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Grilling 101: Make Perfectly Grilled Food All Summer

May 24, 2017 02:39PM ● Published by Linda Ditch

At the first hint of warmer weather, we fire up our outdoor grills—especially this weekend, the official kickoff to summer! In fact, I bet a few of you are known to start your grills with snow still covering the ground.

Unlike barbecue, which is done at a low temperature for a long time, grilling is hot and fast. The food is cooked over direct heat to create the characteristic grilled flavor.

When buying a grill, one of the biggest debates is about whether to purchase a gas, charcoal, or electric model. While all will do a great job, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The folks at Clarke's Hardware in New London can help you decide which grill works best for you and make sure you leave the store with everything you need for great grilling. At the very least, you will need long, spring-loaded tongs and a long-handled spatula. The tools should not be too heavy and should fit well in your hands. An instant-read thermometer and a timer are also useful, as is a heavy-duty oven mitt.

Here are several tips to get perfectly grilled food all summer:

  • Do not have your grill heated to a single temperature. Ideally, you will have a hot side and a cooler side. For a charcoal grill, this means banking the majority of the coals to one side.
  • Learn to check the grill’s temperature with the hand method. Hold your hand over the fire and count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.). Two to three seconds is a hot, high fire; four to five is medium-high; six to eight is medium; 9 to 10 is medium-low; and eleven to fourteen seconds means you have a low fire.
  • Before using, get the grill’s grate hot. Then brush it clean with a wire grill brush and lubricate it with oil (a paper towel wad and tongs do the trick) just before you add the food. 
  • Do not use water to tame flare-ups. Just move the food to a different area on the grill until the flames subside.
  • Do not put too much food on the grill at once. There should be room to maneuver, whether it is to avoid a flame-up or to slow down the cooking if the temperature is too high in one area.
  • Put barbecue sauce on food toward the end of cooking to prevent burning.
  • Over-turning can be a problem, especially with something as delicate as fish. Figure out the approximate cooking time, and then only turn the food halfway through.
  • When you remove meat from the grill, the internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests. By the time you eat, the meat could be overcooked. Try removing the meat from the grill when it is just under the desired temperature by five to ten degrees.
Happy grilling!

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