It's summer, and that means warm evenings, mosquito bites, and the smell of coconut-scented sunscreen. Oh, and cookouts. Do you stand by the entrée stalwarts of hot dogs and hamburgers? Or might it be the sides that win your heart—like that lovingly charred ear of corn on the cob, slathered with butter, or a side of mom's potato salad? What cookout food gets you hot? »
'cooking out' on Serious Eats
Congratulations, after four solid days of basic grilling advice, you're pretty much an expert. It's time to graduate to the next level—the introduction of smoke. I contend that smoke produced from charcoal will lend a very slight smokiness to food (the old, charcoal tastes better than gas debate), but you need to step up your game if you want real flavor out of your grilling medium.
It's a disheartening sight, one moment you're grilling perfectly and the next the food is totally consumed in an uncontrolled blaze. Knowing what causes and how to deal with these flare-ups will ensure that precious food will never go up in flames.
To become a true "Master of the Flames," you'll need to know how to own a fire. Gauging and controlling the temperature is crucial in delivering the just right heat to your food—luckily, one of the easiest way to determine this is always at hand (literally). Just hover your hand above the cooking grate and count the seconds it takes until you're positive your skin will melt off. With the findings, you can determine if the heat is at high, medium, or low, and which foods should be cooked at each.
One of the great glories of the grill is its versatility to deliver different types of heat, with coal arrangement being a main player in this arena. A little know-how is all that's needed to create the right type of heat to successfully grill just about anything.
To love grilling is to love your grill. No matter what type of grill you own, with some tender care in the way of basic maintenance, you'll be rewarded with years of grilling bliss. Here are some tips on cleaning the grill grate (and what happens when you don't), whether or not to oil the grate, and what to do with all those charcoal remains.