No doubt about it, America loves to grill. In Florida, our grill season is a little longer than in other regions of the country. We have access to the freshest seafood and a variety fruits and vegetables grown right here in our state, and there’s nothing better than getting that perfect char on a piece of meat cooked just to your liking.
There are some standard tips — like start with a clean grill, only flip your meats once, and make sure the grill is fully heated before cooking. Here are a few more tricks to add to your grilling game.
To Dry Rub or to Marinate? That Is the Question
We’ve been marinating meats for eons to infuse flavor with herbs, tenderize meat with an acid and add moisture with an oily fat. While marinating requires soaking meats anywhere from 20 minutes to overnight, dry rubs can be applied just before cooking.
Dry rubs are just what they sound like — herbs and seasonings applied directly to the meat without any additional liquid. Some people prefer dry rubs for timing’s sake and also because they allow the meat to start searing almost immediately. When you marinate, you have to wait for the extra liquid to evaporate before that starts to happen.
Both techniques produce some pretty delicious outcomes. We think it comes down to preference.
Don’t Cook Cold and Don’t Overcook
As a rule of thumb, don’t ever place cold food on the grill. The outside will always cook faster than the inside of any food item. If the inner temperature is cold, it could prevent the meat from cooking evenly. You’ll end up with a center that’s too rare or outer layers that are overcooked. Let all food come to room temperature before applying heat.
Speaking of overcooking …
Food continues to cook even after it’s moved away from the heat source. Consider slightly undercooking anything you grill and letting it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Not only will this seal in any juices, it will also make sure it’s served just right.
If you’re unsure about cooking times, use a meat thermometer to confirm that the meat is the desired temperature.
When You Don’t Have a Grill
Maybe your condo board doesn’t let you have a grill on your patio, and you don’t want to use the shared grill in the common area. Maybe the weather isn’t agreeing with your grilling agenda. Either way, you’re probably still looking for that same delicious chargrilled flavor.
One option is the grill pan, but not all grill pans are created equal. Because you need high heat and even distribution of that heat, we suggest a cast iron grill pan. You can preheat the grill pan in the oven and move it to an eye on the stove. Cast iron is also oven safe, so you can just as easily leave it in the oven to re-create that covered grill cooking environment.
This is also where the broiler setting on the oven comes in handy. Even if you don’t have a grill pan, using the broiler offers the highest heat setting and can help seal in the juices while creating that char we all love from the grill.