Wondering how to grill? This guide will get you started.
How to Grill: A Beginner’s Guide
BY ANDREW BENDER
Ah, summer. Everything heads outdoors: swimming, hiking, boating, parks, weddings, fairs, and even our food. There’s no better time of the year for outdoor grilling.
And, when living at Sentral, it’s never been easier. Every Sentral community (
find them all here
) offers outdoor and cooking amenities — ranging from rooftop pools and grill stations, to spacious courtyards and community chef’s kitchens — with all the equipment you’ll need to make something fabulous while enjoying long summer nights with your family or new friends and neighbors.
If you’ve never grilled, don’t be intimidated. Just follow the primer below, and you’ll soon be cooking with fire.
HOW TO CLEAN, SEASON, AND TURN ON YOUR GRILL
Line up the following before you start:
TONGS: Tongs are essential, and the longer the better. Use metal, like aluminum, which doesn’t conduct heat.
METAL SPATULA: Make sure it’s wide, flat, sturdy, and long-handled.
GRILL BRUSH: A wire-bristle brush can help scrape off any residue before lighting the grill. Don’t have a grill brush? Crush some aluminum foil into a loose ball, heat the grill, then grab the ball with tongs to scrub the grates. Others swear by wiping the hot grates with a half-onion (use a large fork to hold it on the round side).
OIL: You’ll need oil for prepping the grill. Once the grill is hot and clean, apply a small amount of vegetable oil to a rolled-up cloth (an old towel is ideal), and use tongs to run the oiled cloth back and forth along the grates. Pro tip: avoid non-stick cooking sprays since, paradoxically, these can actually leave residue on grill grates.
TWO PLATTERS: One for raw ingredients and the other for cooked foods. Baking trays that have a bit of an edge also work nicely.
OTHER NICE-TO-HAVES: A basting brush if applying sauce, an instant-read meat thermometer, and oven mitts.
By definition, gas grilling is much easier — and quicker, cleaner, and better for the environment — than wood-fired or charcoal barbecues.
Lighting a gas grill is as simple as turning a knob and pressing the ignition switch. Just remember the only hard-and-fast rule of gas grill safety: The lid must be open when lighting. A closed lid traps gas and may cause a flare-up — or worse — when ignited.
Once the grill is lit, turn up the heat to the max, close the lid and let it preheat — this helps sterilize the grates, burn off leftover grit and prevent food from sticking. If your recipe calls for a different temperature or flame level, adjust it after this step.
WHAT TO GRILL
You’ll be a grilling machine in no time.
Grilling is very versatile, but there’s one key difference between gas grills and wood- or charcoal-burning ones: The gas grill doesn’t leave a strong smoky flavor. That means you’ll want to choose items that will taste great without the smoke. Burgers, chicken, fish, vegetables, and even grilled pizzas (try it!) are all ideal. (If it’s barbecued smokiness you’re after, you’ll want to head out to discover BBQ in your city, especially when living in spots like
Need inspiration? Bon Appétit’s round-up of
93 grilling recipes
is a delicious place to start.
HOW TO GRILL MEAT
How you grill meat depends on the type of meat: Chicken drumsticks? A hefty steak? Pork ribs? Humble hamburger patties? A couple of things to always keep in mind, however, are how hot your grill is and how thick the cuts of meat are. Even when following recipes, the heat or length of time to cook through may change depending on the meat’s thickness…grilling is part science, and part art!
When learning how to grill meat, it’s important to let the meat sit on the hot grill — don’t move it — until it releases easily. That way, you’ll get those grill marks you're going for. Once done, steaks, ribs, pork chops, and chicken should “rest” for five or so minutes after being taken off the grill and before serving for their juices to redistribute.
HOW TO GRILL SEAFOOD
While most meats handle a hot grill just fine, you want to choose your fish more carefully. Sturdy, fattier fish, like salmon and tuna, are solid options and simple to grill. Just brush with a little oil and put them over a medium-high flame. A general rule of thumb for timing is to grill fish 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. So, if your fish filet is one inch thick, you’ll want to grill it 4-5 minutes on each side. Another seafood grilling go-to is skewering shrimp before popping them onto the barbie — just make sure the shrimp are patted dry, so they don’t stick to the grill.
HOW TO GRILL VEGGIES
Meat might often take center stage but grilled veggies are also something special. Wondering how to grill corn (a crowd-pleaser) or how to grill asparagus (another summer favorite)? The simpler, the better — just spread a little oil or butter on each and pop them right on the grill (or put the asparagus in a grill basket if it looks like it will fall through the grate. About 15-20 minutes for corn and only 3-4 minutes for asparagus is all you need.
MARINATE ON THIS
An oil-based marinade both adds flavor and helps prevent food from sticking to the grill, especially foods with low fat content. A classic marinade might combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs such as thyme or sage, but there are infinite variations. Pour the marinade into a zip-top bag, add the items you want to grill (move them around in the bag to coat them evenly), and let them sit according to your recipe.
Despite its name, barbecue sauce is not a marinade. Don’t make this rookie mistake: Dousing your ingredients in sweet, tomato-y sauce before grilling over an open flame is a good way to torch a perfectly good piece of meat, since the sauce cooks before the meat does. Instead, experts recommend brushing the sauce on after the meat is mostly cooked.
YOU GO, GRILL!
The grills and entertaining deck at Sentral DTLA. Photo by James Baigrie.
Now it’s time to get grilling. A good recipe will include details like:
cooking temperature or flame level
open or closed lid
whether to wrap foods in foil
when to flip or add sauce
internal temperature the meat should reach, if needed (here’s where that thermometer comes in handy)
But the basic principle is easy: Cook on a low flame with the lid closed for a roasting effect, or use a high flame for a quick char.
If your recipe calls for indirect heat — that’s grillmaster-speak for placing food on the grill but away from the flame — the gas grill makes it a snap. If your grill has side-by-side burners, simply turn one off, place your ingredients over it, close the lid, and let the lit burner do the work.
See? You got this. Ready, set, grill!
DISCOVER MORE OF WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LIVE AT SENTRAL — ROOFTOP PATIOS, POOLS, GRILL STATIONS, AND ALL.
MORE TO EXPLORE:
5 Reasons Why You Want a Month-to-Month Lease
What It’s Like Living in Nashville
7 Budget Travel Tips: Stretch Your Travel Dollars