Summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill for a cookout with friends and family. Not only is grilling one of the best ways to bring out the flavor in food, but it’s a delicious way to cook healthy options like veggies, seafood and lean meat. Whether you have a charcoal or gas grill, check out these tips to make the most of your grilling experience
1. Get equipped. You’ll need tools to flip, test the temperature, clean and more. Get tongs, mitts, non-stick spray, a meat thermometer, spatula, fork, vegetable basket and basting brush. To keep things clean, make sure you have a wire brush and aluminum foil on hand.
2. Don’t forget the wooden skewers. They’re perfect for kabobs. Soak the skewers in water for 20 to 30 minutes before putting the food on them — it will prevent them from charring when they’re on the grill. It’s always a good idea to separate the items that cook quickly from those that take longer to cook. For example, place fruits and veggies at the outer edges of the grill, and put the meat towards the center where the heat is strongest.
3. Use foil. It allows the flavors of the food to blend without anything dripping into the grill, and it keeps food extra moist. Take a piece of heavy-duty foil and create a packet for your food. Place the food in the center, leaving some space for heat movement and expansion. Foil is also great for grilling mushrooms, onions, peppers and other small vegetables.
4. Add flavored smoke. Hickory, mesquite, oak and other types of wood chunks or chips can add some zest to the food you’re cooking. The woods aren’t used as a fuel source — they just bring in natural flavoring. Never use softwoods like pine, cedar or spruce, as they produce resins.
5. Keep it safe. Always keep raw and undercooked meat, which may contain harmful bacteria, separate from cooked food. Marinades should never be reused; if you plan to use a portion as a sauce on the cooked food, set it aside separately beforehand. Never reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat. When grilling, make sure you have a clean serving tray, plates and utensils. Always use a meat thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly.
6. Keep it clean. Proper cleanup is essential if you want to continue using your grill for years to come.