Grilling Hints & Tips


If you haven’t grilled before, these hints and tips will help you grill safely with the best, juiciest, most savory results. Whether you use charcoal, propane, or natural gas grills, there are steps to take before you start cooking. 

Grills should be well away from buildings, brush and overhanging trees. Never grill inside your home, or in an open garage. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for lighting gas and charcoal grills.  A charcoal fire takes 30-45 minutes to reach the proper cooking heat after you light it. You can tell when the coals are at proper cooking temperature because gray ash will form evenly over the briquettes.

Charcoal Grills

Charcoal grilling presents  a learning challenge.

Here are some tips.

The number of briquettes you use depends on the size of your grill, the amount of food you will be cooking, weather conditions and cooking time. As a general rule, plan on using about 30 briquettes to cook 1 pound of meat. A five-pound bag contains 75 to 100 briquettes. Have enough briquettes to cover the grill pan in a single layer, stack them for lighting or remove to place in a chimney starter. 

To light charcoal with the pyramid method, stack the charcoal into a pyramid shape. Soak the charcoal with at least 1/2 cup of lighter fluid (NEVER use gasoline). Wait a few minutes then light the charcoal with a long handled match or fire starter. As the coals begin to burn and ash forms, arrange them with long handled tons into a single layer. Don’t squirt lighter fluid onto hot coals, the fluid can catch on fire and burn back at you.

Chimney starters they look like a coffee can with a handle, It lets you get a really good fire going with no chemicals. Place crumpled newspapers in the bottom portion of the starter. Remove the rack from the grill and place the chimney starter in the bottom. Fill the top half of the starter with charcoal. Then light the newsletter through holes in the bottom of the starter. The fire will draw up through the starter, lighting the charcoal. Leave the chimney starter where it is, and in about 20-30 minutes the coals will be ready. With a heavy long oven mitt, carefully empty the coals into the grill pan. Arrange the coals into an even layer with long tongs.

Electric starters are easy to use. They are plug-in heating elements that also start the fire with no chemicals. Place the electric starter in the grill pan and stack the charcoal briquettes over it in a pyramid shape. Plug in the starter, making sure you are using a heavy-duty extension cord. Ash will begin to form on the coals after 8-10 minutes. Then unplug the starter, remove it with tongs, then arrange the briquettes with tongs into an even layer.

Propane And Gas Grills

Gas grills use lava rocks, the rocks are heated by the gas flame and cook like charcoal. Keeping the rocks clean is about the only task you’ll have with a gas grill. If there is a buildup of grease on the rocks you will have flare-ups during cooking which can burn the food. Turn the burner to high for five minutes after you’re finished cooking to help burn off grease and other drippings. Occasionally rearrange and turn the lava rock, replace the lava rocks when they don’t look clean, and start to break apart. Do not stack lava rocks. They should be only one layer deep on the grate.

Cooking Methods Indirect And Direct

Grilling uses two different cooking methods: indirect and direct heat. In direct heat cooking, food is placed on the cooking rack directly over hot coals. Indirect heat is used for more delicate foods and for longer cooking times used for larger cuts of meat, as when you’re barbecuing a turkey. The grill is always covered when cooking with indirect heat.

For two-level charcoal grilling, or a hot side and a cooler side, arrange 3-4 layers of coals on one side of the grill; just 1 layer on the other. This method will let you control temperature as you cook. Sear foods on the hot side, move to the cooler side to cook through.

For indirect cooking on a charcoal grill, place an equal number of briquettes on each side of the grill pan, leaving an empty space in the center. Light the briquettes. When you’re ready to cook, place a drip pan between the coals and add water to the pan to a level of 1/2″. Place the food over the drip pan and cover the grill. You will need to add 5-6 briquettes to each side of the pan as needed to maintain even heat, about every 45 minutes.

For indirect cooking on a dual burner gas grill, set the drip pan on the lava rocks on one side of the grill and add water to 1/2″. Preheat the other burner on high for 5-10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to medium, then put the food on the rack over the drip pan and cover.

For indirect cooking on a single burner gas grill, preheat the grill on high for 5-10 minutes. Turn the temperature down to low, place a foil baking pan on the rack. Place food in the pan, cover and cook.

Grilling Tips And Safety

Never leave the grill alone when you are cooking food. Flare ups can quickly become a fire, Once you start, stay there and pay attention!

Adding wood chips and chunks can add marvelous flavor to your food. Soak mesquite, alder, hickory and pecan chips for one hour before scattering over the hot coals. Sauces containing sugar and fat will cause flareups and the food may burn, apply sauces and glazes during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Grilling times are affected by the weather.

To lower the cooking temperature, raise the cooking rack, close vents

To raise the temperature, lower the cooking rack.

If the weather is cold, Grilling will take longer.

Wind will make the fire hotter.

On a humid day, the coals will burn slower.

Cold and thicker foods will take longer to cook.

Hardwood fires will burn hotter than charcoal briquettes.

The most reliable way to test when food is done is by using a thermometer.

Move the food around on the grill for the most even cooking results.

Piercing the food with a fork will release juices that you want in the food.

Clean Up

After you’re done grilling, close the grill cover and turn the gas grill off or close the vents on your charcoal grill. Keep an eye on the grill and the coals as everything is cooling down. Move the grill or remove the used briquettes only when everything is completely cool. keep an eye on kids and pets so they stay away from the grill until it is cool.

Have a safe and fun time grilling this summer!

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