Grilling Tips from a Professional Pitmaster

Restaurant professionals have a lot on our plates. But who isn’t trying to broaden their skill set in the kitchen? I often say the heart of grilling lies in the technique, and, in my estimation, what separates the master grillers from the masses is that the true experts understand how to manage their grill. Seems simple, right? You’d be surprised. To that end, if you’re looking to trade in your spatula for some barbecue tongs, I’ve got you covered: read below for a variety of grilling tips I’ve snatched up during my time as a pitmaster at Sonny’s BBQ.

Common Grilling Mistakes to Avoid

Be sure to clean your brush after you finish cooking and oil the grates before every use. It’s very important to do this while the grill is still hot, as food stuck to the grate will brush off much easier when it's still warm. A simple brush can keep your grill looking new and help the equipment last longer, as long as you take the time to care for the equipment between uses. 

Grill experts should also be very cautious when cooking food with heavy marbling over high-heat flames. Fat and juices are highly flammable and can cause flames to shoot out from your grill and potentially burn your food. When cooking items such as beef and pork, both of which can be high in fat, you should always start at a lower temperature and gradually work your way up during the cooking process to prevent those flare-ups.

Finally, always make sure to check the temperature. It can be difficult to know if your food is over or under-done when grilling on an open flame, so I would recommend keeping a meat thermometer nearby when grilling.

Stock Your Kitchen with These Must-Have Barbecue Tools

●  Digital meat thermometer – A must-have, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some even have Bluetooth capabilities.

●  Fire starter cubes – Great for firing up your barbecue quickly and are very handy when it comes to lighting wood and charcoal.

●  Barbecue chimney – Holds charcoal securely while they warm up; my favorite aspect is that they’re inexpensive and can last you a long time.

 Extra-long barbecue tongs – Your hands and arms will thank you for this one.

●  Barbeque hot gloves – Not your normal kitchen oven mitt. These are great for hand protection over heat and hot-item handling, protecting you for up to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

●  Knife sharpener – You can’t cut barbecue – or anything else – with a dull knife!

●  Pink or brown butcher paper – Chemically free from any additive (unlike some white butcher paper), and specifically made for cooking barbecue. They protect your food and speed up the cooking process without altering your final product.

As a chef, there are many techniques to master, but if you can make magic happen on the grill, you’re bound to have customers coming back for more.