red hot coals

The pros' crash course in grilling

  • Give the live coal some time to mature
  • Use a thermometer on both meat and fish
  • Dry off what goes on the grill
  • Go for marbled meat, firm fish and shellfish
  • Buy better meat and fresher fish - not a fancier grill

Number one when grilling is to give the glow time to reach perfection (and to make sure that any lighter fluid has burnt away). You already knew this, but maybe you are among those who still make the mistake of putting stuff on the grill before it's ready. Don't.

Use a thermometer

Try to have even sized pieces on the grill. Use a fast response thermometer with a thin probe that doesn't damage the meat or fish . Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise even after the food is removed from the source of heat. Meat needs plenty of time to rest and for temperature differences to even out. The process takes less time for fish.

" Fish gets done on the way out to the customer. "
– Pro words of wisdom

The right temperature, meat:

Bleu: up to          45 ° C (cattle) .
Rare :                  45-50 ° C (beef , venison ) .
Medium -rare :   50-54 ° C (beef , venison , veal , lamb).
Medium:             54-58 ° C (beef , venison , veal , lamb).
Medium -well :   58-65 ° C (beef , venison , veal , lamb).
Well done :          65-72 ° C (beef , venison , veal, lamb , pork , poultry )

The right temperature, fish:

Almost all fish you might put on the grill is ready at an internal temperature of 48 to 52 degrees. keep your aim too low rather than too high (and remember that the temperature continues to rise after grilling).

Major exceptions - and a delicious treat on the grill - are tuna , swordfish and marlin. With these you want to go for a reddish-pink, juicy core. Aim for 31 degrees.

Dry off what goes on the grill

The chemical explanation behind the taste of grilled fish and meat goes by the name of "Maillard reaction". The wonderful scents and flavors from griulled food come from carbohydrates and amino acids reacting with each other. This process will get underway faster if the the protein is dry on the surface when you grill it - and your food will tend not to get stuck to the hot grill grate

How to grill meat:

  • Do not be afraid of high temperatures when grilling. Allow the meat some time to rest.
  • Flip when juices are oozing on top. Cooking the other side always goes faster. If apiece of meat is twice as thick, it takes four times as long to get ready.
  • Acid ingredients in marinades tenderize the meat, at least on the surface. Skip the oil in barbecue marinades, it adds no flavor and drops off, causing flames and smoke. Marinate well before grilling.
  • Preferably add pepper after grilling, burnt pepper tastes bad.
  •   No need to go too fast with your barbecue tongs. Wait for caramelization/the Maillard process to separate the meat from the grill grate.

Use the oven 1

If necessary - especially if you are grilling large chunks of meat - round off the cooking process in a hot oven . Using the oven to get a perfect result is not cheating, it's what professionals do.

Use the oven 2

You can also use the oven before grilling . For example; cook a steak at low temperature in the oven the day before and add the final touch on the grill - in one piece or in slices that only require a quick, sizzling, tasty finish. Or try marinating a whole chicken in brine and then cooking it slowly in the oven for several hours at a low temperature, for example just below 70°C. Add the final, tasty touch on the grill before serving.

Boil ribs before

It is a good idea to boil ribs and baby back ribs to tenderness before putting them on the grill. A short time over searing heat is all that's needed before serving.And you can get a perfect result by pasting the ribs with sugary glaze without the risk of charing.

How to grill fish:

  • Select fish with care when grilling . Firm fish such as salmon, trout, halibut, tuna, monkfish and catfish are a good bet. Shellfish such as scampi are also suitable for the grill.
  • Wait for the surface to sear (see Maillard porcess, above). Coating pieces of fish with a thin layer of oil can make handling easier.
  • Give the coal time to reach a mature glow. The grate should be hot and clean.
  • Grilling with the skin intact can simplify things. It keeps the tender meat from falling apart and comes off easily from the grate. Try grilling fish whole and stuffed with herbs, you can tie it up with string as you would a steak.

Use a wide spatula

Half an hour in brine makes fish protein more firm and easier to handle. Use a large spatula to flip it, not tongs. A large grilling fork with tines that fit between the grates can also work. Flip fish only once.

One grilled surface is enough

To avoid flipping delicate fish on the grill, you can choose to grill one surface only. If the fish has a skin side – grill that side. If your grill has a lid, you can add flavor with smoke from juniper and other "spicy" sorts of wood.

Flames from oily fish

Fatty fish often have firm meat and are suitable for grilling. If dipping fat catches fire and causes smoke, shift the fish and cook it over indirect heat.

Buy a gridiron

A double gridiron encloses the fish on both sides and hold it in place during grilling. It's not a bad idea to have one around.

Tricky skewers

Morcels of fish and pieces of colorful vegetables look great on skewers, but fish, seafood and vegetables take different amounts of time to cook and should preferably be grilled separately for the best possible result. If you still want to go with skewers, use even sized pieces that will cook through – more or less – at the same time.

Cleave lobsters the right way

Cleave the lobster through the head before you grill it. Doing this correctly is actually the gentlest way to kill a lobster. On the lobster's back plate, behind the eyes, there is an indentation that looks like a "Y" . Insert tip of the knife there and cut up to the head. You can boil a big lobster before grilling it to get a succulent result.

Grill lobsters the righ way

Grill lobster halves with the meat side facing down first – quickly and with intensive, searing heat . Flip them and round off the process with the shell side facing downwards. At this stage you can easily flavor the meat with the marinade, glaze, or just a dollop of butter.

A clean grill is a better grill

It's importent to keep your grill clean. Layer upon layer of grease and ashes is not going to do neither meat, fish nor vegetables any good. Make sure to give that old BBQ a thorough cleaning every now and then. A clean grate is guaranteed to give you a more impressive grill pattern, it will bring out cleaner (literally) flavors, and it will also improve how the heat does its job on wahtever you are cooking. The pros all seem to have different favorite methods for keeping things tidy and avoiding open flames during the act of actually grilling, but you might consider equipping yourself with a steel brush, water, kitchen paper and/or old newspapers. 

I always have a sturdy steel brush, water spray and kitchen paper at the ready.

Albert Lindo, head chef and grill enthusiast

Finally :

Don't buy a fancier grill than your neighbor - buy better meat and fresher seafood.

Have a great grilling season!

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