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Grilling is a staple summertime activity! Want to impress your friends and family with your grilling skills this season? This simple guide will show you how to become a grill master, step by step.

Step 1: selecting the right food for grilling

The most important thing when grilling is, of course, the food. For most people, a nice piece of meat or a tasty sausage is essential for a successful grilling experience. However, in addition to a wide variety of meats, fish, seafood, vegetables or potatoes also taste great off the grill. Ultimately, what matters most is the quality of the products.

Grilling meat: it's all about quality

No matter how good you are at grilling, if the quality of the food is not right, even the best technique cannot make up for it. This is especially true for meat. When buying meat, pay attention to the origin of the product. If possible, choose high-welfare meat. Not only is it good for your conscience, but it also tastes a lot better!

What kind of meat you put on the grill is up to you. Fatty meat cuts such as ribeye steak, pork neck steak or pancetta are particularly suitable for beginners, as the fat ensures juiciness and flavour. The individual pieces of meat should be cut at least two centimetres thick so that they don't end up tasting like leather.

Low-fat pieces of meat such as turkey breast or a beef filet need a little more finesse so that they don't dry out during grilling. It is best to sear them briefly on both sides over high heat, then place them in the indirect zone of the grill until done.

Important: Always thoroughly cook pork and poultry to kill off any germs!

Vegetarian grilling: stealing the spotlight

Apart from the classic grillables such as sausages and steaks, vegetarian grilled dishes are gaining in popularity. Corn on the cob, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, tofu or grilled cheese are particularly tasty. Or how about grilled fruit for dessert?

You can place larger fruits and vegetables like zucchini or eggplant slices, whole potatoes or bananas in their skins directly on the grill grate. For tofu, grilled cheese and smaller fruits and vegetables, it's best to use an aluminum tray. Alternatively, you can also wrap them in foil to make foil packets. The foil keeps the veggies from burning and prevents them from falling through the grate. Furthermore, there is no danger of fat, fruit or vegetable juices dripping into the fire.

Step 2: the perfect marinade

Unless you have bought pre-marinated meat or vegetables, the second step is to marinate your food. This is important because the marinade makes your food juicier and adds flavour.

What are the basic components of a marinade?

A basic marinade consists of three components:

  • Oil, for example sunflower or rapeseed oil.
  • Acid, such as lemon juice, vinegar or wine
  • Herbs and spices, for example pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf or oregano

You can enhance the flavor of your marinade by adding other ingredients. Popular additions are mustard, garlic, honey or chili.

A strong marinade with red wine, pepper, paprika and rosemary goes especially well with beef or lamb. Sweet and sour marinades with soy sauce, honey and ginger pair well with pork or tofu. A marinade with lemon juice and dill tastes great with fish.

How to easily marinate meat and vegetables

Add the food and the marinade to a sealable freezer bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it tightly. Massage the grilled food a little until it is thoroughly coated with the marinade on all sides. Put it in the refrigerator and let it rest for at least an hour, or even better overnight.

Important: Take the marinated food out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before grilling so that it can warm up to room temperature. This will ensure a more even grilling result later on. Dab off any excess marinade and remove larger herbs that could burn during grilling.

Salting before grilling: yes or no?

Opinions differ as to whether or not meat or veggies should be salted before grilling. The main argument against salting is that salt draws water from the food, thus drying it out. You have two options to counteract this process:

  • Option 1: Salt at least 40 minutes before grilling

    When you salt your meat, what happens first is a physical process called osmosis. During this process, the salt extracts water from the meat. After about ten minutes, you will notice that water has accumulated on the surface of the meat. If you were to put it on the grill right away, the water on the surface would simply evaporate. The result: a rather dry piece of meat.

    However, if you let the meat rest a little longer, a second process soon sets in, called diffusion: the salt moves from an area of higher concentration (the surface of the meat) to an area of lower concentration (the inside of the meat). Since the salt concentration is now the same, or even higher, inside the meat than on its surface, the water is reabsorbed into the meat. The meat is therefore evenly seasoned and particularly juicy due to the reabsorbed liquid.
  • Option 2: Salting directly before grilling

    You can also salt the meat right before grilling. The salt remains on the surface of the meat and will not have time to dissolve or extract any liquid from the meat. It may also form a delicious crust.

Best try both options and decide for yourself which one you prefer!

Step 3: master your grilling techniques

Have you selected and prepared your food? Then the third and final step is to fire up the grill! In this section, we will introduce you to four common grilling techniques. We'll also tell you the most reliable way to determine when your meat is done.

4 grilling methods you should know

There are many different ways to grill. Which technique to choose depends on your grill, your food, but also on your personal preferences. Here we present four popular methods:

Direct versus indirect heat

Direct heat grilling means cooking your food directly over your source of heat, at a high temperature, for a short time. This method is particularly suitable for kebabs and smaller pieces of meat such as hamburgers or sausages. Always keep an eye on your food so that it does not burn!

With indirect heat grilling, the food is not placed directly above the heat source, but slightly next to it. This method is especially suitable for larger and thicker pieces of meat, poultry, ribs, fish or vegetables. Indirect cooking is gentler, but takes more time – up to several hours, depending on the size and thickness of your grillables. The grill temperature should always remain constant. Therefore, it is important for the indirect method that your grill has a lid that remains closed during cooking.

Two-zone grilling

Two-zone grilling is a combination of direct and indirect grilling. Thus, it also requires a grill with a lid.

For this method, you divide your grilling surface into two zones and apply different heat to each, high heat on one side and low heat on the other. First, sear the grillables over direct heat on both sides at a high temperature. Then you place the grillables in the indirect zone of your grill, close the lid and let them cook to desired doneness.

Caveman style  grilling

With the Caveman method, you cook the meat directly on the glowing coals, just like the cavemen did! For this method you need a charcoal grill, a campfire or a fire bowl. If you use charcoal as fuel, make sure that it does not contain any chemical additives that could be transferred to the meat or vegetables.

Measuring the core temperature

No matter which method you use for grilling: In any case, you should keep an eye on the core temperature of the meat, meaning the temperature inside your grilled meat, in order to determine its degree of doneness. Always measure exactly in the middle of the meat, at its thickest part.

Feeling hungry? Before you get up and start the grill, check out the delicious grilling recipes in our latest recipe special:

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