How to Prepare and Grill Meat and Fish
With BBQ season upon us, firing up the barbecue and grilling some meat and/or fish is top of mind. Although this seems like a simple task, many people are often nervous of having to use the grill. How do I prep/season my meat? How will I know if it's cooked all the way through? How do I make sure it's cooked but not dried out? If these are some of the thoughts running through your mind when deciding to use the grill, keep reading. It doesn't have to be so complicated.
Step 1: Choosing Good Quality Meats/Fish
The first step in deciding to use the grill is getting the meat and/or fish you plan to use. Buying better quality meats from the grocery store, or even better, the butcher, is the way to go. The meat has a better taste, is usually more tender and lasts longer. Using a butcher allows you to decide how you would like your meat cut/prepared. I definitely recommend this step. I have noticed the difference in the texture and taste of my meats and will not be going back.
Step 2: Washing Your Meat
Some people don't perform this step but I cannot cook my meat/fish without first washing it. I place my meat in a bowl and fill the bowl with water and white vinegar or lemon/lime juice. I allow it to fit in there for a little while while I prepare my seasonings, onion, garlic etc. I then proceed to mix and wash my meat until the water starts to run clear. I find that by doing this, you remove the unpleasant odour and sliminess of the meat. Once your meat, is washed, you are then ready to start seasoning.
Step 3: Seasoning Your Meat
There are so many ways that you can season your meat, from dry rubs to wet seasoning. The key to having great flavour is to choose a flavour combination you like and season at least an hour before cooking your meat. If you can even season your meat from the night before, that's even better. You can create your own seasoning blend or use one you can purchase from the store; just be sure to use enough to cover the amount of meat/fish you are cooking.
Once seasoned, cover and place it in the fridge to allow the meat to absorb all of the flavours from the seasoning. If you're not big on a lot of seasoning, use salt and pepper liberally and you should be just fine, especially with steak.
Step 4: Allow You Meat/Fish to Come to Room Temperature
Before you start grilling, you will want to remove your meat/fish from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. This will allow the meat to cook more evenly and not cause the outer portions to dry out before the middle is cooked.
Step 5: Prepare Your Grill
Start prepping your grill by making sure that the cooking surface has been cleaned and is ready to go. Once that is done, light your grill a little bit before cooking, so that your grill has enough time to get to a desired cooking temperature. This allows you to gauge how hot you would like your grill before placing your meat/fish on it. If you're using coals, they need time to heat and if using propane, you want to make sure you have enough in the tank to cook through the entire process. Last thing you want is to run out of propane before you're done cooking.
Step 6: Cooking Your Meat/Fish
The next step is the cooking part! For your meats, you may want to use a thermometer to test the cooking temperatures needed to ensure proper cooking.
The following temperatures can be used as a guideline for cooking:
Beef (Steaks and Roasts) - 145°F (medium) and 160°F (well done).
Chicken - 165°F
Fish and Shellfish - 145°F
If you do not have a thermometer, the way to know if your meat is cooked is the following:
The meat is hot all the way through
The juices run clear
There is no pink visible on the thickest parts of the meat.
When grilling fish, you can place the fish directly on the grill or even wrapped in foil. If you are planning to place the fish directly on the grill, you may want to use these tips to make the process easier:
Use a spatula to help flip your fish. It will be much easier
Keep the skin on; it will help prevent your fish from falling apart.
Brush a light coat of oil on the fish to prevent it from sticking to the grates.
Grilling time for a filet will be about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
Step 7: Let Your Meat Rest Before Serving
Once your meat/fish is fully cooked, remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for a few minutes. Allowing your meat to rest helps ensure the juices are locked in and will remain juicy.
Once your meat has had a chance to rest, serve it up with your favourite sides and you're good to go!
**TIP: Do not leave it open to rest for too long, it will get cold and not taste the same.