Grilling is a simple pleasure that is enjoyed by many. It can be an enjoyable pastime whether one is omnivorous or vegan, whether it is cold or hot outside, and whether you prefer propane or charcoal. If you can eat, you can grill!
Obviously, regardless whether you are a pro or a newbie, whether you cook with gas or coal, the common denominator is food. Since everybody eats differently, there are a variety of possibilities for grilling, but there is something for everyone!
Most people immediately think of red meat when the idea of grilling comes up. Burgers, steaks, chops, ribs, fillets, all sorts of beautiful meat are excellent when cooked on the grill. This category includes beef, lamb, venison, and similar meats.
Hamburgers are probably the most common food cooked on a grill. Add a bit of garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce to season them, along with salt and pepper to taste. Of course, diners will probably want condiments, plus lettuce and tomato, to make them into the classic dish expected at a cookout.
Steaks are also quite common. It can be tricky to cook a steak perfectly on a grill, but once you learn the basics, it can be done with little hassle. Most take 4 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, to get finished at optimal levels. All should be turned only once, in the middle of the cooking time. Most are better when seared over flame, then some can stay there to cook while others should be finished with indirect heat. Thicker meat cuts should be allowed to rest for about ten minutes before slicing, as the internal temperature will continue to increase during this time. Know your goal internal temperature, and check with an instant read thermometer and remove the steak when it gets to 5-10 degrees below the desired temperature.
Chicken is one of the most-grilled poultry items – especially thighs, wings, and drumsticks. It is possible to do a whole chicken on the grill, too. Most often, chicken is basted with barbecue sauce when cooked on the grill, which makes it flavorful and delightful.
Some people find that it is easier to be sure chicken is fully cooked by cooking it in the oven and then grilling for just long enough to get the flavor, but if a quick-read thermometer is used, chicken can be fully cooked on the grill just as easily.
Charcoal grills can also have smoke chips added to enhance the flavor of the items. This is especially delicious when used to smoke a turkey or a whole chicken. This does take much longer than cut chicken, naturally, but the time can be worth it when the end product is enjoyed!
“Throw some shrimp on the barbie!” It is a much-quoted phrase, but it is also a delicious meal option. Shrimp should be thoroughly cleaned and then seasoned. It’s best to use large shrimp, so they do not fall between the grate. You will get best results if you cook shrimp that you purchase fresh on the same day purchased or freeze them immediately for later use.
If your shrimp is fresh, and there is a black line running down the back, you will want to peel and devein them. You can leave the tail on or remove it, whichever is preferred. Toss in olive oil, lemon juice, and preferred spices (salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, ginger, or sauce) before cooking. You can lay them directly on the grill or use skewers to make them easier to handle (soak wooden skewers before using so they will not catch fire). Large shrimp will cook in about six minutes (three minutes per side). Avoid overcooking.
Fish such as salmon and catfish can also be cooked on the grill. Use similar methods to stovetop cooking, keeping in mind the difference in temperature.
Vegetables and Fruit
If you prefer plant-based grilling, there are a lot of options available to you!
Just about any vegetable can be grilled, but there are some that just work better than others. These grill-friendly vegetables are asparagus, beets, cabbage, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. They can be grilled directly, in foil, on kebabs, or any number of ways. The important thing is to keep a close eye on them, as they can burn quickly.
Because fruits contain natural sugars, they caramelize quickly, which gives them an amazing burst of flavor. Like vegetables, some do better than others on the grill. The best options for grilling include avocado, bananas, figs, melons, peaches, pears, pineapple, and tomatoes. These hold their shape when grilled.
Grill large slices of fruits to get the best results. Not only will they stay together better, they are also less likely to slip between the grate and fall into the fire below. Make sure the grill is good and hot, to prevent sticking. You can also add a layer of granulated sugar – especially to citrus fruits – before grilling to enhance the caramelization and give it a pretty and delicious coating.
If you want to retain the juice that is released from the fruit during the grilling process, use a sheet of foil or a baking tray with a rim to hold the fruit and the released juices.
Some people use the grill for such dishes as pizza, or desserts. Nearly anything can be cooked on a grill. Some desserts that can be grilled include cobblers, S’mores, fruit skewers, even pie!More unusual dishes to do on the grill include clams, tofu, oysters, quesadillas, sweet potatoes, rice balls, French toast, and, believe it or not, salad!
In order to have the best possible grilling experience, there are some tools and accessories you will want to get. Some are essential, while others just make it a little more fun.
Obviously, in order to grill, one needs a grill! There are two main types: charcoal or propane. Charcoal grills use a pile of charcoal – either briquets or lump charcoal. Briquets tend to burn longer and are generally easier to light but contain chemicals that could affect the food if you do not wait long enough before cooking. Lump charcoal burns for less time and less evenly, starting out hot and cooling over time. Propane grills connect to a propane tank – usually a 20 gallon one – and allow for more even cooking with constant heat.
This stainless-steel propane-powered grill has four burners and side platforms for holding utensils and plates or trays. One side plate covers a burner that can be used with a pot.
This charcoal grill also includes a smoker offset which can be used as an additional grill if not using it for smoking food. Wood chips added to the charcoal briquets add flavor to the food that is amazing. This grill is large enough to cook for the whole family.
For most meats, it is wise to have a quick-read thermometer available to ensure completely cooked food. This is especially important for poultry, pork, and wild game, all of which could cause serious illness if undercooked.
This instant read thermometer has a stainless steel probe, a high precision sensor, and a range of -58 degrees Fahrenheit to 572 degrees Fahrenheit (or -50 to 300 Celsius). It uses a AAA battery.
You can save some trouble by getting a tool kit like this one from Cuisinart:
This set includes a glove, a pair of tongs, a fork, and a spatula. If you prefer, you can get each piece separately, choosing the option that will best work for you and your family.
This set of grilling towels comes with three, each of which has a ring set into one corner to easily keep it handy at the grill.
Many grills come with attached side tables, but if your grill is not one of these, it is a helpful thing to have a small table by the grill for setting down food items, plates, utensils, etc.
This handy side table includes hooks for hanging utensils or towels, a nice surface, and a storage cabinet underneath.
A wire brush with attached scraper can help to keep your grill grates clean and ready for use. Be careful with wire brushes, however, and be sure to replace them as soon as they begin to show rust or wear. If used after disintegration has begun, the wire bristles can get into food, be ingested, and cause internal injuries. This does not mean one should not use a wire brush for cleaning a grill thoroughly, but it does mean that brushes should be inspected regularly to ensure safety of all involved.