Red-hot grilling tips from Eatocracy readers
July 1st, 2010
02:00 AM ET
Share this on:

When we launched Eatocracy two weeks ago today with 'Up your grilling game' as our marquee story, we had no idea our commenters would be so fast, furious, fractious and possessed of such fabulous advice.

Grilling is equal parts art and science and as such, there's ample room for debate. Even though some of the methodologies suggested by our readers might not jibe with the way we've been taming the flame, we're willing to give 'em a shot this holiday weekend - for science. And as an excuse to eat more steak.

As commenter "GrillDaddy" wrote, "There is no 'right' way to do it - just compromises to be made."

(Though we will dispute one assertion made by several readers - the author isn't a "guy" or a "dude." She's a lady grillsmith - one who's a certified BBQ judge, drives a mean barrel smoker and makes an all-day pork shoulder that'll rock your socks off.)

On firing up the coals

Dennis
Forget "folding" the newspaper. Just crumple them up – – more oxygen gets in that way.

Drizzle some cheap vegetable oil on the crumpled paper before adding the charcoal. The oil will turn the paper into a sort of candle, and will burn longer to insure that the charcoal ignites evenly.

George
You might also try pouring a couple tablespoons worth of vegetable oil onto the coals as well. It will help them stay lit. Of course, do this before lighting them, unless you're looking for singed eyebrows.

Andy
I pour the natural wood chunk charcoal in the chimney (I do this first due to the sometimes large amounts of charcoal dust), then crumple up a few sheets of newspaper and stuff it in the bottom chamber and light it. Always works great. With natural wood charcoal I pour it in when the top two inches or so of charcoal is still black because this charcoal will help maintain a hot fire longer and does not adversely affect the taste of the food.

Jim
If you run out of newspaper, spray some PAM cooking spray on a couple paper towels. Works well in a pinch.

On the use of oil and pepper

DM
Don't use olive oil for grilling! Canola or peanut oil is preferred for high heat.

And be careful with the smoking chips as they can make meat bitter if applied too early or for too long. Likewise any hardwood – apple, oak, pecan – will work to add smoke flavor.

Fred
Wrongo, DM. Olive oil works just fine, and gives the meat better flavor. I use it all the time! Also, NEVER pepper a steak before it's grilled. The pepper becomes bitter in high heat situations.

strychnine
Just as pepper will become burnt and bitter over high searing heat, so will the olive oil. Light rub of oil is traditionally used when pan searing, for better contact and heat transfer. In grilling, it doesn't help the sear at all, and olive oil, among those most prone to burning (lowest smoke point) just isn't any good when burnt.

Steak au Poivre should never be done over fire. Searing it in a pan, on medium-high heat WITH OIL will cause the pepper to mellow, not burn, and much of the pepper's heat will be knocked down. It will not burn, and therefore won't be bitter. If your steak au poivre is bitter and burnt, it's been prepared wrong.

kyrunner
I have used all types of oils but have found through various top chefs that marinating in extra virgin olive oil will tenderize the meat (even select cuts) to a choice or even a prime cut. It helps to break down the fiber to an easy to chew and delectable meat. I have used this for the past 25 years and have been greeted with thanks, praise and questions.

Curt
I believe sunflower oil has a higher smoking point then those two, but I wouldn't use it on a steak at all because the burning point for any oil is below 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Just use a marinade, if anything,

Kate
I've never had to use oil of any kind on my grill. My grill has cast iron grates and once a good sear is on the meat, it just slides off with no problem. Plus, the cast iron grates help hold the heat more evenly.

On scrubbing the grate

Juan Lehoux M.D.
I recently came across a person in the hospital that scrubbed his grill with a wire brush and one of the barbs stayed on the grill. It then got stuck on a piece of chicken and it perforated his stomach. The gentleman had to undergo an emergent endoscopy to remove the barb from his stomach. He was lucky that he didn't need an operation. I looked it up in the medical literature, and although rare, it's not unheard of for this to happen, so be careful out there with those steel brushes on grills.

Dennis
Wire brushes are just bad for cleaning grills. Not only they can leave wires in your food, they don't do a good job either – they mostly go around the grill bars, leaving all the gunk on top. My favourite way to clean a grill is with a fine steel wool. Takes about 30 seconds to clean the whole thing to a shine.

Chris in New Mexico
A couple of years ago I came across this tip, and it works like a charm every time. Once the grate is cool, wrap it in newspapers or paper towels that have been soaked in hot water with a healthy dose of a grease cutting detergent, Put the grate in a plastic garbage bag so the papers don't dry out, and leave it overnight.

The next day, more hot soapy water and little steel wool cleans everything right up in just a few minutes. Rinse well and let air dry, and then you're good to go the next time around. It make take a little longer if you wait several days, or it's been a while since the grate got a thorough cleaning.

Andy L
To clean a grungy grill, put it as close as possible to well-lit charcoal and put a piece of aluminum foil directly on top of it for about a minute. Most of the grunge will burn away. The remaining ashes can be wiped off with a paper towel held with tongs.

On scoring a serious sear

Darrel
I've been grilling steaks a long time and the absolute best way is to sear them on each side with an infrared grill, then finish at a lower temperature to the desired level of doneness. It's nearly foolproof.

GrillDaddy
In fact, "searing" causes protein to shrink – quickly and dramatically – squeezing out MORE juice and flavor. However, the browned edges taste very good and the higher the heat the faster it cooks, therefore LESS time sitting on the grill leaking tasty juices.

Aaron M.
Take your steaks or burgers out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before you plan on cooking them. That way it'll be somewhat closer to room temperature by the time they're on the grill. This is important because when you sear red meat over high heat , you basically transfer a lot of heat in a very short time to the first few millimeters of muscle fibers on the surface. If the meat is too cold, not only will it take longer to sear, but the surface may burn before the inside is at proper temperature.

If you pat the meat dry and then salt it before cooking, the salt draws a small amount of amino-acid rich solution to the surface. In the high heat conditions of the grill, these amino acids, salts, and sugars undergo Maillard reactions giving us that tasty crust we all savor. We want to do this fast and uncovered because the longer the meat spends on the grill, the faster the inside of the meat raises temperature. Unfortunately the inside of the meat just steams and melts fat which, while tasty in its own right, never undergoes the Maillard reactions that happen on the surface.

If you cook the steak too long or cover the grill, the inside of the steak gets too hot before you can even flip it.

We add oil to the surface of the steak to even out the heat during the sear, resulting in even more delicious browning. It doesn't really matter what oil you use because it drips off during the sear and vaporizes almost immediately.

We brush oil on the grate because under high heat conditions, it semi-polymerizes on surfaces, creating a temporary nonstick surface that prevents proteins from sticking during the cooking process.

Look for a slightly thicker steak and pre-bake them in a low oven (225-250F) for about 10 minutes until their internal temperature reaches 95-100F. They'll look anemic and slimy. Then just hop outside and toss them onto a hot grill for about 30 seconds – 1 minute for each side – and remove promptly. Or use a hot cast iron skillet for even more surface contact and browning. This results in the perfect sear, the perfect internal temperature, and almost no grey ring on the inside.

On the use of smoking chips

Mark, Phoenix
Meat takes smoke best early on. Put the chips on when you first put on the meat. It's semi-fruitless after the meat has been seared and sealed by the heat. Competition BBQ cooks know this.

MC
I ignite a couple big fruitwood CHUNKS towards the end of chimney-starting. I place these at the front of the coal shelf, not touching any coals (I use long metal tongs). They just sit and smoke, and the smoke travels to the rear vents, across the food. Chips disappear in seconds, and the minute any wood begins to flame, 90% of the smoke has had it. But a smoking chunk will crank it out for 40 minutes.

GrillMasterNorthWest
When it comes to grilling I prefer to use chips that are not wet. Yes, wet chips do last longer but not by that much. Try this experiment. Take a couple of chips and soak them for 24 hours and then cut them in half. I’m willing to bet that the liquid only made it 1/16th of an inch.

A better way is to make a 'smoke bomb' from a single layer of aluminum foil. Put a handful of chips in the center and fold it over and seal. Make 2 to 3 1/4 inch holes and put it on the hot coals, but off to the side. You’ll get that bit of smoky flavor and not have to worry about ‘burning’ through your chips.

Juan Carlos de Burbon
Don't buy hickory or mesquite chips, buy the blocks instead. You don't need to soak them; throw them on the coals as they are.

Rick in Seattle
I recommend apple and cherry for pork from my backyard, dried and seasoned for each summer. Hickory for beef, mesquite for chicken or fish.

Andy
Soak some hickory chips in water or beer and put them on the hot coals once all the steaks are seared and in the grilling chamber. I'm not sure why mesquite seems to be pushed as a decent wood to use, but it's not very good for most grilling in my opinion.

On buying beef

Matt
Buy beef straight from the butcher shop. You can request the amount of fat added to the ground meat. Best tasting hamburgers also - there is no shrinkage.

GrillMasterNorthWest
Buy your steak from a butcher shop or farm, NOT a grocery store. That way there will be no water in it, and it will actually taste like meat.

Carrie Oliver
The type of beef itself is worth paying attention to first, i.e. 20-30% fat and grass-fed for burgers.

Outside of burning or overcooking the beef, what influences the flavor and texture (and whether you like the steak or not) more than anything is the origin of the beef – the specific farm, breed, growing region, diet, aging time and technique, and the talent of those who raise and age it.

I used to blame myself for a crappy tasting steak. Nowadays, I know better. The steak or burger from one farm might appeal to me more than that from others. It's a matter or personal preference. If you want to have a reasonably consistent, pleasant beef experience it's important to know who raised & aged it and how. If you find one you really like, you can stock up the freezer with more.


On the proper use of utensils

pro cook
Use tongs, not a fork. Don't pierce the meat!

Andy L
If you want to use a meat thermometer with steaks and the like, insert the probe through the edge to the center of the meat. Unless you have really thick steaks, it won't be stable if you insert it through the flat side.

On the importance of chilling while you're grilling

Johan
The best part is the ritual. Get the mesquite in some hot water, crack a beer, prep the grill, get the chimney starter going, crack another beer, enjoy a quiet moment on a nearby chair, dump the coals, let the grates warm up, sprinkle the mesquite through the grates, dump the meat on, crack another beer, enjoy the smoke, turn, remove, stall everybody while the meat rests - and enjoy.

We know you've got plenty more to say and - clearly - we're listening. Keep it coming in the comments.

And have you been following our big ol' Picnic Poll?

Round 1: Main dishes & drinks
Round 2: Hot and cold sides
Round 3: Toppings and level of doneness
Round 4: Desserts

See all our best grilling advice at Grilling 101



soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Luke

    It appears most folks use the chimney for starting charcoal. I have found the electric coil starter to work swell. Anyone else use this tool?

    May 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  2. Sid

    my top 3 intermediate tips:

    1. precision, precision, precision in temp control! get a good dual gage electronic thermometer (one probe for grill temp & one for meat)

    2. pair the right wood (/smoke) with the right meat! would you serve pino blanc w/a 4" thick filet? if so immediately put you grill on craigslist! hickory & pork is a given but apple is better w/poultry, oak with steaks, pecan or alter w/fish, etc.

    3. wrap to finish! meat (depending on type & other factors) absorbs the bulk of the smoke it's going to in 1st hour, two tops... after that you're just drying it out... at the 1-2 hr mark (can be more for certain things) wrap it in heavy duty foil & add a little sauce, marinade, beer or whatever in final 30 minutes to help rehydrate.

    May 28, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  3. Seattle Guy

    Set up your grill with hot and cool zones by heaping charcoal on one side of your grill. Chicken Breast, for example, does best if you cook it slowly on the cooler side. Use wood chunks for smoke (I use hickory, pecan, apple or cherry). Then grill veggies after the meat comes off and is resting. Green beans, zucchini, peppers...the list goes on. How about this one – cut Romaine heads lengthwise, brush with oil and grill for a couple minutes on each side. Dress with a homemade Caeser dressing.

    Get past just doing hamburgers and steaks....most thing you make indoors can be made on the grill with a different twist of smoke.

    September 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  4. mark

    b-b-q friends and a nice drink it just can't get any better than that.everybody has their own special way of doing it.i love the way everybody does it different.there is no right way or wrong way,i just love to taste everybody's way.you can't lose

    September 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  5. JuanitaBeasley

    I just started grilling this year, and I'm surprised at how simple it is. A few of the tips are good, but for anyone who wants to grill here's my tip: Keep it simple.
    1. Cheap is Great – I got a cheap-a$$ charcoal grill and put it together and it works great. Why waste money?

    2. As someone mentioned, CRUMPLE up the paper and put it under the coals, charcoal apparently will not light by itself (unless you're my grandmother, see below.)

    3. Use lighter fluid – I actually use gasoline sometimes, but I guess I shouldn't admit that on CNN...let it burn off first.

    4. Skip the Marinades – LOL I have had the best lamb and steak just rinsed off and patted with garlic, salt and pepper. No, my pepper and garlic didn't burn and turn bitter. Those were the best lambchops and steaks I have ever tasted. No Rocket Science.

    5. Cheap-a$$ grill Kit works just fine – I bought a kit with a fork, tongs and the wire scrubby things at H*me D@pot. Cheap and they work just fine. The wire thing works great cleaning my inexpensive grill.

    6. Use decent meat – I've only grilled with the fancy steaks and chops I get from Whole Foods, and they turned out great. Any other meat, I guess you might need to use tricks to get it to taste decent. Personally, unless you have to, I wouldn't bother to grill with tough cuts of meat.

    I've used wood, charcoal briquettes and natural hardwood charcoal and they all worked to cook my food. I sometimes cook in a cast iron pan on the grill to try to keep from overheating the kitchen in the summer. I have managed to get decent food without much effort.

    My grandmother used to make her own charcoal. Since I started grilling, I have NO idea how she cooked ANYTHING without lighter fluid. I think she used to burn the wood and bury it or something to make the charcoal. Then she cooked actual MEALS on COALS. After grilling with my fancy little guy, I'm still in awe I love you Mama(rip)! Crazy.

    Anyway, grilling is super easy, IMO DO NOT be scared by these comments. Follow the directions on your grill, and you'll be fine.

    August 12, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    • Seattle Guy

      A couple of suggestions for you the try.
      1. Skip the "grill kit" altogether and use good kitchen tools. A decent set of long tongs, clamshell, is great. The ones they sell as grilling tools are not good and more expensive.
      2. Forget the lighter fluid. Get yourself a charcoal chimney instead. It works great and you won't need any fluid of any kind.
      3. Learn to control the inside temperature of your grill with the lid on. Close the vents most of the way and it will burn cooler. Then you can do those tougher meats cooking them low and slow. That's the way to do pulled pork or a great brisket. It's a time and effort investment that pays off big. You'll want to learn to make your own rubs and bbq sauces and then you'll become very popular.

      September 5, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Reply
  6. house cleaning marietta

    Wow great blog!! I am glad to have stumbled upon this one. Will be on the hunt for your next post.

    July 31, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  7. Mama_B

    Salt your steaks. Heavily. About half an hour before grilling, coat the meat on both sides with Kosher or natural sea salt. Heavily. Let the meat sit at room temp. Right before grilling rinse the salt off and pat the meat bone dry. Then toss it on a HOT grill. Do NOT add any more salt. This will tenderize even a tough cut.

    July 13, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  8. Jeff Ostroff

    Forgot to mention in my previous post, sometimes I smoke the steaks with oak wood. I soak the chips in a ziplock bag for a half hour, then load them into a small stainless still smoker box with a lid with holes, and put it into the grill about 10 minutes before the steak so that it starts to smoke. Once the steaks are cooking, the smoke is already going full bore.

    July 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  9. Jeff Ostroff

    Here's the best way to cook steak that has all my guests raving that it's the best they ever had at my BBQ's where I often cook for up to 20 people. First I start with nice thick steaks, at least 1 1/2 to 2" thick. With the bad economy, USDA Prime grade, which is better than the normal USDA Choice grade you usually buy, is now available to us in some stores. That is the game changer there. Get them from a butcher counter, or I also get Prime grade NY Strip from Costco for the last 2 years now but it's almost twice the price! Well worth it. If the butcher specifies the meat is aged, it will be very high quality and tender meat also. Forget the naysayers about olive oil, I use it all the time, I taste no rancid burnt oil, it's perfect, I'm still alive, not toxic at all. I use a mister to mist small amount of olive oil onto my raw steak. Then sprinkle salt and pepper and my powdered molasses flavor char crust powder. You can wait until after it's cooked to add pepper, but tastes no different to me. For searing, I have an infrared searer on my propane grill, and I sear each side for 90 seconds. Here’s the trick to tender steaks: Remove the steak from the sear and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes on a plate. This allows all the juices to sepp back to the center of the steak. Then put the steaks back onto the grill at the normal cooking heat, about 4 minutes on each side. Don’t keep flipping them, keep it simple, once on each side and be done with it. I use tongs, never a fork. DO NOT use giant forks or big piercing meat thermometers. It will cause the blood juices to drain out of the gaping hole and your steak will dry out and maybe overcook in some cases. I use a Thermapen digital thermometer which many pros use, with a tiny point to pierce one spot of the steak when I think it’s almost ready, so I only have to pierce it once or twice. Once the steak is cooking the second side, I baste on my special sauce that created with honey, molasses, and Worchestershire sauce. It makes a delicious crust layer over my previous powder/salt/pepper layer. I wait until my Thermapen reads 135 degrees for medium rare and remove the steaks from the grill. Le the steaks sit for 5 minutes before cutting into them, so the juices seep back inside and you have nice thick juicy perfect steaks, guaranteed to please the crowds. My finicky eater girls always come back for more when I cook my steak.

    July 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  10. grilr

    cleaning tip-try putting the grates in your self cleaning oven for a few hours-works well

    July 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Reply
  11. Hyun

    For tender beef no matter the cut, use the Korean technique of grating one kiwi onto the meat prior to grilling. Using a cheese grater, grate skin and all, make sure it gets all over the meat, wait 30-40 minutes, then grill. Try this with a tough piece of meat like a 7 bone roast that you would normally stew or braise for a long time, and it of course works on ribeye and any other cut. Leaves no fruit taste at all. I've shown dozens of people this "old country" trick and they have been amazed. If you're doing more than a couple pounds, add one kiwi per 2 pounds.

    July 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Reply
    • Hyun

      Should mention it works with any marinade and will not change the flavor profile.

      July 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  12. Chim Richalds

    If you have cast iron grates for your grill you can clean them in your oven by running the self cleaning cycle.

    July 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  13. MR LUCK

    i agree 100%

    July 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  14. JT

    Grilling is all about fun! If taken too seriously it can really ruin the buzz (if you know what I mean)... We all have our ways of approaching the grill and all that is involved with it... I prefer grilling steaks on a gas grill... I usually try to cook chicken or ribs over a nice charcoal grill... With me, it's all about experimenting! I like to try new spices, and new methods all the time... Just remember to keep it fun, and relax...

    July 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  15. VIC

    Mexican's tip for cleaning the grill: Scrub off with a brush first. Place the grill over the hot coals. Cut a onion
    in half through the center like you would to make onion rings (Do not cut in half along the axis!) Place the half
    onion (or both halves for larger grills) flat side down on the hot grill. After about 5 or 10 minutes wipe the onion
    along the lines of the grill using some pressure. Be careful not to burn your fingers! The juices will help to remove
    a lot of the dried build-up that cannot be removed with coarse brushes. And the onion will season the grill, too.
    I recommend doing this minutes before the coals are ready so as not to waste any of the heat once the coals are
    completely white. You can also take the grill off and wipe it down so as not to burn the hairs on your arms and fingers!

    July 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  16. MR LUCK

    how do you make watermelon salsa?

    July 1, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  17. MR LUCK

    Misinformation?...really?....

    July 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  18. MR LUCK

    misinformation?....really

    July 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  19. Namisha

    These are a few delish dishes that taste great on the grill
    mango/papaya shrimp
    spicy veggie kabobs (for you vegan folks)
    spicy jalepeno hot dogs (available at trader joes) and the next one you don't really grill but tastes great at a barbaque anyway: watermelon salsa

    July 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  20. GrillMasterMike

    Really Roger? Did I MISinform you? how so? Please enlighten me.

    July 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  21. Roger

    So much miss information here it ridiculous. For anyone reading wanting to learn something, disregard all user comments here and go research on your own.

    July 1, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  22. Matt Reed

    I saw a chef from Ruth’s Chris on my local news one night showing how he cooks his steaks with a perfect pink center. He got his grill blazin hot, probably like 600 degrees or something, and then threw his steaks on with the lid closed for 1 minute to sear one side. Then did the same to the other side, 1 minute. Next he set the grill to medium/low and and did both sides again except 4 minutes per side. So, after 10 minutes you’ve seared both sides and cooked both sides. Then you’re just supposed to let it rest 5 minutes and that’s it. Per-fect-o Nom Nom Nom!

    This process has worked great for me because before I really sucked at steaks and got scared every time I had to cook for a bunch of peeps. I use it so much I made myself an iPhone app with those exact times preset so I just go down the list. http://itunes.com/apps/steakulator

    You can prepare it however you want, just let the meat reach room temp before throwing on the grill!

    July 1, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  23. UBO

    I've heard the smoke point problem about olive oil often, but I've never personally had that kind of problem. I really liked Aaron M's tips and I guess it is true that it does just drip off pretty quickly. Even when I pan-sear a steak, I use olive oil, never ever a problem or complaint.

    July 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Reply
  24. Mister Hisster

    Dry-aged beef will always be more tender and much more flavorful. If you do some research, you can successfully do it at home in your fridge. After the meat has aged, simply trim off the outside "bark", and you'll discover a beautiful red color. The taste is second to none, and you'll never want a "fresh" cut again. Just keep in mind that it only works for beef, don't attempt it on poultry or pork!

    July 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  25. MR LUCK

    i bought a smokerbox from lowes for my grill absolutly best investment for my grill yet...did a beer butt chicken with mesquite low heat for 3 hour basting with lemmon pepper butter evry 20 minutes

    best ever

    July 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  26. GrillMasterMike

    A great way to clean a grill is to leave it out on your grass over night. The "dew" and moisture that builds up on the grass will literally clean the grill itself, hose off , paper towel to dry. Like a charm. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce – Nuff Said! marinate the steak 30 mins, coat a lil more on while cooking, now thats a steak. Delmonico cut straight from the butchers table.

    July 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • JuanitaBeasley

      OMG THAT"S why is so easy to clean my grill! ;)

      August 12, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  27. Joe

    Saying that mesquite is not good for gilling in the desert south west may get you run out of town. Mesquite is an amazing wood to grill with, especially the mesquit lump charcoal, it burns hot and adds flavor beyond any other wood I have ever used.

    July 1, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Seattle Guy

      You have the right use for mesquite. High temperature grilling. But it's terrible for "low and slow" barbeque. Hickory, oak, pecan, apple, cherry and other hardwoods are good for long smoking. Mesquite gets a bitter, off flavor – but it's great for the quicker smoking with high temps.

      September 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  28. Pete S.

    Grilling is a highly HIGHLY personal thing....Bottom line...If YOU like how it comes out,that's ALL that matters...I myself am of the "charcoal over gas and dry wood over soaked "crowd...Does it make ME the final word on grillin'?! Nope...not by a longshot!!! Experiment with new techniques and know that,if it fails,you can always go back to the start and be absolutely happy with it!!! Different thrills for different grills I always say!

    July 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Reply
    • PapaKyle

      I agree 100% percent. I prefer to grill on charcoal while the man that taught me (dad) prefers a gas grill. Just difference of opinion on flavor and style but neither of us are in the 'right' or 'wrong' on grilling. Unless you ask Hank Hill of course. As for the chips I'm still experimenting which is what every griller should do to find their ideal flavor/taste

      July 1, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • mark

      i am the same way but you can ask 20 people and get 20 different answers.it's all good

      September 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • Seattle Guy

      I agree with you Pete. I'm a charcoal and dry wood guy too. But there's no "right answer"......although our answer is probably more right.

      September 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  29. CarnivoreEric

    Check out this website. Very informative with the smoke points for just about any oil you might use for cooking/grilling.
    htp://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/collectedinfo/oilsmokepoints.htm (just fix the htp by adding another 't', otherwise I couldn't post it.

    For those who say "don't use oil, use marinade" please look at most marinades. They nearly always contain oil. Good meat doesn't need much, just some seasoning. Don't over do it, or you won't be able to taste the meat!

    Too often people use marinades or seasonings for the flavor of the seasonings used. The problem with this is those seasonings are supposed to ENHANCE the flavor of the meat, not overpower it. If you prefer the seasoning flavor, that is certainly personal preference, but do yourself a favor and don't get meat from the butcher shop if you're doing that. If you soak a cheap ribeye from the grocery store in marinade overnight it'll be tender and juicy with robust marinade flavor and it would be difficult to taste the difference between it and an expensive cut.

    If you get a nice ribeye from the butcher shop and lightly season it and use a little butter at the end, the delicious beef flavor will be present with a hint of seasoning. If you did that with a grocery store ribeye, it would be good, but nowhere close to good, aged butcher shop meat. Grocery stores (at least in Virginia and Indiana) cannot age their meats. Technically, aged meats are mildly rotten. The naturally occuring acids in the meat break down the protien as it ages, eventually causing a delectable steak that you can cut with a fork.

    My interpretation of heaven: Aged steaks of all sorts whenever I need them, super high-end gas grill, large cast iron grated charcoal grill, and a smoker the size of a walk-in freezer stocked with all sorts of wood.

    July 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • CarnivoreEric

      Almost forgot! Another hint: grilling tonight? Many grocery stores will have their managers specials available. Usually they are good cuts of meat that are nearing their use by or freeze date. They're not butcher shop quality, but you can usually get some pretty decent cuts for VERY low prices. You have to get there early, though. Those weekday morning shoppers snatch them up quick!

      July 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  30. MR LUCK

    graywolf........In a book about the physics and chemistry of cooking, it has been scientifically shown that cooking any food, especially meat, with wood, does not in anyway alter the flavor unless you've got it smoking for more than 3-4 hours. Anything shorter is simply psychological taste that physically isn't there.

    aint buyin it

    July 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  31. mike

    you gotta beat your meat. thats the way the ladies liek it

    July 1, 2010 at 11:55 am | Reply
    • CarnivoreEric

      Yeah, that's appropriate.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Reply
    • GrillMasterMike

      hahahahahahaha

      July 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  32. Mesquite

    I will agree on the fact that Olive oil has a much lower smoke point than that of other oils, but that does not mean you should avoid it necessarily. It imparts great flavor into the finished product and can make a huge difference if you have not properly lubricated the grill grate prior to cooking.

    If you insist on using chemistry to prove the toxicity of degraded olive oil then you should most definitely not be eating grilled foods (charcoal flame).

    July 1, 2010 at 11:44 am | Reply
  33. stuckinIraq

    does freezing meat ruin the quality, and thus the flavor?

    July 1, 2010 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • CarnivoreEric

      Not necessarily. For the best quality retention when freezing meat, use a thick plastic and vacuum pack it. Those vacuum packing freezer bag tools look gimmicky, but they work well. if you get all of the air out of it you won't get freezer burn as easily. Wrap cuts of meat separately instead of multiple steaks per package. Another tip: some people who enjoy strong seasoning flavor like seasoning the raw meat prior to freezing. Be careful not to over do it, though. If you are going to freeze the meat with seasoning on it, you won't need as much seasoning. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 less than usual.

      For cheap cuts, put a little marinade in the bag prior to freezing. Your steak will turn out a lot more tender when you cook it.

      CRITICAL: Never ever ever ever use a microwave to thaw frozen meat. Take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. No microwave. Microwave BAAAAADDDDD!

      July 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Reply
      • Chris in New Mexico

        Thawing in a microwave isn't a bad idea, it's a criminal offense that borders on evil. I'd make the same remark in regard to any cut of meat–with possible exception of ground meat–to be cooked by any method, not just grilling. Seriously, how much of a problem is it to remember to move meat from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw overnight?

        July 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Reply
    • Walker

      Depends. Would I freeze a filet mignon, no. Would the taste still be ok if I did, yes. Now the texture would not be the same, think mushier. It also depends on how fast it was frozen and for how long. I just bought a tri-tip to grill and threw it in the freezer for a few days. No big deal as I plan to marinade and slice for sandwiches. A standard steak is fine to freeze for a few months too, but will it be as good as fresh – close but no.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  34. BeachBBQ

    A good way to clean the grill is after it is hot to rub a raw onion on it...

    July 1, 2010 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • PJ

      I find the best way to clean is to use a pumice stone that I picked it up at the hardware. Works great. I just rinse off with the hose and wipe dry.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  35. Mark

    It's too bad the article contains opinions from individuals instead of facts presented by experts. There is so much conflicting and information you can't believe any of it. For instance smoking can only occur at the beginning of the cooking cycle and somebody said you shouldn't do it then. There's also a lot of conflicting information about the type of oils to use. By the way, olive oil does not become toxic! It burns at a lower temperature than some other oils but it never becomes toxic because of heat.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:29 am | Reply
  36. Nick

    Choice of meat is the most important factor. Get a well raised grass feed slab of meat. If you can get it farm fresh all the better.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  37. Graywolf

    In a book about the physics and chemistry of cooking, it has been scientifically shown that cooking any food, especially meat, with wood, does not in anyway alter the flavor unless you've got it smoking for more than 3-4 hours. Anything shorter is simply psychological taste that physically isn't there.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:26 am | Reply
    • CarnivoreEric

      That is very incorrect. You can get the flavor of smoked meat by 15-20 minutes of good, heavy smoke. It's not truly smoked, obviously. But the flavor is NOT a figment of your imagination. You cannot truly smoke a very thick cut of meat in less than a few hours, that part is true. But as far as the flavor is concerned, that comment is wrong. I've wanted the smoke flavor but didn't have much time so I added the wood chips as I grilled normally and it was definately smokey flavored. If it was my imagination, how could my kids taste it when they didn't even know I did it?

      July 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • Wes in Conway

      Graywolf,

      You don't have to change the taste of the meat, only the aroma. The aroma is a big part of the flavor, and my tests have shown that even short-term exposure to wood smoke affects aroma. Ask my wife what I smell like when I've been cooking :) I use twigs and chips of all sorts of woods on my gas grill to add wonderful smokey flavor (okay, aroma if you insist) to all meats.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Abacobeachbum

      Sorry dude, not true. I've cooked many a steak over an open camp fire and it gives the meat a nice little smokey flavor. I own a big smoker, and slow smoke a ton of stuff. I can see why you're confusing this with slow smoking which penetrates the majority of a thick meat that you'd be smoking over a long period of time. As Carnivore Eric stated, 15-20 minutes will give a steak a really nice added flavor.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • TenYearTexan

      I have to disagree with you and your science. While smoke will never reach the center of a steak, if you look at a steak that has been on a smoky grill for a while, it has a thin red layer up to 1/16" thick where the smoke has permeated into the meat. BBQ houses that cook over low (200* smoky fire get a thicker layer of and are tastier).

      May 29, 2013 at 2:41 am | Reply
  38. Russell

    While you are all bickering teh Argentines have it the best, with the best steak in the world, prepared only with a little salt and lemon its by far the best steak in the world – and could be cut with a spoon

    July 1, 2010 at 11:23 am | Reply
  39. Abacobeachbum

    Ok, I have to pipe in here. DM, I'm sorry but you are very wrong about the olive oil. I too use it for most everything. This oil is very good for you and should always be used if possible. La La, I'd really like a link of some evidence. Mediterranean people have been using it for thousands of years in everything with no ill effects.

    As far as grate cleaning. You'd have to be an idiot to leave any wires on your grill grate. I always wait til my grill is fully lit and at about 4-5 hundred degrees. Any stuff left from the grilling before comes off very easily and you'd have to be blind not to see any wires that remain.

    One last thing. Never never never smash the meat down on the grill while cooking. It pushes all the juice out and makes for a tougher piece of meat that's always going to be less juicy. I know that for some people this is a compulsive act done while constantly standing over the grill, but please stop the madness.

    Great information here! Happy grilling!

    July 1, 2010 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • rufus

      Instead of mashing down a burger on the grill make an indentation in the middle of it before putting it on the grill. Then when it plumps up it won't look like a round ball sitting on your bun.

      July 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Reply
    • Abacobeachbum

      I know what you're talking about, but if one takes the extra time to make their patties extremely flat and starting out at a good 5-6 inches in diameter, then you should have no problem with the round ball factor.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Reply
  40. Russell

    Fred – While I agree with you on the use of olive oil I disagree on the use of pepper. I get complaints from my family if I don't pepper my hamburgers or steaks before I grill them. I use lots of pepper.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:11 am | Reply
  41. SmokeInDaEye

    Some great tips here. There are some more in this competition BBQ story I did with CNN last year http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/07/01/barbecue.competition.teams/index.html

    July 1, 2010 at 11:09 am | Reply
  42. Sam

    Actually Fred, olive oil does break down at high temps. In fact almost all oils do, except coconut oil. Do your homework before making such statements. It doesn't mean you can't use them, but they will contain toxic variants under high heat. Ask any chemist.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:08 am | Reply
    • Abacobeachbum

      Sam, your grilled meat is somewhat toxic if you want to get technical about things, especially if you're using charcoal. Olive oil is relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things. Don't be so uptight.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:15 am | Reply
    • COBRA

      Breakdown is not the same as toxic. All oils breakdown at a certain temp. A little olive oil helps with flavor and help keep that flame going. In the end just don't go crazy and drench your food in oil whether it be olive or motor...=)

      July 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  43. Slimjim

    Olive oil becomes toxic at high temps? This is laughable.

    I rub olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic over my steaks and then grill over charcoal. Delicious every time, with a delectable crust.

    July 1, 2010 at 11:04 am | Reply
  44. LaLa

    Olive oil should NEVER be used...It can be toxic at high temps.......marinades are far better than oil. They add more flavor for cheaper cuts of meat. If you MUST use oil, chose one with a higher flash point like Canola. (learned in culinary school). If you buy a GOOD quality meat, you won't need marinades....

    July 1, 2010 at 8:49 am | Reply
    • Fred

      This is absolutely incorrect. Olive oil is NOT toxic at high temperatures. Olive oil can be used for grilling, pan frying and baking without any concern for toxicity.

      July 1, 2010 at 10:01 am | Reply
      • MS

        I agree Fred. I have been grilling with olive oil for years and have never had an issue, other than the meat tasting too good and over-eating.

        July 1, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Reply
      • Saviour Willowgrove

        If you want a high smoke point and tasty as well, use avocado oil!!!

        July 1, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • Lee Thomas, D.C.

      Lala is correct. The safe oil for cooking at medium to high temperatures is coconut oil. It does not turn rancid or degrade while cooking. NOT canola or olive!!! Olive oil is best raw, i.e. uncooked. Canola is very cheap oil and shouldn't be cooked with or consumed. You need healthy fats, use coconut oil!!!

      September 4, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Reply
    • Randy

      Olive oil does not have a super high smoke point, but is one of the better oils to work with. The people of the Meditereanean have been using it for quite a while without ill effects. Canola oil is not a great oil for grilling and to my palate takes on a burnt taste easier. If you are looking for high smoke point, look to peanut oil.

      Now the big new here is that recent studies have show that marinades and spice rubs counteract the negative effects of grilling (release of HCAs – PACs and AGEs). This study came from Kansas State University by Professor J. Scott Smith and published widely earlier this year. Rosemary and Tumeric topped the list of herbs and spices that had the highest antioxident properties. So marinate and spice rubs are a big yes!

      Buy quality product, always!

      September 29, 2010 at 8:48 am | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Pinterest
 
| Part of
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,576 other followers