BBQ Tips - Cooking with Charcoal Grills
Somehow, the barbecue always brings to mind great friends and great food.
Cooking on the BBQ does call for some preparation, though, so here are a
few BBQ tips to make the experience of using
a charcoal grill easier and safe.
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Keep your barbecue clean. Sure, it's no fun to have to clean, but a clean BBQ
will make the cooking process go more smoothly. Plus all those burnt, greasy bits can
catch on fire, so clean well! Get a good BBQ grill brush
that's specially meant to clean barbecues and the job will be much easier. Another good
tip: heat up the grill for a few minutes and then brush off the particles. They'll come
off more easily.
- Pre-heat the barbecue. Food will cook better and stick less.
- Direct vs indirect grilling: Direct grilling is when the food is placed right
over the heat for cooking. Indirect grilling is when the food is placed away from the
direct heat source and the lid is closed, so that heat is reflected throughout the barbecue,
cooking the food, oven-like. We tend to cook steaks, veggies, and skewers on direct heat,
and things like roasts, ribs, whole chickens, and fish with indirect heat. With
the Big Green Egg,
we find that indirect heat cooks the meat much more evenly and keeps it moist (even when
I get distracted and wander off for too long!).
- Rinse meat before preparing or cooking. Run it under cold weather, pat dry, and
you're good to go with marinading, spice rubs, or putting it on the grill.
- Trim fat and remove skin prior to barbecuing. You don't need a lot of
fat for flavor, and fat can cause flare-ups which can burn food.
- Pre-heat your cooking grate prior to oiling it. Soak a wad of paper towels
with oil, then use tongs
to grasp the paper towels and oil the grate.
- Try not to 'hover' over the meat - keep the lid closed. Meat usually
only needs to be turned once, and it will be juicier if you keep the lid closed.
Open the lid only when you want to turn the meat or if you have to check if it's
done. Keeping the lid closed will also cut down on the cooking time.
- Don't pierce the meat, either before cooking or afterwards - it lets
flavorful juices run out. Use tongs or a spatula
to handle the meat instead.
Use a meat thermometer.
It's easier than guessing when the meat is done.
- Get organized before you start. Have everything you need near the BBQ,
rather than running back inside to get it (I know I've overcooked a couple of
things after going back inside 'for just a minute'!).
- Keep the grill protected from the elements to prevent it from
rusting. Rust-flavored food just isn't all that tasty.
Barbecue Safety Tips
- Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire. Use
lighter fluid if you must... however, the use of a
or an electric charcoal starter
is safer, faster, and doesn't leave any chemical smell on your food.
- Put the electric fire starter away somewhere safe. They get
extremely hot and could easily set something else on fire, so put it on
a fireproof surface away from combustible materials until it's cool again.
- Always use tongs. Trying to turn something with your hand is just
an invitation for an accident. Not only is the food hot, but so is the grill.
- Keep a spray bottle handy... just in case of flare-ups.
- Don't cross-contaminate. In other words, don't put cooked food
on the same plate you used to hold raw food.
- Wash your hands, utensils, and dishes thoroughly. Use soap and
hot water. Don't use utensils, dishes, or your hands on raw food and then
on cooked food, or vice versa, unless you wash first.
- Always marinate in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
- Cook foods to the proper temperatures to kill of harmful bacteria.
Use a meat thermometer to remove guesswork. Cooked foods also need to be kept
hot, or else refrigerated, to prevent bacteria from multiplying.
- Promptly refrigerator all leftovers so that bacteria doesn't
have a chance to grow.
- Be careful when opening the lid. It's hot! If you're barbecuing
at higher temperatures, open the lid just a couple of inches first to let
that initial blast of hot air safely dissipate. Then open it all the way.
- Close all vents to put out the coals. Fire needs air, so if there's
no air flow then the coals will go out.
- Clean out ash regularly to maintain air flow.
- Only clean out the ashes when they're cold! Likewise, only dispose
of them when they're cold (or you might end up setting something on fire...).
We hope you've found these BBQ tips helpful! Check out the list
below as well as the other sections of our website for more specific
tips on barbecuing various types of meat and side dishes.
More BBQ Tips
This website offers tips on how to BBQ
as well as
some of our favorite barbecue recipes
. We barbecue with a charcoal grill
in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg
We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!