Breaking out the grill this weekend? Let us help you impress your friends. GR|MAG spoke with local pitmaster Shane Draper, of Holland-based Grilla Grills, to compile a list of his top grilling tips.
Draper’s Tips on Utilizing Your Grill:
The Hot Seat
Every grill has hotspots. Some people regard this as a negative. Depending on the grill you can even set it up where you have “two-zone” cooking where you have a hotter side for searing and a cooler side for smoking.
Instead of fighting your grill, embrace the hotspots and learn where they are and use them to your advantage. Not everything needs to be cooked over the hottest part of your grill the entire time, but just about everything benefits from just a little time over the hot spot to create just that extra little bit of seared perfection
Probing to Perfection
There is only one gadget, cooking utensil, tool, whatever you want to call it that makes everyone from a baker to a pitmaster better at what they do. That tool is an instant read thermometer. Don’t go cheap here, do yourself a favor and invest in a good one that will last a lifetime. Instant read thermometers register the temperature of the food typically in about two seconds. When you have a hundred chicken wings to check, the two-second read time matters.
The Grate Debate
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to grill grates. Should they be perfectly clean? Should you oil them every time you cook? What should you clean them with? There are lots of heated debates on the Internet concerning grill grates and I’m here to tell you the right answer is . . . somewhere in the middle.
If you cook often, then using a high-quality brush at the beginning and end of your cooking is just about all you need to do. Once every couple of months if you notice more build up happening then take the time to do a complete clean of the grates and then re-oil.
The reality is that unless you have cooked something exceptionally messy the trusty grill brush used on a hot grill takes care of most of the mess, then follow that up with the brush on the cold grill before you light it the next time. If you do this you will have a grill that is pretty nonstick and doesn’t require hours and hours of cleaning every time you use it.
Seriously Simple Seasonings
Don’t overlook the simple seasonings in your pantry for great results. Something as simple as a little salt, pepper and rosemary can make one of the best steaks you have ever eaten. Everyone has associated barbecue with ultra-complex rubs and sauces, but the best barbecue often has nothing but salt, pepper, smoke and skill as the primary ingredients. A fine example of this is James Beard Foundation Award winner Aaron Franklin who only uses salt and pepper on his award-winning briskets. There is a place for these rubs and sauces but learn to make great food with simple ingredients first before complicating the process too much.
Once upon a time if you wanted to learn all the pitmaster’s secrets you had to swear an oath of allegiance and then start an apprenticeship that required countless hours of stoking fires before you were even allowed to touch the meat. The world is a different place now and the resources to make you a star in your backyard are plentiful.
YouTube and other social media sites provide you direct and free access to thousands of hours of content that is all high quality and built for you to consume right from your phone next to your grill.