Grilling is a centuries-old cooking technique that involves placing meat, as well as other food, directly over a fire. Because it uses direct heat, it cooks meat more quickly than other methods. Unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation out there on the topic of grilling. In this post, we're going to explore 10 common grilling myths and misconceptions that you shouldn't believe.
#1) You Should Only Flip Meat Once
You've probably heard this grilling myth before: Meat should only be flipped once. Some pitmasters believe that flipping meat more than once will dry it out. Whether you're grilling chicken breasts, steaks, fish or any other meat, though, you'll need to flip it multiple times to ensure it cooks evenly and doesn't burn. If you only flip your meat once, it may burn on one or both sides, which is certain to dry it out.
#2) Gas Grills Are Better Than Charcoal Grills
Both gas grills and charcoal grills have their own unique advantages. But in terms of flavor, charcoal grills outperform their gas counterparts. Gas grills use liquid propane as fuel, and while there's nothing necessarily wrong with liquid propane, it doesn't offer the same delicious flavor as a charcoal grill. The only real benefit of using a gas grill is convenience. It's typically easier and faster to light a gas grill than a charcoal grill.
#3) Marinade Will Soak Into Meat
Another grilling myth is that marinade will soak into meat. In reality, meat absorbs very little marinade -- even when submerged in the flavorful liquid for 24 hours. You can still marinate your meat before grilling, but don't assume that it will soak into your meat. Most of the marinade will simply stick to the exterior of your meat where it subtly enhances your meat's flavor. There's simply no way for the marinade penetrate through the skin and into the meat.
#4) You Must Use Charcoal in a Charcoal Grill
Although they are called "charcoal grills," you don't have to limit yourself to only using charcoal in them. You can use high-quality firewood for cooking as an alternative fuel source. Cooking wood consists of hardwood varieties like oak, hickory, pecan and cherry, all of which burn hot while producing minimal emissions in the process. Just create a small stack of cooking wood in the main fuel compartment of your charcoal grill, after which you can light it using some tinder and kindling.
#5) Pink Juice In Grilled Meat is Blood
If you cut into your grilled meat and discover pink juice, don't panic. Contrary to popular belief, pink juice isn't blood. It's actually a specific type of animal protein known as myoglobin that's suspended in water. Blood is much darker, almost a reddish black color, than the pink juice in meat. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that your grilled meat isn't undercooked just because it has pink juice in the center. As previously mentioned, this otherwise mysterious juice is a combination of water and myoglobin.
#6) Grilling Is Time Consuming
Grilling can certainly be time consuming if you don't use the right approach, but it's generally a much faster way to cook meat than baking, sauteing or using other methods. Chicken breasts, for example, typically require just 10 minutes on a hot grill, whereas filet mignons require even less time on the grill. The most time-consuming aspect of grilling is preparing and lighting the charcoal or cooking wood. Once the fire is going, however, you can grill most meats and foods in less than a half-hour.
#7) It's Okay For a Grill Grate to Rust
It's not uncommon for grill grates to develop rust. It doesn't happen overnight. Rather, after months or years of use, a grill grate may eventually develop a layer of rust. With that said, you should take precautions to prevent your grill grate from rusting. If ignored, the rust will spread while literally eating through the grate until there's nothing left. How do you prevent your grill grate from rusting exactly? One way is to choose a stainless steel grill grate instead of a cast iron grate.
You can also protect your grill grate from rusting by cleaning it after each use. When you are finished grilling, use a wire brush with a little soap and water to clean the grate. As long as you keep the grate clean, as well as dry, it shouldn't develop rust. And if your grill grate already suffers from a substantial amount of rust, you can replace it with a new grate of the same size and shape.
#8) You Can't Grill in the Rain
Who says you can't grill in the rain? At the first sign of a light shower, some pitmasters call it quits by abandoning their grilling activities. While you shouldn't attempt to grill in severe storms, you can, in fact, grill during light showers. As explained in a previous blog post, there are several ways to keep your grill hot even when it's raining. Placing your grill under a roof or canopy, for example, will keep it dry and protected from the rain. You should also keep the lid closed, with the dampers open, to minimize the amount of moisture that able to enter your grill. By taking a few basic precautions, you can grill in the rain.
#9) Stop Flareups With a Spray Bottle
Flareups are an all-too-common phenomenon encountered by pitmasters when grilling. Consisting of a short burst of fire, they are typically caused by fat or oil dripping onto the fire. As fat or oils drips down from your meat, it may land on the burning charcoal or cooking wood, resulting in a flareup. When a flareup occurs, your first instinct may be to mist it with water. After all, water usually extinguishes fires, so it only makes sense that it will do the same for a flareup.
The problem with misting flareups with water is that water doesn't extinguish grease fires, such as those caused by fat or oil. It will only stir up the ash, some of which may land on your food. If a flareup occurs, try closing the dampers to starve the fire of oxygen. Once the flareup has died down, you can reopen the dampers to keep your fire going. Just remember to avoid misting it with water.
#10) You Can Tell If Meat Is Done By Poking It
Some pitmasters poke their meat after grilling it to determine whether it's done cooking. A firm texture may lead you to believe that your meat is finished cooking, whereas a soft texture may lead you to believe that it needs a few more minutes on the grill. But the reality is you can't tell if meat is done cooking simply by poking it. Different types of meat require a different internal temperature for safe consumption. Chicken, for example, needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas pork needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. While poking can give you a better idea of whether your meat is still raw, it doesn't reveal the meat's internal temperature. To ensure your grilled meat is safe to eat, use a meat thermometer to read its internal temperature.
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