The secret of a delicious and beloved burger is undoubtedly in the properly cooked cutlet. There is even a specially designed Burger chart that will help you prepare the perfect burger. However, cooking on the grill itself is not so easy. This requires special skills, especially when it comes to charcoal grilling. The basics and secrets of cooking on a charcoal grill will be discussed in this article.
The beauty of the charcoal grill is its multifunctionality. If the grill is not covered with a lid, you can use the classic recipe for the low&slow kitchen. Food is cooked for a long time on a small fire, soaking in smoke. If you close the lid, the grill cooks high&quick food. Due to the strong ambient heat, the products quickly acquire a ruddy crust on the outside, while remaining juicy inside. The classic charcoal grill is the medium brown steak that cannot be cooked on an electric grill or barbecue.
1. Take care of the grill
No matter how expensive the charcoal grill is, it still needs care and cleaning. In most modern grills, the inner surface of the roaster and the lid are covered with heat-resistant porcelain enamel or ceramics. It is not difficult to take care of such a coating if you do it regularly. All you have to do is wipe the cold grill with a damp cloth after each cooking. Detergents are completely optional.
Always clean the grilles
Both the charcoal and the food grilles require more attention, as they accumulate fat, to which everything sticks. It is the fat that is to blame for the appearance of extraneous unpleasant tastes and odors. You can and should use a spatula and a metal brush for cleaning – the coating of the grilles is resistant to any abrasive influences. Once a season, the grates can be completely cleaned using special strong alkaline or enzymatic agents, which remove any burnt or dried organisms. Such agents do not leave any foreign smells.
2. Get used to the grill
The charcoal grill serves to cook healthy food ecologically, even when it comes to smoked food. In contrast to electric and gas grills, charcoal grills give a stronger heat combined with the natural haze of burning wood. Cooking on it is faster. The food gets an amazing aroma and taste, unattainable when cooking in any other way.
3. Cook the meat in thick pieces
Don’t be afraid to cut the grilled meat into thick pieces. The optimal thickness of the steak is 1.5 – 2.0 inches. With sufficient thickness, the meat will have time to cover with a ruddy crispy crust, preserving the juicy baked flesh inside. Thinner steaks can dry out – it is better to cook them either over a thin layer of coals or without a lid, using the grill as a barbecue.
4. Determine readiness with a thermometer
The main rule of a good meat kitchen is to observe temperature conditions. Neither the appearance of the food nor the indication of the thermometer on the lid of the grill will tell you nothing about roasting meat. Therefore, always keep a thermometer at hand with a probe that can pierce the piece to the middle. If there is no thermometer, it is better to give up steaks in favor of sausages, wings, and other easier-to-prepare foods.
Frying temperature scale (measured with a thermometer in the middle of the piece):
- 45-49 deg. – raw;
- 49-55 deg. – rare, with blood;
- 55-60 deg. – medium rare with blood;
- 60-65 deg. – medium with juice;
- 65-71 deg. – medium well, almost full roast with juice;
- 71-77 deg. – well done, full roasting to dry meat.
5. Do not abuse the spices
The flavors that the charcoal grill saturates the products are good in themselves. So try to give up any spices except for the salt when cooking. It’s better to pepper food before serving it. If the products are of high quality, and the grill does not have any foreign odors from the ignition liquid and last year’s fat, then the finished dishes will be great without unnecessary flavors and flavor enhancers. Salt the grilled meat at least 40 minutes before the start of frying.
6. Buy some pincers
The peculiarity of grilling is that you cannot do anything with your hands – only special devices in the form of tongs, blades, or meat forks. If you cook vegetables or other side dishes in trays, you will also need heat-resistant gloves. The tweezers next to the grill are never superfluous: they turn the meat over, move and add coals, transfer products from the direct to moderate heat, and perform many other manipulations. Other accessories can be neglected, but not pliers.
7. Start with a simple thermal mode
If you don’t have any experience with the charcoal grill, do the simple thing: rake all the coals in one direction and cook in the indirect heat zone – where there are no coals under the grill. Open the lid from time to time and focus on the appearance of the food (if it is meat-check it only with a thermometer). As soon as the food is ready, move it briefly to the direct heat zone to form a beautiful blush crust and serve it to the table. Rave reviews are guaranteed because the food will be baked and impregnated with the aromas of burning natural wood. This method of cooking takes a little longer, but the result is guaranteed.
8. Always let the meat rest
If you cut the steak immediately after grilling, the juice will flow from the center of the piece to the plate, and the meat will lose half of its flavor. This is due to the peculiarities of the meat fibers: when processed by heat, they are compressed, burning all the juice in the middle. If you give the meat 10 minutes after the grill to stand on a dish under a foil or lid, the fibers will take their original shape and distribute the juice evenly over the whole piece. It will taste much better this way.