Get Grilling

Get Grilling

by Laurie Teter

Grilling season is officially in full-swing so if you haven’t started cooking outdoors yet, now is the time.

Grilling is truly the most basic cooking methods – all you need is fire and food. And a drink. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, you don’t need a grill with a built-in television or refrigerator and you don’t need fancy recipes with exotic ingredients. You just need good, fresh food and some tongs.

As for the age old question of “gas vs. charcoal,” the answer is: whichever one you have. There are pros and cons with both but either will get the job done. Gas is easy to light and control, whereas charcoal may require more work but gives food that smoky flavor you can never quite duplicate with a gas grill. If you’re in the market for a new grill, consider where you will be doing your grilling, how often you’ll be using the grill and how much you want to spend. Charcoal grills are generally less expensive than gas models, but charcoal is more expensive than propane. Ultimately the decision is a matter of personal taste.

Getting Started

  • Consider your workspace. If your grill doesn’t have enough workspace, set up a table next to the grill to hold bowls, platters and brushes. This will make your life easier and grilling less stressful.
  • Preheat your grill. Allow at least ten minutes for your grill to get hot before starting to cook. This is a good time to grab that drink.
  • Use a grill brush to clean off the cooking surface.
  • Keep food from sticking by rubbing the grill with vegetable oil or a non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place your food on the grill leaving space around each item to allow for even cooking.
  • Let the food cook! Don’t pick it up or move it around. Give it a chance to sear on the bottom, allowing it to naturally pull away from the grates. If you try to move the food before it’s seared, it will stick to the grate. Turn the food just once and let it cook on the second side, which needs less grilling time than the first.

Grill Time

  • Direct grilling works best for foods that take less than 30 minutes to cook such as boneless chicken, steaks, fish fillets, hamburgers and hot dogs. Place the food on the hot grill directly over the heat source, whether it’s charcoal or a gas burner, and close the lid.
  • Stay close by; food cooked by direct grilling can cook quickly and will require your attention for turning or flipping.
  • Indirect grilling works well for foods that take longer to cook and therefore can’t sit directly over fire. Whole turkeys, bone-in-chicken and ribs work well with this method. You need enough space so that whatever you are grilling can sit on the grill without any of the burners or charcoals directly underneath it. Ideally the item can sit in between two heat sources but if your grill isn’t big enough for this, place the food on one side and light the other.

Is it Done Yet?

  • Cutting into your food is not the best way to see if it’s done. This method simply lets the juices run out and dries out the food. A better technique is to poke the food with your finger. As food cooks, it becomes firmer so rare feels squishy, medium feels springy and well-done feels taut. This rule applies to fish and poultry as well as steaks. After some practice you’ll get comfortable with how your food should feel when cooked the way you like it. When in doubt, removing it undercooked is always better than overcooked – you can always put food back on the grill.
  • Always place cooked food on a clean plate, not the one that held the raw meat, fish or poultry.
  • Let meat and poultry rest for a few minutes before you slice into it. If you cut into it right away the juices will run out and your food will be dry. Be patient. Waiting a few minutes will allow the juices to remain inside and result in a juicier steak or chicken breast.
  • On the other hand, fish does not need to rest and should be served immediately. If you’re worried about food getting cold, place a foil tent over the food while it’s resting.
  • While the grill is still warm, but not hot, brush the grilling surface with a wired brush to remove any stuck on food.

The best way to become proficient at grilling is the same way you become proficient at anything: practice. Use your grill regularly and experiment with different methods and foods. Start with some basics and then move beyond steak and chicken. Try cooking a pizza, wrap some vegetables in foil and toss them on the grill or slice a peach and grill it. While the required accessories are minimal, the possibilities are endless.

Asian Grilled Salmon
Courtesy of Ina Garten
All Rights Reserved


  • 3 lbs. fresh salmon, boned but skin on

For the marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons good soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic

Light grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking. While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center but don’t worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Pairs well with: Riesling, a peachy, honeyed white wine.

Perfectly Grilled Steak
Courtesy of Bobby Flay
All Rights Reserved


  • 4 1 ¼ to 1 ½ -inch thick boneless rib-eye or New York strip steaks (about 12 ounces each) or filet mignons (8 to 10 ounces each) trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons canola or extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

About 20 minutes before grilling, remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let sit, covered, at room temperature.

Heat the grill to high. Brush the steaks on both sides with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place the steaks on the grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue to grill 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium or 8 to 10 minutes for medium well.

Transfer the steaks to a cutting board or platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Pairs well with: Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich, intense red wine.

Follow @LehighValleyMarketplace on Instagram