It goes without saying that finding the best quality ingredients is the first step in any great meal, but where grilling on charcoal or gas is concerned, special attention must be given to selecting the right ingredients. Kosher Salt is a must have for taste, ionised salt tends to add a metallic taste to your food. And I always roast some garlic and onions for added flavour to the meal or for other recipes I have going. Rule of thumb – garlic is good.
For Ribs, Tri-tip, and Chicken, its best to add BBQ sauce toward the last 10 to 15 minutes of the grilling. I love to use doctored up Open Pit myself, only because I grew up with it and like it’s tang. Or for the more adventurers out there try a more exotic recipe like Strawberry Barbecue Sauce
For grilling steaks or chops, thicker is always better – at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches is what I recommend for best grilling results. If I don’t see the cut I want at the counter, I always ask the butcher for a custom cut. (They live for this!)
I prefer grilling on charcoal, but gas will work if done properly. The most important factor is that the grill is clean and in good repair. I always start by emptying any left over ashes from the bottom of my charcoal grill and cleaning the grill itself with a high quality wire bush, I also make sure to clean both sides of the grill. Once the grill is hot I clean it again.
Always make sure your utensils are clean and at hand. I usually have a long handled spatula, tongs and fork and oven mitts ready to go. I also keep a second, especially long handled, pair of tongs on hand reserved for moving hot charcoal into proper position. It’s a good idea to have a spray bottle handy in case the coals flare up and to keep your food moist while cooking. I use marinades in my spray bottle. For chicken I find that plain old flat beer is a great spray all by itself, or you can use your favourite mop sauce with great results (be sure to strain mop sauce first or spay bottle will clog). If your using a Webber type grill use a spray bottle, if you’re using a larger grill you can use a mop brush. Another couple tools you’ll find use full is a rib rack and ceramic poultry Roasters. The Rib Rack holds your rib and allows smoke to evenly surround your ribs for a more even cook/smoke. The Ceramic poultry Roaster lets you make better than beer can chicken. The ceramic roaster is a safer, faster and easier way to roast whole chickens on your grill, smoker or in you oven. The ceramic helps cook from the inside, sealing in juices. If you never used one I suggest you try it.
Next on the list are two types of thermometers; a digital and oven thermometer. I personally prefer the digital meat thermometer with two probes one for meat and one for inside grill or smoker. By monitoring both the meat and inside grill temperature, I can accurately control cooking time and quality. (One of the best tips I can pass along).
I always plan to manage the heat in my grills by cooking area. If I am preparing a very thick cut of meat or roasting a large bird, I use indirect heat with charcoal lined up on either side of a drip pan placed directly under the food. If I am grilling chicken, burgers, steaks or chops, I pile the coal to one side of the grill and spread them just a bit, always making sure there is at least one forth of the cooking area with no coals under it whatsoever. This is important if you are to manage the cooking time and temperature for the best results. I use the oven thermometer to be sure the temperature of the gill itself stays somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your using a smoker you want your temp around 200-250 Fahrenheit (in most cases) since you use smoking for slower and longer times and lower temps.
I start grilling steaks by placing them directly over the hottest coals, just long enough to sear them on each side to the point where they do not stick to the grill. Once I have accomplished this, I move them to a medium heat portion of the grill, cover, but continue monitoring the temperature with my digital thermometer. If the meat begins to char on the outside but is still at room temperature on the inside, I move it to a cooler part of the grill and cover. I also make sure to turn the meat often enough to allow individual surfaces too cool and avoid burning.
If I am preparing a large bird such as a turkey or roasting hen, I use my second grill to keep a second source of coals hot so that I can add them to the main grill. This is necessary due to the fact that the long grilling times (up to four hours for a turkey) requires the addition of coals during roasting in order to maintain temperature. This is where the second pair of long handled tongs comes in handy indeed. The second grill can be used for grilling vegetables while the main course is cooking..
I never use charcoal lighter fluid to start my coals. Lighter fluid will soak in and will spoil the flavour of the meal during the first critical minutes of grilling. You might not believe this, but you will understand the first time you grill without lighter fluid. You Will Definitely TASTE THE Difference ! Charcoal lighter fluid flavour is stronger, you’ll realise and not using it will allow the smoke to emerge as a more dominate flavour. I prefer an electric starter because I can heat up more coals at once, but a charcoal chimney with a wood or paper starter also works great,. You might want a couple of these chimneys for the long haul. Just be sure whatever you use is certified as safe for grilling.
I use various types of charcoal, wood chips and chunks to create the flavours I am looking for. Once I have a good start on my coals, I may decide to add other wood chips to deliver more flavours. My favourites are pecan, alder, cheery, apple, and hickory in that order. I don’t always use extra chips, but when I do, I make sure to add them before the meat is place on the grill. I keep in mind that any additional flavour they add will be absorbed in the first 3 to 5 minutes of grilling. These chips can be added to a foil pack for slow release, but I find that just dropping them on the coals works fine.
Once I have my grill up to the proper temperature, I plan on a grilling time of at least 45 minutes for a well cut T-bone, New York, Rib eye or pork chop. As I mentioned earlier, large birds can take four or more hours. For indirect roasting it is very important to maintain the temperature of the grill as I described above.
Chicken is also best done slowly. If speed is the name of game – think seafood, hotdogs or hamburgers.
Well there you have it, The Kingfish’s top five grilling tips. If there is any thing I forgot, don’t hesitate to contact The Kingfish.