Cooking tasty food on metal frame over fire need not be arduous, as long as you follow Ms. Nandita’s easy home tips.
We meat hunters are diehard fans of smoky charcoal stain on that piece of chicken leg. You can be assured that grilling is one of the best styles of cooking. I believe grilling does not only enhance the flavor but also creates an environment of togetherness. In a recent conversation with Executive Chef at Terrace Garden in Radisson Hotel, Ms. Nandita Karan, she gave us a few tips and tricks useful for any novice grill user. Grilling or barbecuing is not as easy as it looks like, but the following will make the process easier.
You do not require any fancy or tools to turn your pork chop into a piece of heaven; the following simple set would do:
- Use long tongs to turn your food,
- Wire bristle brush to clean your grill before putting in a new lot,
- Mop-brush to sauce your ribs for that caramelize finish,
- Offset spatulas long enough to move or flip food like a boss and
- Chimney, if available, for igniting coal without using lighter fluids.
Unlike gas grills, non-gas grill have several fuel options.
- Lump charcoal: They burn very fast and are hot in a just few seconds after starting the fire. These are made from woods such as hickory or mesquites.
- Convenient briquettes: These are best for warming up food because they burn at a moderate rate and act as an indirect source of heat.
- Wood chips: Using wood chips constitute a very modern cooking style. In order to smoke your food with distinctive flavors, wood chips work the best. They deliver smoky flavor with relatively little heat. The real trick in using any flavored chips is to pre-soak them in water for an hour or so.
There are four basic but major preparation rules as:
- Oil the grate: Ms. Karan suggests oiling your grate before starting your show. Any vegetable oil dabbed using kitchen towel or brush will keep your food from sticking to the grill.
- Following the fueling instructions: Whether you are using gas charcoal or wood chips, always make sure you are following the given instructions.
- Checking the heat level: Here rises a big question on everyone’s mind, what temperature to set the grill at? Put your hand about five inches above the grate. If you can hold it for only a second, it is very hot, about approx two seconds, it is hot; if for a few seconds like 3 to 4, the heat is at medium temperature, and if you can put your hand longer than that, the heat is probably low.
- Holding the sauce: This is a crucial part of preparation. You never pour sauce over your food like crazy. Brush the sauce only at the very end of the process. If you are using sugary sauces like barbecue sauce, apply them only at the end so that they don’t burn before your meat is cooked. Apply two to three coats for a sticky result.
Direct vs. indirect
There are two grilling styles -- direct heat, and indirect heat. Direct heat cooking is grilling, directly over the heat as per its name. It is usually used to grill thin cuts of meat, vegetables or even burgers. And indirect heat cooking, as per the name, is cooking in an oven-like environment. Large cuts of meat (which need to be cooked thoroughly), and pizza (which needs to be cooked until cheese strings) often requires a long time of cooking on indirect heat.
One lean of meat can be rare, medium rare, or well-done for which they require different levels of heat.
- To sear, char or crisp your food, cook over high heat.
- To slow cook food, cook over medium to low heat.
- To cook delicate food items, cook over warm or low heat.
- And if you are cooking pork chops, control flare ups from drops of fat, which tends to increase heat, by shifting them around in the grill from time to time.
Mark of a “grill” master
You have to master the art of grill so as to set an impression in front of your friends. By following only these six tips you can be the star of the day:
- First thing first, lightly oil up the grill metal bars to prevent the food from sticking.
- Always place your food on a hot grill and cook until it lifts up easily from the grate.
- Turn the food a 45 degrees to the right or left after lifting.
- You want to continue until clear marks appear on the food.
- Then turn the food over and start cooking the other side for the same amount of time.
- For marks on both sides, follow the same procedure.