The ultimate form for a perfect summer afternoon is grilling. Unfortunately, grilling is intimidating, especially if you keep making mistakes, and the meat turns out awful. Whether you are new to the whole grilling game or can’t get your act right, there is a chance that you are making these errors. Here is to fantastic steak!
Mistake #1 – Preparing the meat right before searing
What to do instead: Prep meat ahead of time
Any meat expert will tell you the worst you can do to your meat is putting it over the grill immediately after removing it from the fridge. Allow meat to sit for at least 20 minutes after removing from the refrigerator before throwing it over the fire. That way, your steak won’t be warm on the outside and cold in the inside. However, don’t allow it to stay for more than 30 minutes from the fridge because bacteria thrive in raw meat. After the meat gets to room temperature, pat it using a paper towel.
Mistake #2 – Marinating your steak
What to do instead: Use brine
There is no way you can grill without using a marinade, right?. Well, it’s time to debunk the myth because marinades don’t perform as well as we think they do. Although they taste great, they don’t get into the meat fiber and thus don’t release their flavor. What’s the need of having a strong flavor at the surface and nothing on the inside? On the other hand, brines get inside the meat. They also change the protein structure to help in holding onto the moisture.
Mistake #3 – Not preparing the grill
What to do instead: Clean the grill and gates
Give your grill a considerable amount of care and attention, probably as much as you give to the meat. While at it, create different zones for indirect and direct heat. When using a charcoal grill, make sure you don’t cover the entire surface using charcoal briquettes. Instead, have a hot zone area in one section of the grill and leave the other for indirect heat cooking.
Mistake #4 – Overcrowding the grill
What to do instead: Leave some space between the meat pieces
If you are having a family BBQ or if you live in a condo and want to cook meat quickly, you might be tempted to throw everything in there. Unfortunately, the grill can only give the best results when it is used to its best capacity. Anything more than that means that your meat will have fewer flavors and won’t be done like you would have wanted it to.
Mistake #5 – Cooking the meat in a cold grill
What to do instead: Preheat the grill
Ensure that you preheat your grill before you start preparing your meat. A rule of the thumb is that you should allow between 15 and 25 minutes of pre-heating before you throw in the steak. The practice not only helps in killing the bacteria, but it also gives the steak a good start. It is particularly vital for gas stoves.
Mistake #6 – Turning meat to get the perfect cross-hatch grill marks
What to do instead: Don’t turn your steaks frequently to allow even cooking
Grill packaging and advertising pictures depict cooked steaks with cross-hatch grill marks. That is why many people are usually looking to get the markings. Unfortunately, they do that at the expense of evenly cooked meat. The lighter marks between the steaks are of unfulfilled potential. When you turn the chicken every often, you will achieve the aesthetically appealing markings, but some of the parts of your steak will be uncooked.
Mistake #7 – Adding sauce to the meat at the wrong time
What to do instead: Add sauce when the meat is cooking
When you cover proteins in sugar before putting them inside the grill, the result is likely to be charred and burned meat. The reason is that when sugar is exposed to high heat, it melts and caramelizes. Common culprits for this are fruit glazes, barbecue sauce as well as teriyaki-based sauces. To avoid this error, apply sauces and glazes during the last few minutes of grilling. Besides, you won’t achieve any added flavor when you add the seasonings before cooking.
Mistake #8 – Cooking many things at once
What to do instead: Put one item at a time
Backyard BBQs are a great way of chilling on a warm afternoon, but you shouldn’t overwork the grill. When you throw in steak, chicken, hotdogs, and anything else at once, you compromise on the quality of your final product. Cook one food item at a go. That way, you can set the right temperature for the meat. It also helps you to concentrate on one piece and avoid cross-contamination. Remember that flavors are essential when it comes to all matters grilling.
Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart
Inforgraphic from Smoke Gears.