May is the official month of barbecue here in the US and like a lot of our favorite things, it has a holiday unto itself. That’s right, May 16th is National BBQ Day!
With the weather warming up there’s no better time to break out those special recipes, fire up the grill, and start barbecuing again. If you’re planning on doing a little celebrating this year make sure to brush up on your grill skills beforehand.
Whether you’re grilling up chicken, searing some steak, or sautéing some vegetables there are some notable steps you should pay careful attention to. These tips should help you on your way to creating some mouthwatering dishes everyone will enjoy this National BBQ Day.
How to Grill Chicken:
It’s It’s hard to go wrong with grilled chicken no matter what time of year it is. For National BBQ Day though it’s probably a necessity! No matter what style of chicken you decide to throw on the grill there are certain things you need to pay attention to. Be sure to consider these steps:
Pick the right cut – The larger the cut of chicken (whole birds, bone-in chicken breasts, whole legs), the longer the cooking time. Stick with boneless or smaller pieces if the cooking needs to happen quickly.
Pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts – They tend to be shaped a bit uneven. Spending a couple of minutes pounding the thicker end will help reduce cooking time and ensure the meat is cooked evenly.
Butterfly whole chickens – Grilling a whole chicken can be tricky. Butterfly the chicken instead of grilling it whole. This shortens grilling time and helps in cooking the chicken evenly throughout.
Flavor before you grill – Chicken is pretty easy to add flavor to. Take some time to marinate or season the chicken before it goes on the grill to ensure the flavors have time to penetrate the meat.
Keep away from high heat – Chicken needs to be cooked thoroughly but you don’t want to burn the skin. It’s best to cook over medium, indirect heat for most of the cooking time.
Keep grill covered – Keeping the grill lid closed will ensure the temperature remains optimal. A covered grill also allows the heat to encase the meat entirely ensuring it cooks thoroughly.
Sauce or baste often at the end – If you’re adding sauce to your chicken, it’s best to do so at the end because it can burn.
How to Grill Fish:
Cooking fish to perfection can be a difficult thing to learn and for beginners it can be a little intimidating. But if you love fish then you’ve got to learn how to cook fish on the grill. Whether you’re already quite skilled grilling fish or trying it for the first time, there are certain things you need pay attention to. Be sure to consider these steps:
Choose the right kind of fish – You don’t want your fish to fall apart on the grill so choose a fish with firm flesh. Muscular fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, and mahi-mahi are always a great choice.
Choose the right cut – Steaks and thick fillets are usually best to use as they’re thicker and hold up well.
Set to medium heat – You’ll want to grill over a medium fire, so if you’re on a gas grill that means about 350 F. If you’re grilling with charcoal, you’ll need to use about half a chimney of coals.
Don’t over marinate – It’s easy to get carried away with marinade, but for fish just keep it simple. Leaving your fish in marinade too long ( +30 min) can cause the texture to change. Simply dip your fish in the marinade, let the excess drain, and throw it on the grill. Brushing the marinade on while your fish cooks is another great method.
Bring to room temp before grilling – Remember to let your fish come to room temperature before throwing them on to cook. Leave covered, on the counter for about 30-60 minutes before grilling.
Leave the skin on – The skin will turn crispy and actually helps protect the fish from being overcooked. If you are cooking fillets be sure to start with the skin side down, turning them over halfway through.
Wood planks for the win – The easiest method of all is grilling fish on a plank, usually cedar but sometimes cherry, maple, or oak as well. If you’ve soaked the plank properly (+2 hours), then the it should start to smolder adding that rich smoky flavor to the meat. You can use planks with gas and charcoal grills, so give it a try if you haven’t done so before.
How to Grill Steak:
Chances are if you’re an avid griller, then you’ve seen your fair share of steaks on the grill. For anyone who might need a little refresher though, these tips should help you on the way to cooking some perfect steaks for the holiday:
Seasoning is important – For a traditional steak generously salt your steak in advance and let sit, uncovered, for at least a few hours. This helps to season the meat all the way through while at the same time drawing out any excess moisture, which will result in an even better sear.
Dry Rubs – If you are looking to add some extra flavor to the meat, we highly recommend seasoning it using a dry rub like Schultz’s Seasoning & Rub. By definition, a dry rub has no moisture so it will act similar in nature to the salt used for a traditional steak. You can apply it just before cooking or let it settle into the meat for half an hour or so. Either way, it will help create a savory crust on the steaks.
Marinades – Marinades can be another great way to add some flavor to the meat. However, the beef doesn’t absorb the marinade flavor the same way as rubs and spices. Rather, the flavor stays on the surface of the meat and that’s the punch of flavor you’ll get from the marinade. Also, the using a marinade does tend to require a bit more time in preparation as the meat will need time to marinate in the liquid. Less tender cuts like steaks should be marinated for at least six hours, but make sure to place them in the refrigerator. Never marinate your steaks at room temperature.
Make sure the meat is dry – Having salted the meat and letting it sit for a few hours you should pat it dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture still remaining.
Keep the grill hot – Preheat your grill to medium-high or high. You want it hot before adding the meat. The heat will help you keep the steaks from sticking and achieve an amazing sear.
Don’t cut to check if it’s done – There are plenty of methods out there to check if your steaks are done, but the easiest and most accurate is using a digital thermometer. Cutting the steak or poking it with a fork allows the juices and flavor leach out, so make sure you’ve got one on hand.
Let the meat rest before enjoying it – We know this is easier said than done, but allowing your steak to rest before cutting and serving will let all of the juices settle. Generally, you should let the meat rest five minutes for every inch of thickness.
Recommended Cooking Time – Place the steaks on the grill until slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue grilling for 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare (135 degree F), 5 to 7 minutes for medium (140 degrees F) or 8 to 10 minutes for medium well (150 degrees F).
Recommended Recipes – Perfectly Grilled Steak
How to Grill Vegetables:
Grilling vegetables is often overlooked, as prime cuts of meat tend to draw most of our attention. Yet there’s a lot to love about grilled veggies and they’re actually about as simple to make as anything on the grill. Don’t forget to add them to your National BBQ Day lineup! Here are some tips to help:
Set the grill to medium-high – This means about 400 to 425 F, so if you’re using a gas grill it’s as easy as setting it to that heat. On the other hand, if you’re grilling with charcoal, you’ll need to use about 3/4 of a chimney of coals.
Start with a clean grill – This is important for all of the items above as well, but it’s especially important when it comes to grilled veggies since their flavors can be often be easily overpowered. Make sure to scrape the grill clean before adding vegetables.
Coat the veggies before they go on the grill – Adding spices to your vegetables before they go on the grill is simple to do. Just blend spices or Schultz’s Seasoning & Rub with olive oil, and then brush on or toss together in a bowl.
Grill with the cover off – You usually want to keep the lid closed to keep the good smoke in when cooking meat, but that smoke can still overpower veggies. It’s best to cook them separate so you can keep the lid open, allowing your veggies to better retain their flavor.
Use flat metal skewers for small pieces – Some items, like mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and brussels sprouts are easier to cook using a skewer. We recommend using flat skewers rather than the ordinary needle-shaped kind as they tend to keep from rolling around, and are generally easier to turn and rotate on the grill.