Forget Martha Stewart. Here’s how we play house and keep the furry ones who live there happy, too
Originally posted on The Distilled Man.
If you're like many of us, you might be spending at least part of the Summer outside enjoying some ice cold beers while charring meat over hot coals. Here are few refresher tips to help improve your grilling technique...and your results.
Upgrade your fuel
Regular Kingsford Charcoal is the old standby, and it works fine. To take your coals to the next level, consider using Kingsford Competition Briquettes which are vegetable-based but still burn really smoothly. Or better yet, try hardwood lump charcoal. I like the lump charcoal from Lazzari. It's a bit more temperamental than regular briquettes but the flavor is great. I enjoy the odd sizes and shapes you get in the bag--makes things more interesting and a bit more like grilling over a wood fire.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em
The real beauty of grilled food is when you get that mouth-watering smoky taste. Even if you're using regular briquettes, try adding some wood chips to enhance the smokiness of your meat or veggies. It can help turn regular barbecue into amazing barbecue with very little effort.
"10 and 2"
Who knew that the same numbers you learned in driver's ed class were the secret to making perfect cross-hatch marks on your meat? To make beautiful diamond shaped marks, think of your grill as a clock face: when you first put the meat down, angle it toward "10"; then halfway through cooking that side, without flipping, turn it to "2" and cook the same side the rest of the way. When you flip it, repeat the same steps on the other side. You'll get perfectly shaped cross-hatch marks every time.
Touch your meat--(no, not like that...)
This is one of the most important tips of grilling. Meat thermometers are fine, but they end up poking a hole in your meat and loosing precious juices. The best gauge for knowing how cooked your meat is, is by feeling it. As meat cooks, it becomes firmer. And the more you practice, the better you'll be able to gauge how cooked it is just by feeling it. A great trick is using your own hand as a comparison. The fleshy pad of your palm just below your thumb is a perfect analog to how meat feels at different degrees of done-ness. On your left hand, lightly touch the tip of your thumb to your index finger. Then, press your right index finger into the fleshy pad of your palm on your left hand right below your thumb; it should feel slightly squishy. This represents how rare meat should feel. For medium-rare, touch your thumb to your middle finger. For medium, touch your ring finger to your thumb. For well-done, use your pinky (but for the love of all that is good and holy, please don't cook your meat well done. Unless you want it to taste like shoe leather). For more on the touch test, read the Finger Test to Check the Doneness of Meat.
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