There’s nothing quite like a barbecue to greet the warm weather, complete with meats that awaken your taste buds and let you show off your grilling talent. And even though memorial day celebrations will be a little quieter than normal, I still want to make it great. So whether you’re able to celebrate with some family or you’re starting the summer off alone, grilling is a summer tradition that you can always enjoy.
I’m well aware that some guys can barely get the grill lit without singeing the hairs on their face. And that other guys overcook the meat to the point where no amount of beer can wash it down. There’s an art to grilling, and it begins with having the right equipment, knowing how to control the temperature, and the right timing.
Lucky for you, I consider myself to be somewhat of a grilling aficionado, but this Memorial Day Weekend, I’m going to step up my game and become the grill master I was destined to be – and I’ll help you do the same.
Why Men Man the Grill
Grilling is a summertime rite of passage; a challenge that guys all around the country gladly take on. And it’s been like this for a while- but how did this tradition get started?
Cooking food over an open flame has been around for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the post-war 1940s that grills started popping up in the backyards of suburban American homes. Since women dominated the indoor kitchen in those days, it was the man’s job to take on the dangerous task of starting a fire to cook meat for his family. And now, millions of guys still take on this responsibility – we dutifully head to our backyards, patios, and balconies to fire up the grills and show off our mad grilling skills.
5 Grill Tools that Every Man Needs
Having the right equipment to manage the meat on the grill is extremely important. I would argue that having a grilling toolkit is almost as essential as your regular toolkit. Here are the five basic tools that every guy needs to become the master of the flame:
1. Strong long-handled tongs: There’s no easier way to pickup and turn steaks, ribs, dogs, brats, or chicken. Yeah, you could use a fork on these, but puncturing holes in your meat before it’s fully cooked lets all the flavorful juices escape.
2. Long-handled metal spatula: When you’re making hamburgers, don’t attempt to flip them with a fork or a stick. Doing so will make you look like a nimrod, especially when you end up losing the meat between the grill grates.
3. Meat thermometer: If you’re already a grill master you can probably guess when meat is fully cooked. But why would you want to guess? Especially when you just spent $40 on two beautiful New York strip steaks and you’re trying to get them to that medium-rare point of perfection.
4. Wire brush: This is the best grill cleaning tool. When you’re finished grilling it’s imperative that you clean your grill grates after each use to keep it in the best shape possible. It takes just a couple minutes to clean up while the grill is still hot.
5. Basting brush: There are so many ways to prepare meat for the grill, but many meats (like chicken and ribs) need to cook slowly. Adding layers of sauce with a brush will help to lock in that amazing flavor.
In addition to these five basic grilling tools, there are a few other essentials you’ll need to have on hand. I recommend that you wear an apron and (most importantly) keep a cooler of cold beer nearby to help keep you cool as you stand over those 500-degree flames.
The Perfect Cook, Every Time: Grill Temp, Tips & Tricks
Sure, you can cook anything over an open flame, and it will eventually become edible. But the goal here is a few steps up from edible – you want what comes off the grill to be flavorful and on-point.
There’s an art to grilling, and one thing I’ve learned over the years is to take grilling advice from others. Chances are if someone has a grilling tip, they’re doing it better than you. Below are a few of my favorite tips.
What's the Perfect Grill Temp?
Temperature is key. Unless you’re searing meat, you never want your grill to get too hot. I always preheat my grill for 10-15 minutes with the lid closed or until it reaches around 500-600 degrees. Preheating the grill helps with cooking the meat evenly, helps to prevent the meat from sticking to the grates, and gives you those beautiful grill marks!
Best Way to Grill Hamburgers
If you’ve ever grilled a burger they tend to shrink and “dome up”. So how do you keep them from shrinking? The way to prevent this from happening is to form your hamburger into a bun sized patty and then press down in the center of it with your thumb. Nobody likes shrinkage and this will help it to maintain its shape.
How Long to Grill Steak & Other Tips
Temperature and timing are everything! Preheat your grill to at least 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it cook on the grill for 4-5 minutes and then flip it over.
Grill it for another 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium, or 8 to 10 minutes for medium-well. If you like your steak well-done you should consider eating something else, because the only thing more flavorful than a well-done steak is a piece of cardboard.
Another good trick for cooking the perfect steak – relax your left hand and squeeze the meaty area in between your pointer finger and thumb. When your steak is perfectly cooked, it should feel exactly like that part of your hand.
Grilling Ribs that Fall of the Bone
Patience and temperature are key for grilling ribs. You want to begin with a preheated grill to about 500 degrees and then turn the head down to medium. Grill the ribs directly over a medium flame and cook for about 30 minutes on each side. After that first hour move the ribs to a higher rack (indirect heating) and let cook for another 20 to 40 minutes. Don’t forget to baste your ribs with your favorite sauce throughout the process to add to the flavor and keep them from drying out.