Cooking on a charcoal grill takes a little bit longer, but many people prefer charcoal over gas because it gives the food more flavor. Grilling is an art form, and there is something extra special about taking time to cook with charcoal. However, there are a few tricks to grilling with charcoal that should help you improve the quality of your grill and food. Beginners should know these things before lighting the coals:
Temperature is everything: Make sure to preheat your oven at least 15 minutes before putting the food on the grill in order to kill any bacteria that may have been on the grill. Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact which improves flavor.
When to brush: It is best to wait to brush the grill until it is hot, simply because it makes it easier to remove debris. For best results, use a long-handled wire grill brush when performing this task. Also, do not forget to brush the grill immediately after use.
Oiling: This may seem like a tedious task, but oiling your grill before cooking will prevent the food from sticking to the surface. The safest way to oil a hot grill is to soak a paper towel in vegetable oil, pick it up with tongs and rub it over the surface of the grill rack. Do NOT use cooking spray on a hot grill.
Marinate, Marinate, Marinate: Yes, marinating your food before grilling it does give it more flavor, but that is not the most important reason for doing so. “Muscle meats” like steak, chicken and fish may contain harmful things that could be cancerous, and marinating these meats reduces the formation of this matter by as much as 99% according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. In short, marinate your meat and you will have healthier, more delicious food.
Rest: Keep in mind that the meat is still cooking for a couple of minute after it is taken off the grill. Let your finished product sit on a clean platter covered in foil for about 10 minutes; this will let the juices redistribute evenly.
Grilling with charcoal can be a very rewarding process. As long as you pay attention to detail and practice good safety technique, you will not want to wait until the next meal to fire up the grill. For more information about grilling with charcoal, please visit our friends at www.eatingwell.com.