Happy graduation season! Along with the caps, gowns, speeches (and tears!) are the barbecues and outdoor parties that accompany this time of year. Why not give graduates another chance to build their skills by working the grill at their own party? After all, what better way to say “thank you for supporting me and helping me meet my goals” than by making a perfect burger or other grilled dish for family and friends? So before their next step, let’s enroll graduates in grilling 101.
Before grilling, teach your graduate the basics of preparing a grill:
Gas or charcoal? Choose the fuel that works best for you and what you’re cooking. If you choose charcoal, consider a natural charcoal (and avoid using lighter fluid) to reduce the number of chemicals you cook with.
Give the grill adequate time (15-25 minutes) to heat up so that bacteria that may be on the grates will be killed and to ensure that it reaches the right temperature for cooking. Aim for 250-300˚(low heat), 300-350˚(medium heat), 400-450˚(high heat). Once grill is heated, use a metal brush to scrape debris that remains on the grates.
Oil the grill. Paper towels soaked with vegetable oil (and held with long, metal tongs) can be a good for making sure that grill grates are well oiled, and that food is less likely to stick.
Make sure the right tools are on hand for the job. A basket or grilling tray is ideal for cooking veggies, fruit and other small food evenly. If you’re considering grilling pizza then using a ceramic tile or pizza stone would result in a more perfect crust.
You can’t pass grilling 101 without mastering a few grilling techniques:
If you are grilling steak, take it out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a bit. For burgers, chicken and seafood straight from the fridge to the grill is fine.
Speaking of animal proteins, we want to limit the charring as much as possible. Follow these guidelines to do just that.
Food safety—especially when feeding a crowd—should be a top consideration. Keep in mind that the spatula or brush you used on raw meat shouldn’t be used on cooked.
Hands off the spatula unless you need to flip burgers. Don’t use the spatula to press down on burgers, which only results in squeezing out delicious juices that you most definitely want in the burger and not in your grill.
Grill open or closed? Another beginner move is to keep the grill cover open, which not only impacts cooking time, it allows all that heat that you just built up in the grill to escape. Close the grill to turn it into more of an oven and allow for even cooking too.
Now that your graduate is a grilling expert it’s time to give them a few recipes that are just a notch above burgers and dogs and sure to impress.