By Christie Vanover | Published April 3, 2015 | Last Updated June 27, 2022
Jumping behind the grill can be a little intimidating. There’s something about the power of fire that can strike our ego and make us second-guess our skills. But if you follow these five grill tips, you can tame that fire, and whip out some amazing meals.
Grill Tips #1 – Be Prepared
When you watch cooking shows on TV, they make everything look so easy. They look so confident. They just throw dishes together like it’s nothing. So what’s their secret? Mise en place. Mise en what?
Mise en place is a French phrase that translates to putting in place.
Go back and watch your favorite cooking show. You’ll see that the cook has everything they need pre-measured at arm’s length. You can do this, too.
Read through the recipe. Pre-chop and pre-measure the ingredients. Figure out what pans, bowls and utensils you’re going to need. Once everything is in place, start the grill.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how this builds your confidence. You won’t have to run into the kitchen for a last minute ingredient while your meat is left to overcook on the grill. Instead, you’ll be in charge of this meal.
Grill Tips #2 – Brine it Baby
Brining is not just for your Thanksgiving turkey. When it comes to grilling and barbecuing, brining locks the juices into any type of meat.
How does brining work? It’s science. Without getting over complicated, the salts in the wet or dry brine basically hydrate the muscle tissue and help the cells hold water.
Wet brine is what’s most common at Thanksgiving. You make a brine of salt, water, herbs and sugar and soak the turkey overnight. Then, rinse and prepare.
To dry brine meat, rub a combination of spices onto a piece of meat and let it rest overnight in the fridge. This extra spice spa time allows the salt to get into those muscle cells that lock in the moisture.
When you’ve got your mise en place together, start the grill and throw your brined meat on the grates. It’ll be juicy, baby.
Grill Tips #3 – Keep An Eye on It
This is the easiest technique, but often the hardest. How can it be both? Because it’s so darn easy, we forget about it.
You’ve got to keep an eye on your grill.
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been proud of my grilling, taken a photo, Instagrammed it and then got distracted with all the pretty pictures. Next thing I know, the grill is flaring up and my picture-perfect steak is no longer social media worthy.
It happens when I’m smoking, too. I get the coals to the right 225-250-degree temperature, and I forget to check on it every hour. A few hours later, I go out to the grill and see it’s spiked to 325. How long has it been in this zone? Who knows? So much for cooking slow and low.
Keep an eye on your grill, and she won’t let you down.
Grill Tips #4 – Don’t Guess
Why are pitmasters so confident that their competition barbecue is going to rock the judges’ world? What’s their secret to knowing when a piece of meat is ready to be pulled off the smoker?
It’s not dumb luck. It’s not how the meat feels or looks. It’s all about accuracy.
Every professional barbecuer I know uses an instant read thermometer. Different meats have different magic points. Pork butt should be smoked to 180 degrees and then wrapped up in foil until it hits 200. Brisket should be wrapped around 165 degrees and cooked to 200 degrees. Poultry should be cooked to 165. Any longer, it will be dry.
Each Girls Can Grill recipe will tell you what temperature you should be aiming for. Follow the advice, and you’ll know your piece of meat is going to impress.
Grill Tips #5 – Look the Part
Want to show people you really know what you’re doing? Want to exude confidence? Dress the part.
If a man walks up to you ready to take your tongs, he’ll think twice when he sees you sporting Girls Can Grill gear. This is your domain.
Hand him a beer and send him on his way. You got this.