Grilling and barbecuing are two cooking techniques that you have to master if you go to culinary school. Whether the equipment on hand is a charcoal, gas, electric, or portable grill, you need to know how to use these correctly to be able to serve food that melts in the mouth and surely can please the crowd.
Joining one of the best cooking classes for beginners can help you learn the basics of grilling and barbecuing. You will know the right steps and techniques that will allow you to make the best use of fire to come up with perfectly cooked meats and fares that will satisfy anyone.
Through a cooking class, you will also know the proper process of grilling and barbecuing to stay safe and avoid causing accidents in your workplace and even at home.
The Journey to Being a Pitmaster
Whether you want to start a career as a grill master or simply want to have perfect barbecues at home and as a side business, follow these simple tips and tricks, which you can learn from an excellent cooking class:
1. Choose the right cut of meat.
Selecting the best cut of meat for grilling and barbecuing can make a huge difference in the dish you serve. As such, the first trick you have to master is choosing the ideal BBQ protein.
To find the perfect cut of protein, choose ones that are brightly colored. Next, touch each meat; it should yield to your touch and not spring back.
Additionally, check the layer of fat on the meat. This signifies the amount of marbling. If the protein has sufficient marbling, it will result in a flavorful and tender barbecue.
Lastly, choose cuts that have an even thickness. When the meat is thicker in one section than the other, you will have difficulties cooking it evenly. In such situations, you will have parts that are either undercooked or overcooked.
2. Prepare your meat well.
Whether you are grilling or barbecuing small or large amounts of meat, you need to know how to prep it so that you serve only the most mouthwatering main dishes.
Start by trimming away excess fat since they can cause flare-ups on the grills and give the meat burned flavor.
If you are using a marinade, marinate the meat 12 to 24 hours before grilling it. Add sweet ingredients to the marinade so that it can form an appealing caramelized, crispy coating on the cooked protein. And before putting it on the grill, wipe off the excess liquid.
In case you are using a dry rub, rub it on the meat and let it sit for a few hours before grilling it.
3. Be organized and observe safe cooking practices.
Aside from making sure you serve flavorful barbecues, prioritize food safety, too.
This means prepping and cooking on a clean countertop or any surface. Ensure the chopping board, knife, and other utensils and you will use are sanitized before using them.
Additionally, clean the grill before you start cooking. Clean the grates with a wire brush and remove any leftover food residue and char. Next, wipe the grilling surface with paper towels or a cloth slightly wet with vegetable oil to scoop up any broken-off brush bristles.
Being organized can help you stay safe and be more efficient while cooking, too. As such, organize and prep, which includes washing, cutting, seasoning, and oiling, all ingredients in advance. Make sure you separate and place them in containers, or on the sheet pan ready for grilling.
Also, don’t forget to bring the meat to room temperature prior to cooking so they can cook more evenly.
4. Use the equipment properly.
To come up with perfectly grilled food, you have to know how to use the grill correctly whether using a charcoal or gas grill.
Start by knowing what kind of equipment you will use. The most common types are gas, charcoal, electric, and portable grills.
Pitmasters say that the charcoal grill is the best equipment to use. This is because the smoke coming from the burning wood adds flavor to the protein.
If you want to elevate the taste of your meat, use or add wood chips from fruit trees. They add a fruity scent that makes the grilled or barbecued protein more flavorful.
And to come up with excellent grilled or barbecued meat, always preheat your grill. Use a brush or spray to coat the grates with cooking oil, then light the chips and close the hood. Allow it to heat for about 20 minutes on low.
Once you start grilling, close the lid so that the meat will absorb the smoke.
If the grill has a smoker, use it to prepare different types of protein. This type of equipment is designed to have several sections that you can use for slow or fast grilling and roasting.
However, when using a grill with a smoker for slow cooking, ensure there is sufficient water and humidity in the smoker.
5. Keep all essential grilling tools handy.
A meat thermometer can be your best friend once you pursue your love for grilling and barbecuing.
With an instant-read thermometer, you can check the internal temperature of your meat. As a result, you will avoid serving over- or undercooked food.
You need a good pair of heavy-duty, long-handled tongs as well to put food on the grill and move it around while it is cooking.
You will need other utensils, too, such as a brush, skewers, barbecue forks, and claws. To avoid cross-contamination, use different sets of utensils for each kind of protein. And always wash them thoroughly after use.
6. Avoid checking the meat frequently.
Whether you are grilling or barbecuing, resist the temptation to keep opening the lid or smoker and poking the meat.
If you are barbecuing meat, avoid opening the lid for the first couple of hours, unless you think the fire is cooking it too fast. Also, check the temperature every thirty minutes only so you prevent the equipment and the heat from cooling down.
Also, avoid pricking, poking, or squashing the meat frequently. If you do, you will squish out the moisture from the protein, which will affect the flavor, look, and texture of the meat.
Lastly, do not move the meat around the grill as it cooks since it won’t get the grill marks that make it more appealing and mouthwatering. You will prevent the protein from cooking evenly, as well.
As a final tip which is something that all professional and newbie grill masters should follow, is to rest meat after cooking and before serving it. By doing so, you allow the cooked protein to settle, which ensures that all the moisture remains inside and stays tender.
By mastering all these tricks and techniques first, you can always churn out amazing barbecues and grilled dishes — ones that you can proudly serve at home or even at a dining establishment.
Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.