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Tips for Successful Summer Grilling

Grilling using charcoal or gas provides an opportunity to be outside, enjoy the sunshine, the company of others, and a variety of great food. What do you think of when you hear summer grilling? Grilling goes beyond your traditional hamburgers or hot dogs. You can enjoy beef, poultry, fish, veggies, and even fruits on the grill.

The first step in grilling is to start with a clean grill. For day-to-day maintenance, use a grill brush to scrape down the grates. If using charcoal, be sure all previous ash from coals has been removed. Grills should be deep cleaned every six months to a year. To do this, disconnect the gas or remove the charcoal. Next, take out the drip pans and grates, and soak them while you clean the rest of the grill. For a gas grill, cover the heating elements. Use a brush to scrub the inside of the hood or lid, wipe down the inside with a wet scrub pad or towel. Return to the soaking grates for a scrub and rinse. Finally, remove the foil on the heating element, return the grates and drip pan and reconnect the tank or replace the charcoal.

Have you tried two-zone grilling before? This is where you only turn on a portion of the burners or lay down charcoal on a portion of your grill. This method will give you better temperature control of your food. By placing the food on the side of the grill not heated you are cooking with indirect heat, the heat travels from the hot side to cook the food. If looking for a sear or golden brown color, place the items on direct heat, over the flame for the last minute or two. Another grilling tip is preparing your grates to prevent food from sticking. This can be done by heating your grill, and then putting olive oil on a paper towel and running it over the grates using a pair of tongs.

Did you know you can use wood chips to flavor your food on both a charcoal and gas grill? Gas grills will require more, due to smoke escaping out the sides. There are several ways you can use wood in grilling. Place a smoker box on the grates or use a disposable aluminum pan filled with wood chunks covered with foil and poke holes in. Another method is to make smoke packets by wrapping wood in foil, poke holes and add more as they burn up. If you are adding wood that is under the grate and you will not be able to get to, it’s recommended you soak it first, otherwise, you can use dry wood. Create a smoke over heat before adding food to the grill and then move to an area of the grill that is not direct heat. The chart below provides examples of different types of woods and the foods they pair well with.

Wood Suggested Uses
Alder Fish
Apple, Cherry, Peach or Pear Poultry, Ham
Hickory Beef, Pork, Poultry
Maple Vegetable
Mesquite Beef, Pork
Oak Brisket, Pork, Poultry
Pecan Chicken, Fish, Ribs

 

When grilling to make sure your food is cooked to safe to eat temperature use a food thermometer. Whole cuts of meat such as steaks, chops, and roasts should reach 145°F, ground meats 160°F, chicken, and turkey 165°F and fish 145°F or until the color is opaque or if it’s a filet it can be easily flaked with a fork.

Besides your protein, grill up your fruits and veggies. Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, eggplant, corn, squash, and tomatoes can be grilled by brushing with olive oil or soak them in a marinade. You can place it directly on the grill, use a grilling basket, skewers or make a foil tray. Larger pieces are suggested to lay directly on the grill and smaller alternative options to prevent falling through the grates. Grill on medium to high 5-7 minutes on each side. Keep in mind using a grilling basket can take a longer amount of time. With the heat rising, grilled fruit can be a sweet addition to your meal and keep your family cool while adding nutrition to your meal. Watermelon slices, peach halves, pineapple wedges, or even apples, pears, and plums can be grilled. Slice and grill your watermelon and pineapple for a few minutes on each side over medium to high heat. Slice peaches, pears, plums, and apples in half, removing any seeds and pits. Place the cut side down on the grill for just a few minutes or until you achieve the grilling marks you are aiming for. Keep your family’s food safe and mix up your traditional grilling menu with these summer grilling tips!