One of my favorite things about summer is enjoying our family meals hot off the grill. Not only do I love the flavor of barbecued foods, but I also love to hand off cooking responsibilities to my husband, the grill king.
If you’re looking for some tricks to take your outdoor grilling from fabulous to phenomenal, check out these 8 clever grilling hacks:
- Use a chimney starter: A chimney starter makes starting a charcoal fire super easy. You need to “place crumpled paper in the bottom of the chimney, fill it with charcoal and light the paper,” explains Eating Well. “In about 20 minutes the coals will be ready to spread evenly in the bottom of the grill — no kindling, no lighter fluid, no perfect pyramid required.”
- Use an onion to clean your grill: This sounds odd, but you can use an onion to get your grill nice and clean. Once your grill grates are really hot, you can jab a fork into an onion that’s been cut in half, then rub the onion face down on the grill until the grill’s grates are wiped clean of that black grime and gunk.
- Get it hot: Eating Well recommends preheating your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you plan on cooking on it. For high heat, your grill should be at 400 to 450 degrees (Fahrenheit); medium-high is 350 to 400 degrees; medium heat is 250 to 300 degrees; and low heat is 250 to 300 degrees.
- Oil it up: Lean foods can stick on a grill, even if it’s clean. To reduce sticking, you can soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and use it – holding it with tongs – to rub oil over the grill rack.
- Marinate your meat: Not only does marinating your meat infuse it with lots of flavor, but according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, it also can help reduce potentially carcinogenic HCAs from forming on meat by as much as 92 to 99 percent.
- Use bricks to flatten meat: If you’re looking for a way to weigh down Cornish hens, T-bone steaks, chicken or other meats, try using bricks wrapped in foil. It will help crisp up your meat’s skin and also give your meat grill lines.
- Invest in a good meat thermometer: The Thermapen Mk4 ($99) and Classic Thermapen ($69-$79) by Thermoworks are the top rated instant-read thermometers by Cook’s Illustrated. We use the Classic Thermapen at our house (though my husband really wants to upgrade to the Mk4), and we love it. It’s quick, accurate and easy to use and clean. “A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking,” Eating Well explains.
- Make corn on the cob irresistible: The Chicago Tribune recommends barbecuing your corn on the cob, then using mayonnaise, chili powder, lime and cheese to really dress it up and wow your taste buds. We do this little trick often, and the result is absolutely mouthwateringly delicious.
Do you grill a lot? Share your grilling experiences and any tips below or on our Facebook page.