With grilling season upon us, many restaurateurs and caterers are firing up the commercial charcoal grill and dishing out delicious steaks, ribs, sausages, and much more. If you own a steakhouse, barbecue restaurant, or smokehouse, perfectly cooking a variety of meats is essential to the success of your business. However, even grill masters can develop bad habits or make simple mistakes that prevent them from taking advantage of the endless possibilities of grilling. If you're looking for grilling tips that will take your skills to the next level, our list of the top 5 grilling mistakes you're probably making (and how to fix them) is sure to increase profits and keep customers coming back for more.
According to "Professional Hardcore Carnivore," cook, writer, and TV personality Jess Pryles, salting your meat at the right time is crucial to preparing delicious meat on your gas and charcoal grill. She explains that:
"Salt is a very powerful seasoning. Not only does it make things infinitely more delicious, it's full of natural alchemy. Salt can draw out moisture from your meat, which is a bad thing for those who like steaks juicy. To avoid this, you either want to salt an hour or so in advance to allow the briny liquid time to reabsorb into the meat, or salt just before the meat hits the grill. Any time in between - particularly that 15-20 minutes prior zone - will not do your steaks justice."
Grilling isn't a spur-of-the-moment thing, and you should never skimp on prep time. One of the most important grilling techniques is to always prepare meats, veggies, and sauces beforehand and have them ready to go when you fire up the grill. Also, give cold meats a chance to warm up to room temperature - 20 minutes or so will suffice. Letting them sit for too long is unsafe, but you should also never throw frozen steaks directly onto the grill. If you do, you're likely to end up with meat that has a raw center and overcooked edges.
While sauces are the perfect accompaniment to many dishes, remember that they contain sugar, which burns and caramelizes when exposed to high heat. If you slather your pork chop in tons of barbecue sauce when you first throw it on the grill, you're likely to char it black and disappoint your guests. Instead, apply sauce closer to the end of the cooking cycle, as you'll still add tons of flavor to your meats without burning them to a crisp. You can also try marinating meat prior to grilling for deep flavor that will permeate the entire cut.
Most rookies assume a grill has one setting: roaring inferno. However, not all items need to be under direct heat all the time. One way to ensure this doesn't happen to you is to always preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to a lower setting, especially for more delicate items like chicken, fish, and veggies. If you're using a charcoal grill, don't cover the entire grill with charcoal briquettes. Make a hot zone directly above them, but also leave a separate area to cook items that require lower heat. Having hot and warm zones also gives you a place to move foods further away from the flames in the event of a flare-up.
Ideally, the only time you want to cut into the meat is when you're ready to eat it. The more you slice, pierce, and puncture meat during cooking (even if its to see if it's done or to turn it), the more juices escape and the drier the result. For flipping and turning, use tongs or a grill turner, and use a high-quality food thermometer to check "doneness." Finally, stay safe by following the recommended internal temperatures for all of the meats you're grilling. You should always make sure your food is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present, and keep in mind that color is not necessarily indicative of the meat's doneness.
Learning to grill the perfect meat and seafood for your hungry guests will not only drive up sales, but patrons will also be impressed by your skills. Regardless of your grilling experience, though, it's important to avoid making these five mistakes. With our grilling tips and a little practice under your belt, you're bound to become a world-class grill master.