I’ve always looked at grilling as an elusive craft – one that takes years to perfect and that’s not to be taken lightly.
But summer grilling is an activity I’ve always wanted to be a part of (and it’s the way to make food the most delicious version of itself, so there’s that).
When a friend purchased a grill this summer I made it my mission to not only partake in the grilling out festivities, I wanted to learn how to operate the thing myself.
I won’t pretend to be anything close to a grill-master (and let’s be real, I’ll always be better at partaking in eating the grilled food than preparing it), but I consider my solo grilling experience a success I want to share with you before summer ends – maybe just in time to apply some tips and tricks for your Labor Day plans.
I cooked on a propane gas grill rather than a charcoal one – the debate rages on between which is better – but for my purposes, a grill that heated up quickly, could be used legally on a balcony and didn’t produce much mess was the obvious choice.
I don’t eat much red meat, but I’ve read that using a charcoal grill makes more sense for foods like steak because it gets hotter and cooks more evenly through the meat. You can let me know what you think about that – I stuck with shrimp and veggies as my meal of choice.
I used a lime, cilantro and barbecue sauce marinade on the shrimp for a few hours before grilling and stuck them on skewers to make them easy to handle.
When it came down to the cooking process, I thought there would be way more things to remember, but as it turns out, grilling was pretty simple and relaxing. I even drank a beer and relaxed on the balcony during the experience – something I never do when I’m in the kitchen.
All things considered, there were only a few things I needed to remember to ensure I didn’t burn the place down.
- Make sure all the knobs on the front of the grill are turned to the “Off” position before turning the gas on the propane tank. Luckily, I didn’t make this mistake, but I was warned that if any of the knobs are turned on beforehand, when you open the grill lid, flames could come directly out from the grill bed. Um, no thanks.
- Let the grill get hot and then clean it off with whatever tool you use. It’s much easier than trying to clean it beforehand, and if you make sure to clean it before adding your food items, you’ll ensure you’ve killed any leftover bacteria from a prior use. The same goes for cleaning the grill at the end of your use – go ahead and clean it right away while it’s still hot and it will take less time.
- Timing is everything. This is true with anything you cook; I just had to learn what that timing looked like on a grill. I underestimated how long to grill the pineapple slices I cut, and overestimated how long it took to cook shrimp. The best way to tell if meat is done is to use a meat thermometer (something I didn’t have) and this handy temperature guide – so if you are planning on grilling with regularity it’s your safest bet for not undercooking or overcooking your meat.
- Start lean. A great introductory way to start grilling more is sticking with vegetables and leaner meats/fish. I was able to get used to the grilling experience without worrying about what can potentially go wrong (like flames flaring up, which usually happens with fattier meats).
- You can grill almost anything. Grilled salad? Yes. Grilled dessert? Of course! Grilled breakfast? Yes, you can.
What’s your go-to grill tip?