It’s summertime and that means grills are lighting up all across America. While burgers and hot dogs are some of America’s most iconic foods, they’re not always easy to get right.
Too dry, burned on the edges, undercooked, falling apart—all disasters that can befall the amateur chef.
To help you impress your friends and barbecue guests, we’ve got four pro tips that will change the way you grill!
Tip 1: Ice cubes
What on earth could ice cubes have to do with burgers, you might be thinking? Actually, a lot. Have you ever grilled up a round of burgers only to find that they’re dry and the center is overcooked? Even if you mess with the temperature, it still might not be enough to keep your patties moist all the way through.
As celebrity chef and judge for the hit TV show MasterChef, Graham Elliott has a piece of advice for home cooks. “If you’re going for a thicker patty,” (and who wouldn’t?) Elliott told Fox News, “a little ice cube in the middle keeps it from overcooking too much.”
Rather than putting ice cubes in the meat mixture, Elliot said “Make your patties, then put your little ice cube in there.” By doing this, “when you grill it, [the ice] keeps it moist and keeps it from getting dried out.”
When it comes to making your burgers as thick and juicy as possible, the answer is as close as your freezer!
Tip 2: Aluminum foil
You probably already know how many different uses aluminum foil has in the kitchen, but you might think of it as a grill tool.
When you grill meats that have high fat content and lots of oils, that can create greasy residue that clings to your grill. If you don’t clean it off your grill properly, this gunk can burn and get really stuck on.
Foil is here to help! First, wipe off the grill with an old piece of cloth, making sure that it’s dry. Next, take two sheets of aluminum foil and cover the top of the grates. Now, turn the heat all the way up and let it go for 15–20 minutes.
When the timer’s gone off, remove the foil and the grime underneath will have dried out and burned up, so it can be easily removed with your rag. Better yet, take some foil and crumple into a ball. You can use it scrub the grates while they’re still hot, getting them even cleaner.
Tip 3: Keep it simple
Many of us see interesting-looking recipes that involve adding bacon, chilies, even such bizarre things as Dr. Pepper. But remember that while you can always provide extra ingredients for your guests to add to their burgers, you can’t take out any strange things once the mixture is cooked.
As Graham Elliot shared with Fox News, he thinks that overdoing the meat mixture by adding unnecessary ingredients is a big problem. “People always end up doing the same mixture for a burger as they do with meatloaf or a meatball, they put all the pepper and onion in it.”
From his professional perspective, “you want it to be just straight meat.” Sometimes less is more!
Tip 4: Skewer it
Having problems with things cooking too slowly because of their size, or troubles remembering when you flipped which thing? Why not put it on skewers?
Humans have known for thousands of years that putting food on a stick helps you make sure that all sides get evenly cooked (not to mention that this keeps your meat from falling into the fire).
Chop your favorite meats, vegetables, or even fruits into cubes and skewer them. It’s so simple to flip them over and make sure they get just the right level of heat.
You can even take two skewers and put them side-by-side through hot dogs. Now you won’t have to chase any stray franks rolling around on the grill, and what’s more, you’ll get perfect grill marks.
So take these tips and take your grill game to the next level this summer!