Yesterday I asked you for all your brilliant thoughts, tips, tricks, and recipes for grilling great food, and man did you all deliver.
Photo by dan erickson.
You should definitely read the 100+ comments over on the US site, but these were some of my favourites:
My Choice of Photo
Note the above photo of pretty kebabs, with meats and vegetables all skewered together on one stick. As somedouche points out, it may look pretty, but it’s not the best way to cook:
Grilling Tip: The article picture is a bad way to grill. Your skewers look pretty, but they’re going to cook unevenly because stuff cooks at different rates. Put like things together on skewers (e.g. a skewer of all chicken, a skewer of cucumbers, etc.) so that the cook time on the individual skewer is uniform.
It’s less pretty, but it will taste better.
Gas, Charcoal Or Wood?
As would be expected, this was a fairly divisive topic, with most people favouring charcoal for the great flavour it brings. But Carl — who now has his very own column on Sundays — made a very good point about working with what you have:
Each is better at some things than others, but if you can’t justify a $US400 ($536) charcoal grill you shouldn’t feel like you have to. I’ve downsized to a 15 or so year old Weber Genesis 1000 and I love it. It’s a work in progress, but it’s so much.. simpler? I love lump and briquettes and ceramic and pellet grills but man, a good gas grill is basically a tank if you treat it right. You won’t ever get the sear that you do with coal or ceramic but I think 600 degrees is decent enough for cooking 3-5 burgers on a weeknight.
There was also a very good discussion on charcoal and wood chip brands that you should probably peep.
Though a grill is designed so you can cook food with no additional pots and pans, this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. As Pete points out in his comment, a cast iron pan on the grill will give you a larger surface area for developing an awesome crust. You can also use it to execute the reverse sear outside, meaning perfect steaks with no smokey kitchens:
Using a reverse sear technique fits this approach perfectly as you can indirectly cook the meat first and then finish it off with a nice sear on the cast iron, which if you’ve placed on the grill while cooking the meat, should be properly heated at the end. I find the best results when removing one of the grates and placing the cast iron directly on the burners.
On Getting Lit
As bwong2 notes in their comment, this tip is quite specific, but very neat, so I’ll share it here in full for those that will benefit:
My best tip only applies if you have both a charcoal grill and a gas grill with a side burner, so I apologise in advance that this eliminates much of the population. But here it is: use your gas side burner to get your charcoal chimney started. You’ll never have to mess with newspaper (too much ash) or paraffin starters (too drippy) ever again.
Just load up the chimney starter with charcoal, light your side burner, and put the chimney on top until the bottom coals are lit. Then move it to the charcoal grates until the whole thing is lit and pour it out just as you would normally. (Note from experience: don’t leave it on your side burner until everything is lit. The heat from the charcoal is so great, it can melt part of the side burner.)
You’ll never light your chimney the old way again.
On Food Choices
Pretty much everyone agreed pineapple was king of the grilled fruits, but oyster mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts will definitely be making it onto my grill this summer (if I can find a friend with a grill). There were also a lot of great recipes, including this one for wings, this burger, and this tofu.
Here are some additional smoker tips from kis_ev:
Grilled/smoked white corn. I remove the silk, but keep the husks on to keep the kernels moist. I just brush a little olive oil, seasoned salt, and black pepper.
Smoked lobster tail. Just a little butter, pepper, a touch of garlic powder. Watch them because they cook fast. Garnish with a little lemon juice and confetti herb (parsley, basil, tarragon, or whatever your have).
Smoked bread. Buy some “take and bake” half-baked bread and finish it off in the smoker.
Quality produce is king
And finally, some words of wisdom from AtomicSnowman:
If your meat can’t stand on its own, then maybe it shouldn’t be on your grill.
Basically, you all did a bang-up job, and I’m very proud of you (and very hungry).