General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Beginner griller here, what advice do you have for me?

Asked by 2davidc8 (3841 points ) May 27th, 2012

So, I got this Weber charcoal barbeque kettle, and I would like to learn to grill. Never done this before. Any expert jellies out there would like to give me some advice? I also would like to know what I should do to make cleanup easier?

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27 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

I am not an expert – but one thing I do know you shouldn’t do, and a mistake I have seen many people making, is flipping the steak repeatedly. Don’t play with the meat. Just turn it once or you will end up with tough meat. This is a site I like for recipes but it also has a really good page on cooking on your barbecue. It has heaps of good hints about the whole process of using a barbecue and cooking food on one.

We have a Weber and (we haven’t recently but) we have cooked many roasts in ours over the years. We have even cooked the Christmas turkey in the Weber. It is pretty hot here in summer and the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, so we use the Weber.

Oh and don’t forget to invite us all over for a beer and a steak.

jazmina88's avatar

chicken is hard on a grill. too rare. so I boil it a bit, then sauce it up and then grill for the smoky flavor.

Fish and/or veggies in tin foil with butter is easy to clean up.

get a good sear on the meat to hold in juice. dont flip too much. Listen to Bellatrix.

digitalimpression's avatar

This guy has some good tips.

rooeytoo's avatar

Spray the grill with oil BEFORE you turn on the gas!

simone54's avatar

Know your hotspots. Even a new grill is going to have uneven heat. You’ll need to find where it’s hotter and cooler to cook properly. For example, when you are cooking chicken you may want use high heat to seer on the grill lines and let it cook through on a cooler spot.

Your burgers will turn out better if you cover the grill in foil. I never understood why people would want to lose all that good burger juice in the depths of their grill.

More later…

elbanditoroso's avatar

There is a tendency to overcook. Resist the temptation. Cut into the meat to see if it is done. Don’t assume.

some_mascot's avatar

Be patient, dont rush things. Buy charcoal baskets so that you use a consistent amount of charcoal and have the ability to move it if you need to. Cook chicken indirectly and beef directly over the coals. Season hours before you grill. Cook beef that has thawed and is a little above room temperature. Be patient.

CWOTUS's avatar

1. NEVER spray starter fluid on coals that seem to have gone “out” and need to be relit. You risk your life in doing that. Put the fuel away after you spray the cold coals. You won’t be using it again. Is a steak important enough to risk your life? Start the grill early, let the starter fluid burn out – you don’t want that taste in your food! – and get your pile of coals glowing and red, then spread them out evenly. Even at that point you’re not ready to start your cooking. Let everything get good and hot before you start.

2. Cook when the coals are generally white around the edges and all surfaces. Those babies are hot now. (Keep in mind they will probably also be hot enough to start fires hours after you’re done, too. Don’t put coals in a flammable container “just because you’re done”. Let them burn out in the grill body. That’s what it’s for.)

3. As one of my uncles told me when he was helping me carve a pumpkin decades ago: “Start small. You can always cut more off, but you can’t cut ‘less’ once you’ve started.” The way that applies to grilling is: Take the food off “early” rather than “late”. You can always cook more, but you can’t cook “a little bit less than that”.

Charles's avatar

Wait until the last minute to apply BBQ sauce otherwise it will scorch.
Use low fat meat to avoid flare ups.
Keep the lid on to avoid flare ups.
For big hunks of meat like tri tip or huge chicken breasts, let the meat get to room temperature before grilling so maybe pull it out of the fridge four hours before grilling. This will help prevent overcooking the outside and undercooking the inside.
Charles’s Trip Tip cooking: Rub Tri Tip with Montreal rub, bring to room temperature, heat grill to high, place meat on grill for two minutes each side to sear, then turn flame to low and turn every ten minutes for a total of 40 minutes. Perfect, rare/medium rare in middle and not overcooked on outside.
Use a spatula not a fork to turn meat to keep juices in.
A good simple recipe for pork ribs is plain old salt and pepper.
When preparing a plate of burgers for a crew of people which includes kids, Grill the burgers, place them on buns and cut the burgers in half so the kids only grab a half a burger at a time – otherwise, they’ll eat about a half a burger and waste the rest.

gailcalled's avatar

Stand up-wind.

wallabies's avatar

Just go for it. I never really got why people make such a big deal about grilling. It’s not that much different from using a stove or oven, IMO. I think the most important rule in cooking meat is DO NOT OVERCOOK!!! There may be nothing more depressing than watching someone turn a fine piece of meat into dry charcoal. Start with steak. It’s pretty forgiving.

Kardamom's avatar

Never put your cooked meat (or anything else that you are going to eat) back onto the same platter where you had your uncooked meat. The juices in the uncooked meat are not safe to eat. Have a separate platter waiting for the cooked items. Also don’t make any sauces or gravies out of the uncooked meat juices. See Meat Safety Tips

Know the difference between Direct vs Indirect Cooking and when to use each of these methods, with which foods.

To avoid burning, or under-cooking chicken (which is responsible for lots of picnic food poisoning) your best bet is to Cook Your Chicken in the Oven first and then finish it on the grill.

Here’s some more info on how to avoid illness by Boiling or Baking Chicken First before it’s finished on the barbecue. This site also gives some tips on when and how to use marinades, rubs and sauces on your chicken.

If you are making kabobs, it is best to grill up skewers of vegetables separately from your meat skewers. This is because it takes the meat longer to cook than the veggies, and your veggies will burn before your meat is cooked thoroughly. Also, leave a tiny bit of room between your pieces, whether it’s a veggie skewer or a meat skewer, so that the pieces don’t touch each other. This will allow the parts in the middle to cook evenly and completely. Here’s a recipe that shows you how to make Chicken Kabobs and Vegetable Kabobs Separately

Here’s some info about Cooking Potatoes on the Grill with several different methods and tips.

Be safe! Here are some Barbecuing Safety Tips. Not mentioned on this list are: keep your hair tied up and out of your face, keep your sleeves and apron and apron ties secured, keep children and pets and drunks away from the grill, make sure your grill is situated on a flat, firm level surface.

Invest in a good Meat Thermometer

Clean your grill regularly and properly. Here’s a How To Guide for Cleaning Grills

hearkat's avatar

In addition to the first-rate advice above; I suggest finding local farms in your area and getting the freshest possible ingredients. Many food-borne illnesses are from foods that are mass-produced, and you’ll be amazed at the flavor difference. Just do a web search for: farms and the name of your state, and you’ll probably find a couple sites that list them. You can even ask the farmers themselves, as most know each other and love to see the public support for local agriculture, and they may even have some free published directories to hand out.

Trillian's avatar

So, when are you going to fire it up and invite us?

CWOTUS's avatar

Oh, here’s another suggestion: Don’t just grill meat.

If you soak some ears of sweet corn in cool water for a few hours (with at least one or two layers of husk still on the ears) and roast the soaking wet ears in the husk (until the husk starts to burn after drying), then you might even consider eating it without butter and salt. It’s that good.

I also have a “flat plate” grill replacement where I often roast peppers and onions for fajitas (sometimes those are so good I don’t even put meat in the fajita). I haven’t done any kebobs myself, but I’ve had some roasted by others (pepper & onion chunks especially), and they’re pretty fine.

And always toast hamburger buns on the grill. A hamburger without a toasted bun is… well, it’s dorg food. (Not that I’ve never eaten dorg food, but still…)

Trillian's avatar

^^salivating here. How’‘bout you fire up the grill and invite us over?

hearkat's avatar

@Trillian: If you’re anywhere near New Brunswick, NJ, we,ve got potatoes roasting and are putting on Starks that have marinated since last night. There’s also homemade coleslaw and cucumber salad. We have an extra steak because my son is at his friend’s.

CWOTUS's avatar

Or if that’s too far to drive and you have time tomorrow night, I’m going to grill a nice London broil that I’ll have with rice pilaf and a salad. I would have done baked potatoes, too, but I forgot to get any this week, and I don’t want to be shopping now. That’s near Hartford, CT, and rain or shine.

Trillian's avatar

You guys are wonderful. Stuck here in east KY, but I’m off for the next three days, so I guess time off is almost as good as grilling out with good company. (kiss)

Blackberry's avatar

@hearkat Omfg I just left NJ. :(

2davidc8's avatar

Thank you all for the great tips!
OMG, @Kardamom, you were so thorough with those links and all. Much appreciated!

I plan to start with the basic easier stuff, then if I get any good at it, I might graduate to the “harder’ stuff (one of those fancier gas grills).

@Bellatrix, @Trillian, remember I’m a beginner, are you sure you wanna come over?

BTW, do those chimney charcoal starters really work?

Bellatrix's avatar

Absolutely! We would come over for the company – the food is just a bonus. If it doesn’t work out well – there is always toast.

Not sure what they are, we use charcoal beads and ordinary fire lighters.

Trillian's avatar

I’ll make some salad, (But no tossing, @ETpro)! and a dessert, Bell can mix a few drinks and bring one of her specialty sides, it’ll be fine. Get out there and start grilling!

Kardamom's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes! To the peppers and onions! And the flat top is a wonderful addition to a barbecue set up. My cousin made some killer veggies on the 4th of July last year. The corn sounds scrumptious! Portobello mushrooms are also really good (and easy), especially if you’re going the more simple route with just burgers in case you got a vegetarian such as myself at your party.

I bet you look fine in your chef’s toque!

hearkat's avatar

@2davidc8: Yes, the chimney starters work, and eliminate the need for nasty chemical fluids. We have a ceramic smoker grill – kamado style – and we use the natural lump coal. It burns and tastes better than briquettes.

2davidc8's avatar

OK, helpful jellies, haven’t had a chance to go through all the links yet, but I do appreciate your help. From all the above, only @some_mascot and @Charles mention seasoning, and you seem to indicate that you do this before grilling. So, in general, is it advisable to season your food before, during, or after grilling? Does it matter what kind of food you’re grilling (beef, chicken, fish, veggies)?

@hearkat Thanks for the tip. Re: “natural lump coal”—where can you get that?

hearkat's avatar

@2davidc8- The natural charcoal is available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Whole Foods, and many grocery stores carry it now too.

As for when to season, it depends on the meat and the method of preparation. There’s a ton of good recipes on line, and most grill manufacturers have grilling guides with recipes and usually have online forums, too.

We love the McCormick’s Grill Mates marinades – especially the Montreal Steak. We marinate the steak for at least an hour, and then my sweetie uses an app on his phone from Omaha Steaks for determining when to flip and when it’s finished, based on the thickness of the cut and the desired doneness.

Again, the fresher and more local the ingredients, the less seasoning is needed. We’ve gotten so accustomed to food bred for long shelf life that we’ve forgotten how it’s supposed to really taste!

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