Whether you prefer to throw red meat or fish on the barbie, here’s a collection of useful tips from cookbook author John McLemore for keeping your ribs moist, your salmon juicy and your flank steak tender.
These 20 barbecue tips are culled from his book, “DADGUM, That’s Good! Kickbutt Recipes for Smoking, Grilling, Frying, Boiling and Steaming.”
Grilling Techniques for Fish & Meat
• Coat grill rack with non-stick spray or vegetable oil before preheating to prevent food from sticking.
• When grilling fish, first cook it skin side down or place it on aluminum foil, coated with non-stick spray.
• Red snapper is quick and easy to barbecue. Make sure both the grill and the fish are well oiled, and handle carefully.
• Salmon is a favorite for grilling, because it doesn’t dry out easily. Rich in natural omega oils, you can pop it on the grill without coating it with oil. First grill the salmon skin side up. This allows the natural fat under the skin to be drawn into the fillet, keeping it rich and moist.
• If you’re grilling scallops, use the fresh ocean variety. These should be a pinkish tan or ivory color, not unnaturally white.
• Freshwater trout is great on the grill. The skin becomes thin and crispy, and the meat is full of flavor.
• To keep tuna burgers moist, choose the freshest steaks you can find and serve them medium-rare to medium — don’t overcook.
• Grill ribs, pork butt or tenderloin unwrapped for 50 to 75 percent of the cooking time, to infuse smoke and flavor. Then cook the meat wrapped in heavy aluminum foil to retain moisture and tenderness.
• When barbecuing burgers and steaks, allow the grill to get to a high temperature before placing food on it. Let the meat cook several minutes before turning, to sear it and seal in the juices.
• When choosing an inexpensive steak, opt for flank rather than skirt meat, which can be tougher. Flank steak is thin and cooks quickly, so it is usually marinated before being grilled. Wrap it in foil as it comes off the grill and let it stand for 10 minutes. Slice thinly on the diagonal, across the grain, to sever the tough fibers and make the flavorful meat more tender.
Grilling Chicken, Vegetables and More
• When is cheaper better? Chicken thighs are less expensive than some other cuts of meat but they do great on the grill. Thighs are more flavorful and the extra fat in the skin makes them well suited for grilling.
• For the juiciest chicken and chops, sear them on both sides over high heat for several minutes, then reduce the grill temperature to finish cooking.
• Putting aluminum foil on the grill before cooking oiled vegetables on it prevents them from falling through the grates.
• Just a few minutes on the grill gives bell peppers a sweet, smoky flavor. Don’t over roast them. As soon as the skin puffs up and turns black, they’re done.
• Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; grill for 15 minutes.
• You can leave the husk on the corn while grilling. Once you see the shape of the kernels burning through the husk, your corn is ready. If you grill with indirect heat, you’ll need to cook the corn for about an hour, so get it on the barbecue first.
• Grilled Caesar salad? Sure — the Romaine lettuce ends will char, but the greens stay remarkably crisp and sweet, with a smoky flavor.
• Clean the grill after each use, but always allow it to cool down before doing so.
• To extend the life of your grill (and smoker), store in a dry place or keep covered after each use.
• Do not grill alone; it’s always better when you can spend the time with family and friends!