I promise I’m not here to start some great grilling debate about the merits of charcoal versus gas grills, or whether throwing this or that kind of wood chips into the fire is the ONLY way to go. People who are really into the summer ritual of backyard bar-b-que qualify as a kind of geek, because they can be obsessed about the science and art of their hobby and will be ready to debate their personal preferences with the same passion you might get in a Star Wars versus Star Trek debate. I’m not going to take sides. I just want to enjoy the good stuff that results from the application of said passion.
Which is why I’m pleased to remind you that grilling season is here, and, as good geeks, maybe now is time to consider how you’re going to hack your backyard cooking this summer!
So, what I’d like to hear from all our readers is what are YOUR tips, tricks, and hacks for pulling off great backyard cooking. To get the discussion started, here are a couple of things I love to do:
- The old rubbing-a-potato on the grill trick: yeah, everyone tells me that if you keep your grill clean, and let your chosen meat cook the right amount of time it should come right up off the grill for you. Almost never seems to work for me. So I found out that one way to help the non-stick situation improve is to let your grill heat up, and then rub the cooking surface with the cut face of a raw potato. The starch that rubs off creates a good, temporary non-stick surface. You can also try onions (for added flavor) or a lemon.
- Doing brisket on the grill is an amazing experience, and one excellent tactic is called “The Texas Crutch,” and involves wrapping the meat, mid-cook, in foil, to help keep it moist and juicy. I’ve had some amazing successes with this.
- One of the hardest grilling lessons I learned over the years was to make sure the steaks I cook are completely defrosted and at a uniform temperature throughout before cooking. But I *always* forget to get the meat out of the freezer early enough. But I’ve figured out a good, relatively quick process for getting the steak ready. First, we always try to vacuum-seal the steaks for freezing (especially when we get the meat from Costco), so that makes it really easy to submerge is in warm water. It’s a quasi-sous vide method, where I’ll just put the steak, still in its vacuum seal, in a pot of water on the stove at a low temp. It usually takes about 20 minutes, and the meat will defrost and come to a uniform temperature, perfect for cooking.
What do you do that ups your grilling game? What special cooking hacks do you use to save time, or to get amazing flavors? What interesting foods do you grill? Let us know in the comments, or via social media.