With grilling season well underway, we asked Kalamazoo grillmaster Russ Faulk to share his top 5 grilling don’ts.
1. Tough Chicken Breasts: A boneless, skinless chicken breast can be fantastic off the grill, but its shape is not conducive to being perfectly-cooked throughout. Either the pointy end is overcooked, or the thicker end is undercooked. The best solution is to pound the breast to an even thickness (called a palliard), and then grill it over high heat. The thinner and more uniform cross section allows it to cook quickly and evenly.
2. Burning the Sauce: Barbecue sauce is not a marinade. It has a lot of sugar in it, and sugar can burn easily on the grill. To prevent burning, brush sauce on at the end of cooking and then quickly mark it on the grill for a nice, caramelized flavor.
Grillmaster Russ’ Onion Marmalade Barbecue Sauce
3. Losing the Crust: It takes time to form a perfectly-browned crust on food, and that crust has all the best flavors in it. If you don’t wait long enough before turning the food, you can see that beautiful crust left behind – stuck to the grill grate. Foods like salmon and burgers will typically release themselves from the grill grate when the time is right to flip them over. If you flip them too early, the food is more likely to stick, and you’ll leave the crust behind. You can help the food cook better by installing a heavier grill grate in your grill. The heavier the grate, the more heat it can hold, and the more easily food will release.
4. Overcrowding the Grill: There are several problems with squeezing too much food on the grill. First, it can be much more challenging to keep tabs on everything. It is significantly more difficult to grill 24 burgers at a time to perfection than it is to nail 12. Also, it is ideal to have a “safe zone” – a cooler zone of the grill that you can move food to in order to slow down the action or deal with flare-ups.
5. Cold-start Cooking: Some people toss cold meat on a cold grill and then fire it up. Any grill should be hot before the food goes on. Not only does this deliver better results, it is necessary for food safety. Be patient. Wait for the grill to get thoroughly hot, and then start cooking.