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Grilling Basics

​Summer is the perfect time of year to cook outdoors, but you can’t throw a backyard party with great grilled food unless you know how to grill correctly in the first place.

Grilling great food at home is an American tradition, and a fun way to spend a beautiful day with friends and family. Every spring thousands of food fans get out their grills and begin preparing to host a backyard barbeque party. Barbeque parties are probably one of the easiest types of parties to host at home because they are usually very casual and relaxed events where the main attractions are good food, good conversation, and having a great time. Throwing a successful grilling gathering can be a challenging task at times however, especially if you are inviting a large number of guests. Weekends, holidays and big events like Fourth of July celebrations and Super Bowl parties are all good excuses to throw a backyard bash, but the food has to be up to the task if your party is to be a success.

Being adequately prepared is always a necessity when hosting large groups, and good planning can obviously make the experience more enjoyable. However, you can’t throw a backyard party with great grilled food unless you know how to grill correctly in the first place. In order to help make your summer get-together an event to remember, we have prepared this guide to Basic Grilling Tips to help you make the most of both your time and your food:

Direct Grilling -
Chicken, steaks, fish fillets, hamburgers and hot dogs are all foods that usually require less than 30 minutes directly over the coals. The key is to use about 30 charcoal briquettes (about 1 pound) for each pound of meat you will be cooking. Variables include the size and type of your grill, the food you’re cooking, and the weather outside.

Indirect Grilling -
Whole turkeys, bone-in chicken, ribs and other foods that will take longer than 30 minutes to cook are best cooked over indirect heat.

Grilling Steaks –
Choose steaks that are about 1-inch thick and trim any fat off to just 1/8 inch. Flip each steak when the juices start bubbling on the top side and use less time grilling the second side. Be sure to lightly salt and pepper each side of the steaks after turning them.

Grilling Chicken –

Baste your chicken with an oil or marinade it overnight before placing the chicken on the grill skin-side up. You will have to grill chicken halves and quarters at approximately 350°; chicken breasts will require a bit more heat at 375°. Don’t overcook, and remember that your chicken is done when the juices run clear.

Grilling Seafood –
Most fish will not need any tenderizing and should be marinated for no more than a few hours. Clean and lightly oil the grill surface so your fish won’t stick to it when hot. When grilling favorites like tuna, swordfish and halibut, make sure the fillets are at least 1 to 1½ inches thick to prevent excessive drying out. Always use a spatula when grilling fish to keep it from breaking into tiny pieces.

Grilling Pork -
Pork is a snap to grill and all that’s required is to start with chops or cuts that are at least 1 to 1½ inches thick and grill direct until the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink where it meets the bone.

Grilling Vegetables -
When grilling meat you’ll always have to check to make sure it is done before serving, but vegetables are a bit more forgiving and the best way to prepare them is to wrap them in foil and then cook them directly on the grill. Any food wrapped in foil should always be moved around and turned frequently to prevent burning and assure even cooking. If you’re planning to serve cooked vegetables on kabobs, you can parboil them before threading them onto the skewers and they will not fall apart as easily after cooking.

General Grilling Tips

•    You can prevent food from sticking to the grill by rubbing the grill with vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray.
•    Be sure to leave enough space around each item on the grill to permit even cooking.
•    Most meats only need to be turned over one time during grilling.
•    The clearer the juice during cooking, the more well done the meat will be.
•    Sugary sauces containing honey, brown sugar or molasses should away be applied during the last 10 minutes of grilling to prevent burnt sauce.
•    Always keep a spray bottle filled with water handy to put out any flame-ups during the grilling process.
•    After cooking, clean your grill surface with a wire brush to remove any stuck on food.
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