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Preparing the Grill
Contrary to the method of preparing the grill and fire in 3 seconds, as chef, you should carefully clean the grill of past burned-on food. This can be accomplished in many ways. Some prefer to cook or sear it off. This calls for raising the grill's surface temperature to a level where the food is basically burned throughout. Then a wire brush is used to scrape off the residue. Conversely, the wire brush may be used to clean the grill of the past food without raising the surface temperature of the grill. Either way is acceptable.
Next, make sure the grill will support the type of meat being grilled. You would not want to try to cook 6 steaks on a grill which would accommodate only 4. This will ruin the final presentation of the food. Some of the meat will be cooling off while the other is just beginning to be cooked. Always make sure the grilled entree is the last thing cooked. Nothing looks better than to present your accomplishments to guests when they can see and quickly taste the final, juicy product.
When the heat source becomes 'steady' at the desired temperature, take a cooking brush and coat the grill with any type of cooking oil. This prevents the meat from sticking to the grill and being torn apart when turned over to be grilled on the other surface. There is no reason for the entree to appear less than the masterpiece that it is.
As with smoking, the flavor of the meat comes from 2 sources. The first is the marinade, rub or other seasoning. The second results from the type of wood utilized. Grilling woods are generally stronger (as in heaving smoking flavor) than those utilized for smoking. The smoke resulting from the burning wood quickly passes by the meat's surface only momentarily. This, in addition to the fact that grilled meat cooks quickly, (fish as quickly as 3 minutes on each side) you can see, requires a stronger flavored smoking wood in order to pick up the desired flavors of the wood. To learn more about the effects of the different types of wood, please see our Specialty Woods page.
To obtain excellent grilled meat, which is crispy on the outside while remaining moist and tender on the inside, the chief needs to construct a proper fire capable of dispersing the correct amount of heat for the proper amount of meat being grilled. Begin by building your fire with a base of charcoal. The charcoal may be soaked in lighter fluid to begin the burning process. Allow the charcoal to burn a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes to allow the petroleum products to burn-off before beginning to cook. If your grill will allow, you may stack larger pieces of the wood of choice on top of the charcoals and allow them to be come your base of coals, or your heat source.
If your grill is smaller, you may, along with the charcoal, utilize wood/wood chips. In either event, the heat source should be 300 degrees F to 400 degrees F. This heat is higher than that used in smoking because grilling needs to occur over less time than smoking. The primary purpose in grilling is to quickly 'sear' the outside of the meat thus insuring a more moist center (assuming the meat is not cooked excessively).
Careful attention needs to be paid to the meat when grilling. Grilling requires higher cooking temperatures than smoking, because grilling needs to cook the meat quicker to prevent it from being dried out. Remember the meat is located directly over the heat sources and as such, has the direct effect of offering large quantities of dry, hot heat to the entree. Therefore, the possibility of burning is much greater than when "smoking".
The temperature of the heat sources should be about 350 to 400 degrees F. If your are utilizing the hand/palm method, you should be able to hold you hand one inch above the grill's surface for approximately 4 to 5 seconds. When you have this steady source of heat, you may then being grilling.
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