There are so many options if you’re a fan of grilled food, with many of the best appliances being aimed at cooking in the great outdoors. If you’ve got a garden, patio or even a balcony then an outdoor grill or barbecue makes perfect sense, especially if the sun is shining. Of course, if it’s not you can always head back inside and use an indoor electric grill instead.
However, no matter whether you’re grilling inside or out, there are a few common mistakes that even the best of us can make. I should know, I’ve cremated plenty of burgers in the past and, equally, have underdone my fair share of kebabs too. Getting your grilled food right takes a little practice but, armed with the right machine, you can quickly turn yourself into a dab hand.
If you’re in the market for an outdoor machine, take a look at T3's best BBQ buying guide, while anyone who fancies their next grill session inside should explore the options in our best electric grill guide. In the meantime, read on for the five mistakes everyone makes with grilling and how to avoid them…
1. Get the heat right
No matter what type of grilling appliance you’re using, it’s vital to make sure you’ve got enough heat going to get the job done. Most modern appliances have been optimised to get hot quickly, due to most us being time poor and pretty impatient.
Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to take your time and check the appliance is up to its optimal operating temperature before putting food on to the grill. Doing this prematurely could result in ruining the overall cooking process and leaving you with hit and miss results. If in doubt, invest in a temperature probe for checking that food is cooked through when you’re ready to serve up those portions.
2. Trim the fat
Whatever the grill, if you’ve made sure to get it hot enough the next issue you may encounter with chunky meat cuts is flare-ups. If you’ve got, say, a big piece of steak and it’s quite fatty then too much fat can cause issues. There’s nothing wrong with having some fat as it’ll improve the taste and helps meat cook too.
However, it may be an idea to trim off any excess, which should result in more even cooking of the meat as a whole. Otherwise, too many flames from melting fat could end up charring your cuts of meat and render them rather unpleasant to eat.
3. Clean as you go
The fun part of grilling might be the cooking part and the cleaning up the least appealing. Nevertheless, it’s a very good idea to clean as you go and remove any food deposits or residues before you put your grill away for the day. You’ll definitely want to avoid letting the grill become stone cold and not getting rid of any mess as it will be much harder to clean off prior to the next use.
In addition, make sure any surfaces are cleaned before you heat up the grill again, otherwise you may find that old grubby grill areas that haven’t been cleaned could end up tainting any fresh foodstuffs you put on the grill the next time you fire it up.
4. Proper planning
One of the fundamental things with successful grilling revolves around proper preparation. If you make sure you have everything you need before you start throwing things on the grill, you’ll find that pulling it all together into a successful operation will be all the more easier.
That means chopping any veg so that it is good to go, for kebabs and suchlike as well as trimming any cuts of meat so there’s not a mountain of fat to deal with when it hits the heat – see above. Similarly, ensuring you have all the tools and utensils you need, along with things like buns, baps and even serving aids – like plates will streamline your grill-time workflow.
5. Exercise patience
It’s easy to get impatient when you’re grilling but good things take time, especially if someone has asked for their steak to be well done. As mentioned earlier, arming yourself with a temperature probe makes a lot of sense if you’re keen to ensure food is cooked through. Equally, the visual test is a great way of telling when food is good to go, so lookout for some nicely seared griddle marks and if you think it needs a while longer then let your grill do the hard work.
Equally, don't walk away and start prepping something else without keeping an eagle eye on your existing grill plate portions. Seasoned grillers know that things can change from good to bad quite quickly, so successful and harmonious grilling is all about the timing as much as anything.