Brush Up Your Grilling Skills


Autumn may mark the beginning of the traditional school year for reading, writing, and arithmetic, but springtime is the time for both fledgling and serious students to sign up for "Basic Grilling 101."

This may be the first year that you have ever stoked up a barbecue fire. Or you may consider your grill to be an old friend. Either way, the beginning of grilling season is the time to brush up your grill skills. Even experts like Melanie Barnard, who has written two authoritative books on the subject and grills year-round, take time to review the basics of grilling every spring.

According to Melanie, grilling can be the most relaxing and delicious way to cook and enjoy any meal, but she maintains that there are a few important concepts and techniques that make grilling so effortless and fun. Here is a short synopsis of Melanie's "Basic Grilling 101." (You don't even need a #2 pencil-just read on.)

Safety First-Grilling is cooking over an open fire. Whether you use a charcoal or gas grill, treat it with as much respect as your indoor stove. Don't leave the fire unattended, and remember that coals continue to burn for several hours after you are finished cooking. Keep the grill away from buildings, and out of the way of children and pets.

Know Your Equipment-Read and follow the instructions that come with your charcoal and gas grill. Each manufacturer designs the vents, covers, and interior of the grill in a different way. Each will recommend specific types of charcoal, and even perhaps fire-starter methods.

Build a Better Fire-Whether you start your charcoal fire with an electric starter (Melanie's favorite grill gadget), a metal "chimney," or chemical starters, be sure to allow at least 30 minutes for the coals to become covered in a glowing gray ash that tells you they are ready for grilling. (In the case of chemical starter, the time is also needed for the chemicals to burn off-never add more chemicals once the fire has started.) If you use a gas grill, allow about 15 minutes for the unit to properly preheat.

Stop that Sticking-Before placing the rack over the coals, lightly coat it with vegetable oil, or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray. Set the rack over the coals, then wait at least 5 minutes for the rack to heat up.

Resist the Urge to Turn-Then, when the food is placed on the grill rack, resist the temptation to turn it during the first few minutes of cooking. It is during this time that the coating forms to protect the food and retain the naturals juices, and much of the characteristic grilling flavor is added.

Marinate, Marinate, Marinate-This is the grilling credo, according to Barnard. Whether it's a beef steak or a beef steak tomato, a little marinating with bottled Italian dressing makes a good thing even better. The timing rule of thumb is to marinate sturdy items like meat and bone-in poultry for at least an hour, delicate foods like seafood and boneless poultry for 30 minutes to an hour, and veggies for less than 30 minutes.

If you've been waiting all winter for that mouth-watering waft of smoke to signal the beginning of grilling season in your backyard, here is a new twist on the traditional all-American barbecued chicken that is guaranteed to get you off to a great start!


Lip Smackin' Barbecued Chicken

Barbecued Chicken

4 Servings

  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup bottled chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses or dark corn syrup

If desired, pull off and discard the skin from the chicken pieces. Place the chicken in a shallow dish and brush with 1/4 cup of the Italian dressing. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup Italian dressing, the chili sauce, and molasses and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Grill chicken over medium coals (or broil 5 to 6 inches from heat), turning 2 or 3 times, for 15 minutes. Brush with some of the sauce and continue to grill, turning and brushing 2 or 3 times, until chicken is tender, juices run clear, and meat is no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes more.


Provided by Thomas J. Lipton Company
Taste Tested by The Lipton Kitchens

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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