Whether you like to barbecue steaks, burgers, ribs or chicken, or some of each, learning how to choose the best meats for grilling isn’t difficult, provided you don’t let all the jargon intimidate you. By knowing the terms for the different cuts of meat, the USDA meat-rating system
, proper cooking times and methods, you will take the mystery out of selecting the best meats for grilling and have your guests proclaiming you the grill master. Here are a few initial tips to help you decide on what types of meat to buy:
● Ground beef, ground chicken, chicken legs, flank steak and pork chops are all great choices if you are grilling on a budget.
● Ground sirloin, chicken breasts and loin steak are good choices if you are watching your weight.
● Select baby-back ribs, pork chops, chicken breasts and legs when feeding a big crowd.
● Fillet mignon, t-bone steak and half chickens are the cuts to select when you want to impress your guests.
Meat Grilling Tips
Steak: Steaks are best seared over medium-high heat for three to four minutes per side, until charred. Move to medium-low heat and continue grilling, flipping the meat every two minutes per side for each level of doneness. For example, two-minute per side for rare, two more minutes per side for medium-rare, two more minutes per side for medium, and so on. Let meat rest for five minutes before cutting.
Beef Burger: Grill burgers over high heat until the outside is lightly charred, about five minutes per side, and the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chops: More satisfying than chicken, but at one-third of the cost of steak. Grill for about 10 to 12 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Add barbecue sauce the last five minutes of cooking. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
Baby-Back Ribs: Ribs are the tenderest cut on a hog, so the investment will have big returns in texture and flavor. Grill over medium-high for about three minutes per side, until lightly charred.
Sausage: Better than just a plain old hot dog, you will be hard-pressed to find a bigger bang for your grilling buck than sausage. Grill sausages over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally until thoroughly cooked to a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Move closer to the heat to crisp for the last few minutes of cooking time. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving.
Chicken and Turkey
Breasts: Chicken and turkey are the lowest-cost and lowest-fat sources of animal protein. Boneless breasts will tend to cook more evenly, but bone in will have more flavor. Cook breasts for five to 10 minutes per side, depending on size, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Legs and Wings: Legs and wings are typically half the cost of breasts, naturally juicy and hard to get wrong. While legs have more fat than breasts, poultry fat is mostly monounsaturated and most of that drips off during cooking. Grill drumsticks, thighs and wings until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Burger: Ground poultry typically has less fat than ground beef, especially when it has white meat. Grill over medium heat until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
A nicely done piece of fresh fish with a crunchy crust is almost impossible to beat for a hearty and heart-healthy treat. Fish with firmer flesh make great steaks too. Some great fish choices for grilling include:
● TunaClean and oil the grill grate and coat the fish with butter to prevent sticking. Cook over medium heat for about eight minutes per side. Cook whole fish over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes per side. Be sure to swab the grill grate and fish with some type of fat or oil to prevent sticking.
Other Grilling Tips
Typically, the lower the fat content in any meat the faster you should cook it to prevent the meat from drying out. While grilling uses indirect heat, the cooking time will be increased or decreased by moving the food closer to or further away from the heat source. Opening and closing the lid of the grill also regulates temperature and cooking time.
Using a good meat thermometer, especially for meats that pose a health risk if not thoroughly cooked, is highly recommended. A good instant-read meat thermometer is not very expensive and is best for grilling meats to perfection.