Spring Into Grilling Season With These Tips From The Experts

Photo Char-broil Gas2Coal Grill.

At times, the winter seems like it would never end. If living in the Northeast, you experienced snow in early April! Luckily, it finally seems like warm temperatures are here to stay and with that, grilling season can officially begin.

Choosing the Right Grill

It’s important to choose the right grill for you. Do you want to grill using charcoal or are you more comfortable using gas? Your best bet is to visit your local Lowes or Home Depot and ask the experts to help you. If you can’t make up your mind, you can always buy a grill that merges both gas and charcoal like Char-broil’s Gas2Coal grill.

This two-in-one grill mixes the ease of a gas grill with the intense smoky flavor provided by a charcoal grill. “Its sleek design features the first-ever patented charcoal tray, which lights coals with the gas burners and eliminates the hassle and mess of lighter fluid,” says Jeff Rosenfeld, senior marketing manager for Char-Broil. “Its quick and easy fuel conversion happens in sixty seconds or less.”

Of course, if you want to go straight charcoal so you don’t have a gas fall-back, you can purchase a grill like the Weber Original 22 Inch Kettle. It’s a classic grill that will never go out of style, but it is much more work than gas alternatives.

The Difference Between Gas and Charcoal Cooking

There are a few key differences between cooking with gas and cooking with charcoal. “First, starting a charcoal grill requires a bit more work; users need lighter fluid to light the coals and the right amount of ventilation in the grill to get them hot enough for cooking,” says Rosenfeld. Although a gas grill has an easier startup, charcoal grills produce a smoky, richer flavor. With the grills that offer both charcoal and gas, grillers can have the best of both worlds: the smoky flavor from charcoal with the quick and easy startup of a gas grill.

There’s been much debate as to whether or not charcoal really makes burgers and steaks taste better. “Yes, some people prefer the taste of food grilled on a charcoal grill but want the speed of cooking on gas,” says Rosenfeld. Experiment with both gas and charcoal cooking systems to see which one you like best. “Grilling takes practice, but remember to have fun.”

Grab the Right Tools

The most important grilling tool is a grill cover. If you’re grill doesn’t come with one, you should definitely invest in one. If you live in a place that receives large amounts of snow fall or rain and you don’t want to have to wheel the grill into a garage or shed, you’ll be happy you have one. It will extend the life of the grill and keep it clean and safe from the elements. You should also purchase a grill brush and clean the grill after every use. “And a good tool set consisting of thongs and spatula, a meat thermometer to check meat temperatures and a tang gage to check your fuel status,” says Rosenfeld. “You don’t want to run-out of gas while you’re entertaining.”

Another company that knows a thing or two about grilling tools is Taylor Precision Products. Taylor has had a successful grilling thermometer program for many years, but they felt that they could stretch their brand into new areas, such as tools and other helpful grilling goods. “Our goal is to create products that solve problems or help make grilling easy, all while cooking delicious food safely,” says Liz Wentland, Taylor Precision Products Vice President of Marketing – Kitchen.

What You Need To Grill

marinating tray

Photo courtesy of Taylor Precision Products.

A dry rub shaker will make life easier when it comes to preparing your meat. Products like dry rub shakers distribute dry marinades to proteins without getting your hands dirty.

You should also purchase products that guarantee the best results while cooking. “Tools to precisely turn or flip, extra capacity skewers to cook foods while keeping the handles off of the flames for easier turning, thermometers to monitor the cooking process,” says Wentland. As well as containers to serve and transport prep and marinated raw meats to the grill in order to avoid cross-contamination with your other foods.

Why It’s Important to Keep Raw Meat Away From the Rest of Your Food

Cross contamination between raw and cook foods is a very relevant concern. “Taylor products have always had an emphasis on food safety during the cooking process, we felt it was important to assist the consumer beyond measurement.” After raw food touches a surface, it must be scrubbed with hot water and soap before using again for cooked foods. Their 3 piece Prep and Marinade Tray is designed to have one contained product that solves a few problems and creates less mess. “The marinade tray is deep enough to hold chicken pieces, and yet has a grooved base so the marinade can freely flow around the protein – and covers more surface of the protein.” The board is designed to hold cooked food, allowing it to rest before cutting. “The channel around the board keeps the liquids from flowing onto counter tops, etc.”

Tips For Grilling Novices

Preheating your grill is essential. “Putting raw food on cool grill grates will cause the food to stick, and steaks will not get the wonderful grill lines,” says Wentland. The best way to tell where the “hot spots” on your grill is to use old pieces of bread. “Place the bread across the entire grill, turn on the burners and check the bread to see which pieces get darker. Then you can determine how to properly place your food when cooking.”

Thermometer

Photo courtesy of Taylor Precision Products.

The temperatures required for food safety depend on the type of protein being cooked.  “Chicken should be cooked to 165F, hamburgers 165F, and steaks depend on the taste preferred by the consumer.”  Pork can be safely cooked to 145F with a three minute rest for medium rare. 

It’s Important to Have a Great Thermometer When Grilling

The only way to ensure properly cooked foods when grilling is with a thermometer.  “Having a deluxe grill is wonderful, and having the best tools create a better grilling environment, but the only way to check if your food is cooked well is with a thermometer.” Many people grill chicken too long and the chicken ends up being dry. “Using a thermometer during the grilling process will help the end result be moist and juicy,” says Wentland. “Steaks are even more difficult because it is great to get a nice char on the steak, but overcooking happens way too often.  Better, safe results can be achieved only with a thermometer.”