I’ve watched a lot of people grill meat and I must say that grilling techniques vary from one cook to the next. This is how I do it.
1. I heat the grill first. Whether it’s the stove top grill or a charcoal grill, I find it essential that the grill be very, very hot before I place the meat on the rack. Why? Because if the grill is not hot enough, the meat will just steam. Grilling is about shocking the meat with the very high heat so that the juices are trapped and sealed inside.
2. I brush the grill with oil. Three’s nothing more upsetting than having meat stick to the grill rack.
3. I don’t turn the meat too often. With burgers, I let them grill for about three minutes on one side, I lift one side partially to see if the underside has charred sufficiently and, if it has, I flip the patty over and let it grill for another two to two-and-a-half minutes on the other side.
4. I don’t grill until the meat is dry. With burgers, as with steaks, the meat is supposed to be slightly pink inside. You’re grilling, for goodness’ sakes, not deep frying to make cracklings.
5. I don’t press the meat into the grill. I’ve seen a lot of people do this especially with burgers. Pressing down the patties will make the meat juices ooze out. Why would anyone want to do that?
6. I don’t understand people who keep moving the meat while on the grill. As though it makes them look more efficient and professional. Phooey! Leave the meat be and let the grill do its job. The meat won’t cook faster nor better if they’re moved around a lot. And with burgers, constantly moving them will just help the patties break apart and crumble.
7. Burgers, like steaks or any other grilled meat for that matter, needs to rest before they are served. Rest? Yes, rest. Once off the grill, give them a couple of minutes on the plate so that the molecules that had been going haywire in the heat can relax and the meat juices can have a chance to settle in the meat and not ooze out.
Much ado about grilling?
Personally, I hate meat that has dried up on the grill. Filipinos are grill crazy but most think that the amount of fat in the meat or the accompanying dipping sauce will make up for badly grilled meat that has turned dry and rubbery. And this is just as true when Filipinos grill fish and other seafood. Oh, man. Talk about shriveled squids and shrimps. And I’ve seen this even in restaurants that supposedly specialize in grilled food. Just because one can fire up a grill and use tongs to turn meat or seafood over on the rack doesn’t necessarily mean that one knows how to grill. It’s like driving. Just because you can step on the pedals and know how to make the car move forward and backward doesn’t mean you really know how to drive.
Grilling is all about nicely charred exterior and moist succulent interior. If the inside is not moist and juicy, the grilling deserves a failing mark.