. You should be able to clearly tell which areas are the hottest depending on the char on the bread.
Use A Muffin Tray To Hold Your Condiments
Most grill masters will probably admit that they’ve never used a muffin tray in their life, but it turns out that they’re the ones missing out.
Muffin trays can also serve as the perfect holders for your condiments, such as pickles, onions, tomatoes, or whatever you are working with. Not only does it keep them all together, but it saves you from having to wash multiple dishes! And we all know that’s always for the better.
Check Your Propane Levels With Hot Water
If you’re using a propane grill, there are few things less embarrassing than running out of fuel because you didn’t know how much propane you had left in the tank. Luckily, there’s an easy way to check.
All you have to do is get a glass of hot water and pour it on the side of the tank. Find the point where it goes from being hot to cold, and the cold area is where the propane is located.
Double-Up On Skewers
Although when most people envision a shishkebab or some other skewer dish, they think of only one skewer. However, only using one is considered a rookie move by another that’s made their fair share of skewers in their day.
The key is to use two of them, so you can turn them on the grill with ease and without having to worry about the meat, vegetables, or whatever you have on them from spinning all over the place.
Make Diamond Grill Marks
Something you might notice at steakhouses is that the meat comes out with small diamond grill marks. Thankfully, this is something you can do too with almost no effort. Play your meat at 10:00 on the grill and leave it for half of the time you intend to grill that side.
When half the time is up, without flipping the meat, turn the meat to 2:00 and leave for the rest of the remaining time. Then, repeat the process on the other side.
Roast Peppers With Ease
Unsurprisingly, the process of making roasted peppers is exactly what it sounds like and can be done by anyone. Place your peppers directly over the heat on the grill and cook until all of the sides are completely charred.
Don’t worry, you didn’t burn them. Next, place them in a bowl that’s covered with saran wrap until they are cool. Once they are, the moisture that’s been created in the pepper will allow the skin to slide right off by just using your fingers.
Always Season Your Meat Ahead Of Time
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make while operating the grill is forgetting to season your meat before cooking it. It’s recommended that you season at least an hour before grilling to lock in the flavor but no less than 30 to 40 minutes because it will just suck out the moisture.
Also, it’s important always to use a little more than you think because a decent amount usually falls off during the cooking process, and it will help you develop a nice crust.
Know Your Temperature Guidelines And Use A Meat Thermometer
While some people say they can tell if a piece of meat is done by just looking at it or touching it, don’t be a hero. Know at what temperature different types of meat should be reached before serving and use a meat thermometer to be as exact as possible.
There’s nothing worse than somebody getting sick or overcooking an expensive piece of steak because you had too much pride to use a thermometer. Always better safe than sorry in this case.
Grill Fish On Slices Of Citrus
Unless you’re extremely confident at what you’re doing and have the proper equipment to do so, grilling fish can be nerve-racking. Because it’s so delicate, you can overcook it and risk having it stick to the grates with no clean way of removing it.
To prevent this, you can grill your fish on top of lemon slices. Not only does it ensure that your fish stays intact, but it also infuses the fish with citrus, which many people already add to it!
Use An Object To Shape Your Burgers
Having uniform burgers in both shape and size is helpful, especially when making many at once because they will all cook at the same rate. This is hard to accomplish just using your hands, so find something else you can use without spending money on a burger press.
Something along the lines of an old condiment jar or something else circular will do just fine and produce burgers that are close enough in weight and shape to all cook the same.
Use A Cast Iron Skillet
A good cast iron skillet is a piece of equipment that everyone who frequently uses a grill should own. Because the whole thing can go right on top of the grates, it’s great for cooking anything that you might worry about falling between the cracks, such as mushrooms, sliced peppers, asparagus, or whatever.
Plus, you can even get fancier and cook other things like pizza, bacon, eggs, or anything else that your heart may desire.
Cook Your Meat When At Room Temperature
Hopefully, most people are aware that it’s not a good idea to put your meat on the grill straight from the freezer, not everyone knows that all meat, especially steak, should be at room temperature before coming into contact with the fire.
This takes a little bit of preparation if you need to defrost something or just bring it up to room temperature from the refrigerator. Doing this helps ensure a nice and even cook so there are no surprises at the end.
Put Ice Cubes In Your Burger
If you’ve ever had your grilled burgers come out drier than the Sahara Desert, this is a simple trick for you. When first putting your patties on the grill, take a small piece of ice (or butter for extra flavor) and place it on top of the middle of the paddy.
Then, when the burger is being cooked, the ice or butter will melt, evenly distributing moisture to the whole paddy. Now, you’ll know nobody was lying when they say you make a juicy burger.
Think Outside Of The Box
For a lot of people, steaks, burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, is what’s usually on the menu when they fire up the barbecue, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
If you really want to impress your, guests, whip up a dessert that involves the use of the grill. One of the easiest and tastiest things you can do is grill some fruit like peaches, strawberries, or watermelon and put it on top of some ice cream or eat it as is!
Let Your Meat Rest
Although your first instinct might be to cut into a freshly grilled piece of meat to see the finished product, patience is the key here. It’s crucial that after you remove your food from the heat that you let it sit between 5 to 10 minutes at room temperatures.
If you don’t you risk all of the juices coming out, ruining all of your hard work. Letting your meat rest takes no effort and can make all the difference.
Perfect Your Buns
While there’s nothing technically wrong with using a hot dog or hamburger bun straight from the bag when assembling your meal, you could do better.
To really take your hot dog or hamburger to the next level, spread a generous amount of softened butter on it and throw it on the grill until the edges get crispy. Not only does this add more texture, but also flavor, and prevents your buns from getting soggy when you start adding your toppings.
Don’t Overwork Your Meat
When some people get behind the grill, they may feel the need to press their meat down onto the grates or flip it countless times to make it seem like they know what they’re doing. Don’t do this.
Pressing your meat down does nothing except squeeze out the juices and lose seasoning. Furthermore, flipping the meat over and over won’t allow it to cook evenly, and you won’t be able to achieve those signature grill marks we all love at barbeques.
Always Preheat Your Grill
Even though you may be anxious to get your food on the grill, it’s essential to always give your grill some time to get hot before you start doing anything.
For a grill on high heat, a general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand four inches from the grill for more than three seconds, five seconds for medium heat, and eight to ten seconds for low. By doing this, you’ll know your food is going to cook the second you put it on the grill.
Ditch Your Dirty Grill Brush
Unfortunately, when you see someone cleaning the grill in preparation for use, they’re usually using a grill brush that has been collecting dust in the garage and is nastier than the grill.
So, don’t bother one at all. Instead, ball up a piece of tin foil and, using your tongs as the handle, clean the grill as you would with a brush. Another tip for cleaning the grates is to cut an onion in half and rub the grates, which will get the job done too.
Use An Egg Carton To Light Your Coals
If you’ve ever used a charcoal grill, you may have learned that you may not get all of your coals lit on the first try. Not only is this embarrassing, but it can be frustrating to the point that you reach for the lighter fluid, which can affect the taste of your food.
Instead, fill an empty egg carton with coals and light the carton on fire. This is a sure-fire way to make sure your coals are lit without the use of lighter fluid.
How To Make A Cheaper Cut Of Meat Taste Delicious
Not everyone can afford expensive cuts of meat, but that doesn’t mean the cheaper cuts will taste bad. There are some things you can do to give them better flavor while cooking.
This may sound simple, but adding some butter while cooking the meat in a cast-iron skillet can add a lot of great flavor. All you need to do is brown the butter in the skillet and spoon it on top of the meat when it’s cooked.
Make Sure To Score Meat
Someone who isn’t familiar with the culinary term “scoring” should know that it simply means to cut slits on the surface of a piece of food. It’s commonly done on raw meat to let steam escape.
Scoring prevents the skin from shrinking and pulling away from the meat. Doing this to both meat and fish is a great way to allow marinades to absorb during the cooking process. It’s important to remember that the slits shouldn’t be more than a quarter of an inch deep.
Tired Of Barbecue? Try A Wok!
While some may think it’s best to cook meat or seafood on the barbeque, there are actually so many different ways to prepare it. One way to give it some added flavor and flair is to get out your wok for a stir fry.
There are endless possibilities for a stir fry with a wide array of vegetables, seasonings, sauces, herbs, noodles, and more. From a nutritional standpoint, it’s also one of the healthier ways to consume meat and seafood.
Add Some Canned Tuna To Your Recipes
One item that is relatively cheap at the grocery store is canned tuna. It comes in large packs and single cans don’t usually cost more than $1.50.
Instead of eating the canned tuna on its own, it can be added to dozens of meals. You can try it as a topping for a salad, using it in a sandwich, or stirring it into some pasta. The tuna can jazz up the meal while not breaking the bank.
Finding The Right Cut Of Fish
Some consumers have been buying the wrong cuts of fish at the supermarket. There are certain cuts that usually end up tasting better and those actually go for a cheaper price.
Ashley Brewer from Home Hacks suggests buying the steak-cut and skin-on cuts of salmon, halibut, cod, and other fish because this kind of cut helps retain moisture. “Since they haven’t been as cut or processed, they are often cheaper than other cuts,” said Brewer.
Don’t Throw Out This Part Of The Fish
It’s common to chop off certain parts of the fish that wouldn’t necessarily go into a meal. The trimmings, including the head, are actually parts that you should consider saving.
These parts are perfect for making delicious soups and chowders such as the red curry salmon chowder that’s pictured. This means you could potentially get two or more meals from one cut of fish. Also, grocery stores will sometimes sell the trimmings for really cheap prices.
Get To Know Your Local Seafood Seller
If the seafood options at your grocery store seem a bit overpriced or not that fresh, then there is another way to get it into your kitchen. One thing to do is to get to know a seafood seller in your area.
These people know where the best seafood comes from and can find it for a reasonable price. If you’re not sure who to ask, consider going to a seafood restaurant and talking with the owner to see who sells them their seafood.
Let Meat Rest After It’s Cooked
Meat experts should know the golden rule when it comes time to eat. It’s crucial that meat is left out to rest before everyone digs in.
If you eat meat without giving it the proper time to rest, it may turn out tough, chewy, and not have all of its flavor. Each type of meat has a different specified time for how long it should rest. For example, steaks need five minutes per inch and roasts need 10 minutes per pound.
Keep Meat At Room Temperature Before Cooking
Not everyone knows all the rules of food preparation, but it’s important to learn a few before cooking with raw meat. Home Hacks suggests letting the meat settle at room temperature before cooking.
This is especially crucial when using grass-fed beef or lean cuts of meat because they have a lower fat content. It’s recommended to let the meat sit out for about a half-hour if it was refrigerated and at least a couple of hours if it was frozen. This will lead to juicier and more evenly-cooked meat.
Ginger Helps Tenderize Meat
Not only is ginger one of the healthiest superfoods, but it a great ingredient to incorporate into your meat dishes. Ginger is loaded with nutritious antioxidants, which can fight chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, lung disease, and heart disease, and it can slow down aging.
It can also help tenderize tough cuts of meat by using its proteolytic enzymes. These break down to make the meat a lot more juicy and tender.
Why You Should Put Mayonnaise On Fish
Knowing how to cook fish is crucial to locking in all of its flavor, moisture, and texture. One simple ingredient that can help with all three is mayonnaise.
Instead of just using mayonnaise straight from the jar, try mixing it with some herbs, spices, vegetables, cheese, and more to get in some extra flavor. The oil from the mayonnaise works to keep all of the moisture in the fish to prevent it from drying out.
Try A Salt Rub On Steak
Steak can be one of the toughest pieces of meat to prepare, especially certain cuts such as chuck steak, flat iron steak, or flank steak. These need to be properly tenderized, so they don’t become tough and chewy.
Adding a salt rub before cooking can make most steaks more tender and enhance the flavor. First, coat each side of the steak with a thick layer of coarse salt. Then, let it sit out at room temperature for one hour per inch of thickness. Finally, wash the salt off the meat and get to cooking.
Bring Out The Slow Cooker
Sometimes the only option at the grocery store is to buy the cheaper cuts of meat. While they might not be the best parts to purchase, there are ways to make them taste great.
Slow cookers will come to the rescue with those cheaper cuts of meat. The process of slow cooking will allow the meat to get a lot more flavor and have a texture that almost melts in your mouth. Try adding in some vegetables, spices, or a sauce of your choice to give the meat even more flavor.
Don’t Let Umami Go Unnoticed
If you find yourself getting in a slump by cooking the same seafood and meat recipes, there may be a missing ingredient that can make the food worthwhile. Dishes can be taken to another level with umami.
There are five flavors including bitter, sweet, salt, sour, and umami. Umami tastes savory and is best used for meat and protein. There are dozens of spices and sauces labeled as umami, but other foods can make the food have umami flavor, such as blue cheese or mushrooms.
Baking Soda Can Be Used To Cook Meat
Baking soda can be a perfect ingredient to utilize when you’re preparing meat. It can tenderize it to give it a perfect texture everyone will enjoy.
According to Tasting Table, baking soda alkalizes the meat’s surface, which makes it harder for proteins to bond. This causes the meat to stay tender while it’s cooking. Start by rubbing the meat with baking soda. Then, let it rest for about three to five hours in the refrigerator. Before cooking, rinse off the baking soda.
Get More Out Of Your Meat By Dry Aging
Serious Eats says, “Dry aging is the process by which large cuts of beef are aged for anywhere from several weeks to several months before being tripped and cut into steaks.” Dry aging can make meat develop a ton of flavor, but also keep it tender and fresh.
The enzymes from the meat will break down the muscle tissues, which gives it a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Some may think that this can only be done in special dry-aging rooms, but it can also be done at home. Making the meat last for weeks or months on end can save you a lot of money.
Do You Know How To Sous Vide Your Meat?
Something that many high-end restaurants do to get the most out of their meat is using the sous vide cooking method. The French term translates to “under vacuum” because the meat is cooked in a water bath inside a tight plastic seal.
This allows you to cook the meat at a precise temperature, lets the meat cook with all of its juices to stay moist and tender, and the meat won’t lose its volume. Sous vide also takes a long time, so it’s great for those who want to get other things done while cooking.
Canned Fish May Be The Way To Go
If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have enough money for some fresh fish, there are other inexpensive options. Many types of fish are available in cans or jars for a cheaper price.
Salmon, herring, tuna, and more can usually be found in these forms at the grocery store with prices that won’t take you over budget. These can be delicious on their own, but are also great as additions to other meals such as salads and sandwiches.
How To Prepare Frozen Seafood
There’s an art to making sure seafood is cooked properly. If it’s not, it can come out tasting funky or with a peculiar texture.
It’s important to let frozen seafood thaw for at least 30 minutes before it’s cooked. Cook Smarts recommends letting it thaw for 24 hours, but not everyone has the time to do that. Taking the frozen seafood and putting it directly on the heat can cause it to dry out and cook too quickly.
Want A Fun Way To Get Dinner? Go Fishing
Those who want to skip a trip to the grocery store may want to go a different route to get their fish. Instead, it might be a fun idea to try and catch your own.
First, make sure you find an area of water where it’s legal and you can spend your day fishing for the best ones. It might even give you a feeling of great accomplishment knowing that you caught your own food.