The age-old debate over which grilling method is “better” involves multiple variables, from flavor to cost to convenience. While no studies prove that either is healthier, gas does burn cleaner. Charcoal grills emit more carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot into the atmosphere, contributing to increased pollution and higher concentrations of ground-level ozone. From a taste perspective, on the other hand, many people prefer the smokier, richer taste of food cooked on a charcoal grill.
Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking. While searing doesn’t “seal in” the juices (contrary to popular belief ), it does create improved flavors through caramelization.
If you do choose charcoal grilling, we recommend additive-free lump charcoal, which is just charred wood. Conventional briquettes may contain wood scraps and sawdust as well as coal dust, sodium nitrate, borax and additives like paraffin or lighter fluid. As for lighter fluid, we recommend avoiding it altogether. Lighter fluid can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leave an unpleasant residue on food and pose a serious danger if used improperly.
It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris from prior meals. Scrape again immediately after use.
Even on a clean grill, lean foods may stick when placed directly on the rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
To gauge the temperature of a grill without a thermometer, place your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack; the fire is high if you have to move your hand in 2 seconds, medium if you have to move your hand in 5 seconds and low if you have to move your hand in 10 seconds.
Flare-ups happen when fat drips onto the heat source and catches fire. This causes carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form and accumulate on your food. Meat licked by flames also tastes “off” and flames may char the outside of food before the inside has thoroughly cooked. To reduce flare-ups, select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin. And, keep a squirt bottle of water near the grill to quickly douse any unexpected flare-ups.
Let finished meats rest on a clean platter, tented with foil, for about 10 minutes before carving so juices can redistribute evenly.
Most importantly, relax, and enjoy the meal pool side with friends and family. It’s what the Holidays are about. Now Get out!
If you have some added grilling tips you would like to share, please do so in the comments section below.
NORTH BAY WATER SERVICES, INC. SERVICING
6180 Egret Court, Suite A., Benicia, C A 94510
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