Are you ready to become a grilling guru? It’s easier than you might think. The secret to a delicious, crowd-pleasing cookout isn’t the fanciest grill or the most exotic ingredients—it’s all about mastering the basics.
Always Preheat: It’s tempting to throw your food onto the grill as soon as you light it up, but patience is key. Preheating your grill for at least 15 minutes ensures that your food will cook evenly and sear nicely, resulting in those beautiful grill marks everyone loves.
Control Your Coals: If you’re a fan of char-grilling, understanding how to use your charcoal effectively is crucial. For hotter, more direct heat, spread your charcoal evenly across the bottom of your grill–this is great for searing meat quickly. For a slower, more indirect heat (ideal for larger cuts of meat that need to cook longer), pile your charcoal on one side of the grill and place the food on the other. This method will allow the food to cook slower, soaking up all the smoky flavor without burning.
Remember, charcoal typically takes about 15-20 minutes (or longer for larger grills with more charcoal) to reach the proper temperature for grilling, which is usually when the briquettes have turned an ashy gray color.
Keep it Clean with an Onion: Here’s a clever and safe way to clean your grill—no wire brush required. Cut an onion in half. Using a fork or a pair of tongs, rub the cut-side of the onion over the heated grates. The onion’s natural enzymes will help break down the grime and residue. Plus, it will add a subtle flavor to your grill!
Oil Up: Once you’ve cleaned the grill with the onion, lightly oil the grates just before cooking to prevent food from sticking. Soak a paper towel in vegetable oil, hold it with tongs, and rub it over the grates. But be careful not to douse the grill in oil—it only takes a little to do the trick.
Master the Heat: One flame doesn’t fit all: Learn to control your grill’s heat for different foods. Sausages and burgers cook well over medium heat, while chicken requires medium-low heat to ensure it cooks thoroughly without burning.
Use the Lid Strategically: If you’re cooking on a gas grill, it’s often best to keep the lid down to maintain temperature and ensure even cooking. However, keep the lid open to prevent overcooking if you’re grilling thin or delicate foods that cook quickly, like shrimp or asparagus.
Keep Your Wine on Hand. Whether you choose a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a classic Carneros Chardonnay, a people-pleasing Pinot Noir, or a lush California Zinfandel, always have Rombauer on hand to keep your palate sated. Keep the bottles away from the grill to avoid warming up too much and try bringing down the temperature of the red wines a little by chilling on top of ice for a little before drinking.