Zen and the Art of the Perfect Grill

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It’s finally starting to get nice out, so that excuse is gone. Take a deep breath, maybe look yourself in the mirror, and ask yourself that question you ask every year - “Is this the year I really start grilling?”

As grilling has grown in popularity, it has also gotten more complicated. Charcoal versus propane has always been a big question, but now everyone seems to be considering wet and dry rubs, smokers, “low and slow,” and a hundred different innovations and catch phrases you’re likely to hear shouted at you while you’re trying to watch your favorite cooking competition show.

With all those options, taking up grilling can seem a little overwhelming. However, we want to let you in on a little secret. You have had the perfect chicken, burger, or steak inside you all along. Here are our top five tips for becoming the best griller you can be, even if you’ve never grilled before.

  1. The perfect grill is your grill. Repeat after us – “If I have a grill, I don’t need another grill.” The best thing about grilling is that it is so basic. You hold some food over a fire for long enough and it goes from being raw to being really tasty. That works for the cheapest grills in the world and it is the same idea that carries the luxe models. Unless your grill has been taken over by bees, your grill can probably get the job done. (If it has been taken over by bees, you don’t have a grill anymore. You have a bee hive.) Whether you use charcoal or prefer propane and propane accessories, find some food and get ready to start a fire. You’ll be grilling in no time.

  2. Start with good food. Grilling good food makes it better, but it’s not going to save bad food. If you are going to spend the time to fire up the grill, make that investment worth it. “Good food” doesn’t mean the most expensive cut of meat in the grocery, but it does mean grilling things you actually want to eat. Start with a burger that looks tasty, veggies that seem super fresh, or a steak that just catches your eye and you’ll be in good shape.

  3. Go slow. Some grillers want to use a very low temperature and cook meat for hours at a time. That is great for certain applications, but if you are just looking to have dinner, you probably don’t need to go to all that effort. However, there is one benefit to grilling slower rather than faster. If your burger is underdone, you can always throw it back on the grill for a couple minutes. If your burger is overdone, it’s time to start from scratch. By grilling at a slightly lower temperature, you’ll increase the chances that you get your meal just right by the time it comes to plating.

  4. Eat! Whatever magic happens to food when you cook it over an open fire starts to diminish the longer it waits to be enjoyed after you pull it off. You may want to give your meal a minute or two to finish cooking before you dive in, but it shouldn’t sit around for twenty minutes while you wait for your cousin to fight through traffic. If you’re expecting a large group or a long party where people will be eating all afternoon, consider keeping the grill running and cooking in waves.

  5. Get back at it! The more you grill, the better you’ll get at all the things that made you nervous about grilling in the first place. You’ll start the charcoal quicker, you won’t have to worry about whether or not you turned the propane off, and you will feel less like the whole thing is a chore and more like you honestly enjoy it.

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