barbecue-tips-for-summer-grillSummer is coming, and with it all the fun outdoor stuff that comes with warm weather. As a homeowner, one of the best things about spending time outdoors is throwing that perfect barbecue for family and friends. Following a few tips before you fire up the grill will help you perfect your cooking technique.

Preparing the Grill

Breaking out the barbecue from storage and getting it ready to use is the first step. Use a wire brush with stiff bristles to clean off the remains left over from last year’s cookout. A bit of soap and water wouldn’t hurt, to wash away any leftover residue and old stale flavours. If your grill is cast iron, avoid using harsh cleaners on it and be sure to season the cooking grids with oil.

Inspect the grill to see what kind of shape it’s in. If there are holes in the burners, you’ll want to replace them. Before firing up your barbecue, make sure no spiders have decided to take up residence inside it during the winter months. If the grill hasn’t been used in a while and needs to be replaced, any local hardware store sells both fixed-size and expandable grills. 

Important Safety Tips

Inexperienced outdoor cooks are more prone to have an accident when using a grill, so following the instructions for use keeps everyone safe. Avoid flame-ups in close proximity, and remember to stand far enough away from the open flame to cook your food, but not you. Smoke from the grill can irritate your eyes and lungs, so standing upwind when you cook is a good idea. When setting up the grill, place it far enough away from flammable materials so that it won’t be a fire hazard. 

Cooking with gas is different than cooking with a gas grill. Before your guests arrive, make sure you inspect the fuel tank to make sure it isn’t leaking and the fuel lines to ensure they aren’t clogged. When using charcoal, apply the lighter fluid carefully and avoid pouring it on hot coals. Although it may seem like common sense to an experienced outdoor cook, avoid smoking when applying the fluid. 

Just the Right Temperature

Whether you’re planning to cook steaks, chicken, fish or sausages, once it’s lit a grill needs to be preheated correctly. If it’s not hot enough the food will be undercooked, and if it’s too hot the food could burn. It doesn’t matter whether your grill is gas or charcoal – test the heat. You’ll know you’ve reached just the right temperature if you can hold your hand six inches above the grill for two to three minutes without burning yourself. Or you can check the external thermometer on your grill, if you have one. Some people may not want to put their hand over a grill!

Once at the right temperature, make sure the heat is low enough to cook everything evenly, all the way to the centre. It takes some practice to grill steaks to order when some prefer theirs medium or medium rare, while others like theirs well done. Some food items will cook faster, like hot dogs, hamburgers or shish kebobs, so pay attention.

Tasty Flavour Enhancers

barbecue-tips-for-summer-chickenFood cooked on the grill tastes better when it marinates beforehand, and marinating can also keep the meats juicy and tender. Letting your burgers, fish, chicken or whatever you’re preparing soak in the marinade overnight gives it added flavour that stands up to grilling. When making burgers, a surprising secret to successful barbecuing is to use milk when making the patties. Another tip is to add a few cloves of fresh garlic and one or two pear slices.

Store-bought marinades and barbecue sauces are good, but homemade is better and lets you experiment with new flavours. Citrus fruit juices make a wonderful marinade, and preparing chicken with a mixture of orange juice, soy sauce and brown sugar before cooking adds a delicious tang. A simple grilling sauce you can whip up in a few minutes has ingredients including, cloves, chopped onion, red and black pepper, molasses, cider vinegar and brown sugar.

Marinades, Rubs or Sauces

Deciding whether to use a marinade, barbecue sauce or a dry rub is entirely up to you. You and your guests may have a favourite recipe or you may want to experiment. Some flavours work particularly well with fish and seafood, while others may seem perfect for burgers, chicken or shish kebobs. A tasty dry rub for pork has ingredients like brown sugar, cayenne and black peppers, paprika, garlic and onion powder.

Mix up a citrus brine for salmon or trout using ingredients like fresh lemons, limes and oranges. For burgers or steaks, try a marinade made with whiskey, molasses, honey, cider vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Your guests will be sure to rave about your grilling expertise. You can make a marinade for Korean barbecue chicken using soy sauce, ground ginger, lemon juice, onion powder and even a few teaspoons of hot chili paste if your taste buds like it extra spicy.

Food cooked outdoors seems so much more flavourful than something cooked in the oven or on the stove. With a little practice, anyone can learn the knack of grilling. Don’t let another summer go by without donning your chef’s hat, grabbing your cooking fork and heading outside for some grilling adventures.

Photo credit: BBQ grill, chicken
Posted by Chris Penny on


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