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Grilling 101: Chicken, Beef and More

Even in Minnesota with its cold, snowy winters, grilling is a year-round activity. Many people make a point of shoveling out their grills when they are shoveling snow from their walkways. Even so, there is nothing like the first late spring or early summer cookout when it is nice enough to not only cook outside, but eat outside, too. Despite the popularity of grilling, it still ranks as one cooking method that begs a lot of questions- how hot should the grill be? How can I tell when the food is done? What kind of meat should I buy?

Oh, that last question was a good one - what kind of meat works best for the grill? The short answer is: Really, anything goes. Helpful, right? Let’s look at it by different kinds of meat.


When grilling chicken, it is possible to do a whole bird, but for quick-cooking, cut-up pieces are the way to go. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts tend to grill up more evenly than bone-in pieces and can easily take on flavors of sauces, marinades and rubs. Any sauces that contain a high sugar content, like BBQ sauce, should be added during the last few minutes of cooking to prevent burning. Trim fat and skin to help prevent flare-ups (this can apply to any type of meat you choose to grill). Check out our Grilling: Chicken Breast Recipes collection for dinnertime inspiration.


Pork loin, chops, and ribs are all great choices when it comes to grilling. Pork chops will grill up the fastest, but look for chops that are thicker to help prevent the meat from getting too dry during the cooking process. Lean cuts, like pork loin or chops, are also a great option for pre-grill brining. For more information about the benefits of check out brining, this article. Ribs need to cook over low heat for a longer time to get that fall-off- the-bone tenderness that makes them so irresistible.


Beef can take on number of different forms when it comes to grilling. The same rule of “low and slow” applis to beef ribs as mentioned above for pork. Almost any steaks can (and should) be prepared on the grill. Strip steak and flank steak are great grilled up, sliced thin and used for fajitas or tacos. Strip loin or New York strip is a great option for grilling, as it tends to cook very evenly and is generally a little more price savvy than filet mignon, T-bone or rib eye. Steak on the Grill is a collection of great recipes to plan your next outdoor meal. By far the most popular grilled beef option is the burger. For a great-tasting burger, look for an 80/20 or 85/15 meat-to-fat ratio ground beef. Higher fat means a juicier and more flavorful burger. And don’t limit your burgers to just ground beef – try turkey, chicken, or even pork for a twist on burger night. For more information about grilling up a great burger, check out these tips from Kim.


Seafood and fish can also be delicious on the grill. Firm fish, such as salmon or tuna, cook beautifully when put directly on the grill grates. For a more delicate fish, like snapper, try using a grill basket to prevent breaking and sticking. Seafood like shrimp and scallops are best grilled by skewering several together to make flipping easy.

A little extra know-how will make all of your grilled meals a success, no matter what time of year.


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