Barbecue season is upon us and if you’d like to become a king or queen of the grill, just use these 12 genius BBQ hacks guaranteed to light up your life.
Keep Burgers Moist with Ice Cubes
Here’s a great tip to ensure your barbecued burgers don’t become as dry as hockey pucks: simply roll some ground beef into a ball and stick an ice cube in the centre. As the ice cube melts over the heat of the grill it will keep the burger moist and juicy. For some added oomph, make some special ice cubes using beef broth and spices that will add zesty flavour at the same time.
Mix Mayo with Hamburger Meat
Another way to ensure burgers remain juicy is to mix a healthy dollop of mayonnaise with the meat. Not only will you be adding delicious mayo flavour, this creamy condiment will also make meat moist.
Clean the Grill With an Onion
You probably use a wire brush to clean your grill, but here’s an even more effective tool: an onion. Make sure the grill is nice and hot (it works better that way), chop an onion in half and skewer the uncut portion with a fork. Then, use the onion to clean the grill as you would a brush, and prepare to be amazed at how well it takes off all that baked on grit, grease and grime.
Use Egg Cartons to Light Charcoal
Despite the protestations of fictional cartoon propane salesman Hank Hill, there’s nothing like meat cooked over glowing-hot charcoal. But the hassle of lighting charcoal — and all that lighter fluid — puts many people off. If that’s the case, load up a cardboard egg carton with charcoal, place in the grill and light it up. As the cardboard burns, eventually the coals will too — no lighter fluid required. Note: make sure you use a cardboard egg carton and not one of those polystyrene ones — you don’t want a pile of toxic chemical goo all over your gorgeous grill.
Use Corn Chips to Light Coals
No lighter fluid or egg cartons in sight? Grab a bag corn chips, toss a few among the coals and light the chips — they’ll light up and burn slowly, igniting the charcoal as they do.
Add Fresh Herbs to Charcoal
When cooking over charcoal, toss some fresh herbs onto your glowing-hot coals. Not only will whatever you’re grilling become infused with fresh flavour, but the aroma coming off the food as it cooks will be even more tantalizing than it already was.
DIY Food Warmer
Keep whatever comes off the grill warm until it’s ready to serve with this helpful tip: tape together two foil drip pans (you know, the kind that slide under your barbecue) and you now have a snug warming container.
Grill Meat on a Bed of Sliced Lemons
Fish cooked on the grill is sublime, but it can quickly become a hot mess when you try to flip it over and the whole thing falls apart. To prevent that from happening, place a few lemon slices on the grill first and then position the fish on top. When you flip it over, your spatula will be touching the lemons, not the fish, which can then be placed atop more lemon slices. Not only will this keep the fish intact and looking magnificent, it will also provide a hint of zesty lemon flavour.
Spritz with Apple Juice
Fill a spray bottle with apple juice and give your meat the occasional spritz as it cooks. This will help keep it moist and tender, and will add a hint of sweetness. In fact, this works particularly well when grilling pork.
Keep Track of Orders with Ketchup
Wait, was it two rare burgers and one medium or the other way around? If you’re grilling for a crowd, a great way to keep track of orders is to use a squeeze bottle of ketchup and write whether it’s rare, medium or well done on the inside of the bun, ensuring everyone winds up with exactly what they want.
Test Propane Level with Water
Anyone who’s ever fired up a propane grill only to realize you’re out of propane will appreciate this trick, which will let you know whether you have enough before you start cooking. Simply pour a cup of boiling water on the side of your propane tank, then feel the tank and you’ll notice that the top will feel hot while the bottom will feel cool. The point where hot turns into cool? That’s your propane level, and if you only feel a small cool spot at the bottom, then it’s time to go refill the tank.
Remember '10' and '2' for Perfect Grill Marks
To ensure your meat comes out with perfectly symmetrical criss-cross grill marks, remember the numbers 10 and 2 — as in, the face of a clock. Place your meat so that one end points to 10 o’clock, let it sear for two minutes and then rotate so the same end is now pointed toward 2 o’clock. Flip it over and do the same thing — guaranteed grilling perfection!
Brent Furdyk is a freelance writer in Vancouver.