Whatever your level of experience on the grill may be no one is immune from making mistakes. There are countless little nuances to cooking, and if even a few of them are overlooked your results can be dramatically different from what you were expecting. Most errors made on the grill result from overlooking a small part of a simple technique or process. Below are some of the most common mistakes people tend to make when grilling, and some easy ways to avoid them.
Not bringing your meats to temperature before they go on the grill: That’s right, the pre-cooking temperature of your meat can be just as important as the temperature when you take it off the grill. If you are using previously frozen meat products, make sure that they are completely defrosted before attempting to season or cook them. Also, unless you are trying to sear the outside of a very rare steak, it is a good idea to allow your meat to rest at room temperature for a half an hour or so before placing it on the grill. Allowing your meat to come closer to room temperature will promote even cooking, and reduce the chances of your meat drying out the grill.
Not cleaning your grill properly: Your grill should be cleaned with a wire brush and other grill cleaning supplies every time you use it either before or after each use. Your grill grate should be cleaned while it is hot with a wire brush or other cleaning utensil. Having a properly cleaned grill will prevent sticking, help produce those nice grill lines that we are always looking to create, and insure that no remnants from your last grilling adventure make a cameo on your current one.
Fidgeting with your food: One of my early mentors in the kitchen used to tell me to not play with my food because it would take longer to cook. In other words, don’t poke, prod, or excessively flip your food. Also, if you plan to keep your grill covered, it is very counter-productive to open your lid multiple times to flip something once or twice. A good digital thermometer should aid you in learning how different foods respond to the various settings on your grill.
Putting your food on the grill too soon: This one is charcoal grill specific. If not for the flavor than for your health it is very important to make sure your charcoals are fully lit. Make sure your charcoals are completely grey with all the black burned off before starting to cook with them. If all the black is not completely cooked off, then you are exposing your food to excess carbon and other undesirable chemicals. Also, if at all possible try to avoid using lighter fluid as this can degrade the flavor of your end product, a chimney lighter, or electric charcoal lighter are always a better bet than lighter fluid.
Not allowing your food proper time to rest: Quite often people have the tendency to take their meat from the grill straight to the dinner plate. As temping as it may be, if you allow your meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it you will end up with a juicier more tender final result.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Ives is a freelance writer with several years experience working as a chef in the Mid-Coast of Maine. Originally self-taught, Will received his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Champlain College is Burlington, Vermont. Having a passion for the unknown as well as all things food, Will has spent the better part of the last two years traveling through the Mediterranean, as well as Central and Eastern Europe discovering many of the traditional dishes of the “Old World.”