6 Myths about Grilling That Need To Go Away
Grilling is an ancient technique for preparing delicious meals and fun cooking. There are many tips out there for grilling, some of which are true and very useful, but you will also come across some myths. This article will dispel some six popular myths, so you avoid wrong steps when grilling.
1. You can determine the meat’s doneness by poking with your finger
In reality, you cannot tell if the meat is done by merely poking it with your fingers. Everyone’s hands are physically different from another person’s, and you will feel things differently from others. The practice is not standard; each cut of meat will feel different when both raw and cooked. You should check out 100+ interesting facts about meat to understand different cuts well.
Mastering the art of grilling begins with understanding grilling temperature. Various types of meats require different internal temperatures to cook and for safe consumption. The internal temperature for grilled chicken should exceed 165 Fahrenheit, and for pork, it is at least 145 Fahrenheit. Poking can, to some extent, tell if your meat is raw, but will never teal the internal temperature. To ensure the doneness of your grilled meat, use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature.
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2. Sear first to retain the juices
Searing meat entails heating the grill to a high temperature and cooking the meat a few minutes on each side until it forms a fine crust. The myth explains that the crusts form barriers that keep the juices in the meat. However, the crust is not waterproof. Meat is roughly 70% water trapped in cells of the muscle fibers. Some water will continuously ooze out of the meat as juices during grilling while some will evaporate, and nothing can stop this. The sizzling noises on the grill are due to vaporizing juices. The meat gets drier the more you cook it. Searing does not affect the moisture content of the meat. Searing will only brown the meat surface through caramelization and Maillard reaction. These processes change the sugars and amino acids in the meat to build a rich sweet flavor. Searing requires high heat, which causes water to evaporate from the meat. After searing, the juices will still pool to the surface. So if you are searing, do it for the flavor not to save the juices.
3. Marinade penetrate deep and tenderize meat
Many believe that marinade flavors enter the entire cut while acidic marinades (lemon juice, vinegar, and wine) break the connective tissues and tenderize the meat. However, marinades are merely surface treatments and only penetrate the outer layers of meat, particularly on thicker cuts. Meat is about 70% water, which means there is no room in the meat for more liquids; therefore, Marinades do not reach the center of the meat. Instead of marinades, you can use rubs. Marinating wets the meat surface, which causes the meat not to brown well and consequently fail to develop a rich flavor. However, marinades do have some benefits. While marinades will not tenderize your meat, they will minimize the extent to which the meat will dry during grilling and consequently make it tender. Marinades also improve the flavor of the meat. Seasoning sticks better with marinades than rubs.
4. Spray water to counter flareups
Flareups are typical of any grilling process, even the most experienced and skilled cooks encounter flareups. Flareups occur as a short burst of flame caused by oil and fat from the meat dripping onto the fire. When oils and fat drop from the meat and land on the cooking wood or burning charcoal, it causes a flare-up. The first hint that crosses your mind is to spray down the flareup with a mist of water. The instinct comes fast and naturally because we all know water is suitable for putting off fires. However, the notion is somehow misguided because water does not quell all types of fires. It is not ideal for flames caused by greases, as are those caused by oils and fats. Spraying with water will only disturb the ash and deposit it on your meat. You do not want ash on your food. If flareups happen, the best approach is to close the dampers. Closing the dampers will starve the flames of oxygen, and the flareups will die off. Once the flareups are down, you can open the dampers to maintain your fire. Always avoid spraying flare-ups with water.
5. Cook chicken until juices run clear
While undercooked chicken is dangerous for your health, if you believe the myth that the chicken juices should run clear, you will end up overcooking your poultry. If you cut your grilled meat and see pink sauce do not panic. The pink color of meat and juice from grilled turkey and chicken is water stained with myoglobin, the protein responsible for the pink color. The pink liquid is not blood and does not necessarily mean your poultry is undercooked. Use the internal temperature of the meat to check the readiness of your poultry. Poultry is ready and safe to consume when cooked to an internal temperature of at least 65 degrees. Despite being fully cooked, the chicken juices can remain pink due to several factors, mainly the pH of the meat. It is relevant to note that the sauces can, at times, clear before the chicken is safely cooked.
6. Lifting the lid increases the cooking time
You probably come across the grilling tip, “Lookin’ain’tcookin’”. According to this myth, lifting the lid severally lets out the heat, a phenomenon that extends the duration for grilling. However, it is not the hot air that cooks the meat. The warm air in the grill will only cook the surface parts of the meat. The heat that builds up inside the meat is responsible for cooking the internal parts of the meat. Meat contains a lot of water which retains heat better than air. Opening the lid cools the air inside the grill but hardly affects the temperature of the meat. You will need a minute now and then to grease and turn the meat as well as insert a thermometer. These short checks have no harm but are beneficial for better results.