The birds are beginning to chirp, the sun is shining brighter, and the flowers are almost blooming. Spring is here and it’s time to dust off the grill! From tips for using a meat thermometer to foil-packet meals that keep things easy-breezy, here are nine ways you can use your grill to its full potential.
1. PREP YOUR GRILL
Don’t just “burn it off.” Clean your grill from the inside out using a sponge and soapy water. A charred coating on grates doesn’t add flavor—it’s just dirt that hinders performance and the formation of grill marks. Spray water through burner tubes where insects like to hide during winter and check the grease pan to prevent fires. Eye the fuel lines for cracks. Last but not least, make sure you have plenty of propane or charcoal on hand and reward yourself for all your hard work by stocking up on sauces, rubs, and tools.
2. INVEST IN HIGH-QUALITY MEAT
When buying meat to grill, buy the best. For steak, a little marbling in the meat is best. For chicken, bone-in keeps the meat juicier. When buying hot dogs, Hebrew National® Beef Franks use only premium cuts of 100% kosher beef.
3. SIMPLY SPIRAL CUT YOUR HOT DOG
Why go through the extra step of spiral cutting your hot dog? A spiral cut hot dog ensures an even amount of char and caramelization throughout the meat. Spirals also provide a perfect pocket for condiments and make eating a hot dog at a busy backyard barbecue a lot less messy.
4. TURN TO TONGS
Grilling forks can pierce the meat, causing flavorful juices to flow out and the cut to lose its shape. Instead, use spring-loaded long-handled tongs, which are sturdy enough to take on thick steaks and burgers and give you enough control to handle thin asparagus. Avoid cross contamination by using two separate pairs, one for uncooked meat and the other for cooked meat. Distinguish them by using two different colors of duct tape!
5. USE A MEAT THERMOMETER
Why use a meat thermometer? Because it helps you get that not-too-overcooked, not-too-undercooked goldilocks perfection on the fancy cut of meat you spent your hard-earned money on. It’s especially clutch when grilling, when you can’t go on appearance alone (hello, dim lighting). In fact, one out of four hamburgers turns brown before it’s safe to eat—and because meat proteins change color when exposed to oxygen, it can look perfect one minute and turn red again a few minutes later. Spooky. A thermometer will also prevent you from slicing and dicing your meat and letting all the good juices out.
To use, simply insert into the thickest part of the meat until you reach the lowest temperature, then compare that number to safe temperature guidelines.
6. KICK UP YOUR KABOBS
When it comes to kabobs, the sauce makes the meal. You could do the whole teriyaki thing and brush P.F. Chang’s® Teriyaki Sauce over diced chicken and pineapple, or play around with your favorite meat, produce, and marinade combos until you discover your new favorite dinner.
Whatever you do, pay attention to suggested marinade times—letting the meat sit for too long can actually toughen it, especially when working with acidic blends.
7. ALWAYS GRILL YOUR VEGGIES
When you’re grilling, remember to grill your veggies along with your meat. Besides the convenience of fewer trips to the kitchen, grilling gives vegetables a smoky flavor. Simply slice and brush your veggies with olive oil, sprinkle on some herbs, and grill them until they’re tender crisp.
8. RESPECT THE SAUCE
Want to start a heated debate at your next BBQ? Ask people about their favorite condiments. Whether you prefer Hunt’s® Tomato Ketchup or Gulden’s® Spicy Mustard, you are correct and free to enjoy your burgers and brats however you want to.
You probably have opinions on marinades, too! P.F. Chang’s sauces put your favorite bold flavors within reach, while Wish-Bone® salad dressings and marinades work well with chicken and salads with grilled meat.
Get hip to the dip and serve it in creative edible bowls. Make one out of a scooped-out bell pepper, a head of cabbage, a mini pumpkin, or any suitable veggie that complements the season. Keep dairy-based dips chill and delish: Find two bowls that are a few inches apart in size; fill the larger bowl with ice, and use it to cradle the smaller bowl filled with dip.
9. DON’T FORGET ABOUT FOIL
Grilled foil packets keep all the good flavor inside and make cleanup a snap. Check out some of our favorite recipes, or see our full collection here. Be sure to spray the foil inside and out with PAM® Grilling Spray to prevent sticking!