Tips to make almost anything on the grill
Clean grill and proper equipment? Check. Quality ingredients and an appetite for barbecue? Also check. Here’s how to successfully grill your favourite foods — as well as a few you may never have considered.
How to grill like a pro in your own backyard
Grilling the perfect steak or chicken breast is easy, especially when you follow a few universal barbecue rules. Food prep is always important when making a meal, but especially when it comes to grilling — flames can flare up and sugary sauces can burn in a matter of seconds. Keep ingredients separate from one another and have everything within easy reach before you get started.
Beef, lamb and other red meat should be grilled over high, direct heat for a short amount of time, about 8-12 minutes depending on the cut. Marinate red meat for at least one hour and up to 24 hours, score the meat several times across before marinating for even bigger flavour.
Due to its relatively low fat content, chicken and other poultry can dry out if it is not grilled properly. For best results, grill chicken and poultry over medium, indirect heat and check for doneness using a meat thermometer (aim for an internal temperature of 70° C or 160° F.) Bone-in chicken and poultry will take longer to cook than boneless cuts.
Pork chops should be grilled over medium, direct heat for a short amount of time as they are prone to drying out. Baste with barbecue sauce as needed, being careful not to burn the sugars in the sauce.
Try cooking seafood in a foil packet or on a pine plank over medium-high heat instead of directly on the grill to prevent sticking and the fish from flaking apart. If you plan on grilling the fish as-is, make sure both the grill and the fish have been liberally coated with a neutral oil first.
Give grilled veggies a headstart by gently par-steaming them before transferring to the grill. A grill basket is an effective tool for keeping the vegetables from falling into the flames. Skewers can also be used to keep grilled vegetables together and make for an attractive presentation.
If you’re bored with veggie burgers but are still looking for a tasty plant-based source of protein, grilled tofu is a blank canvas in terms of flavour and the ways in which it can be served.
- Use extra-firm or firm tofu for best results. Remove excess moisture by pressing a brick of tofu between two plates, weighing the top plate down with canned goods or a heavy pot. This will allow the marinade to be absorbed more efficiently and will create an extra-firm texture that won’t break apart when agitated or flipped while on the grill.
- Marinate sliced tofu in homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours before grilling. Reserve extra sauce for basting as the tofu cooks.
- Grill tofu over direct heat for 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how thick the slices are. The tofu is finished when it feels hot and has visible grill marks on both sides.
- Serve in place of a veggie burger, with a salad or stacked on top a pile of grilled vegetables.
Don’t let this strange-sounding combination scare you away, grilled romaine lettuce is truly a special treat when prepared correctly. When romaine lettuce is exposed to an ultra-hot grill, the naturally occurring sugars found in the lettuce leaves begin to caramelize, the resulting sweetness complements the slight bitter notes of the uncooked inner leaves.
- Romaine lettuce needs to be cooked on a scorching grill in order for the caramelization process to occur.
- Cut romaine lettuce in half lengthwise and season with vegetable oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper before grilling.
- Grill the romaine lettuce cut-side down for 2-3 minutes before grilling the curved side (you’ll probably need to do this in 3 sections) for the same amount of time.
- Serve grilled romaine lettuce with sharp shredded cheese, lemon wedges, crumbled turkey bacon or pancetta and minced fresh herbs.
If you’re already cooking the main course on the grill, why not finish the meal with a selection of fresh fruit that’s been grilled using a similar technique? Choose firm, fleshy fruit such as pineapple, stone fruit, and melon for best results.
- Grill fruit over very high heat. Because fruit has such a small amount of fat, it tends to stick when placed on a semi-hot grill — a searing hot grill will solve this problem. Brush the cut-side of the fruit with a neutral vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray before cooking.
- Thread large chunks of fruit onto a pair of skewers to prevent it from slipping through the grate. Check out this informative article on grilling fresh fruit for even more tips and tricks.