Last year, we became proud parents of a Big Green Egg charcoal cooker. I had been eyeing them up for years, and I was attracted to them because of their versatility – you can grill, roast, and even bake on this bad boy. And, according to their cult-like following, the flavors that come out of the BGE simply cannot be matched by any other grill. Now that I own one, I’m a believer and the grill has become an important part of our outdoor lifestyle.
I’m by no means a master of my grill just yet, but I’m always looking for new recipes and ways to perfect grilling. Recently, I came across a recipe for grilled meatball sandwiches complete with crusty French baguette, melted provolone cheese, and arugula pesto. Besides drooling at the thought, I found myself a bit frightened. Why frightened? Well, I hadn’t quite perfected non-stick grilling and my food sometimes came off the grill in several tattered pieces. These soft meatballs seemed like they’d be really hard to cook on all sides without having big chunks of them stuck to the grill. Not one to give in to my fears, I started researching the topic of non-stick grilling.
What I’ve learned has been life changing! I have made several meals, including those meatballs, that released easily from the grill and made it to my plate in one pretty piece. And, I did it without spraying any sort of questionable non-stick stuff that ended up in my food. I’m about to tell you how non-stick grilling is done, no matter what kind of grill you have, and it’s way easier than you think.
- Food sticks to dirty grills. So, before each and every time you grill, start with a clean grate. Before you begin cooking, fire up your grill and get it blazin’ hot. My Big Green Egg can quickly reach temperatures of more than 700º and any food left on the grates becomes kind of, well, toast. After several minutes of high heat, very carefully open the lid and use a metal scrubber or scraper to easily dislodge anything that hasn’t already fallen away. I use a tool that has a scraper on one side and a metal scrubbing pad on the other. It only takes a pass or two to completely clean the grates. A bonus to this method is that once your food is cooked, you can sit and enjoy it without worrying about cleaning the grill. You’ll do it the next time you use it.
- Season your grates. Now that everything is clean as a whistle, wad up a paper towel and pour a few glugs of olive oil on it. Using long-handled tongs, grab the paper towel and wipe the olive oil all over the grates. The oil applied when the grill is already hot creates a nice coating that helps food release much easier.
Adjust the grill to the desired temperature for cooking and add your food. One common mistake people make when grilling is to put the food on before the grill is ready. Because you’ve already had your grill heated up for some time in order to clean it, this won’t be an issue. Now, wait a few minutes and resist the urge to flip or move food. One of the best things about grilled food is that sought-after crusty sear that adds loads of flavor. This is caused by the proteins in the food binding. A perfect sear not only tastes great, but it will enable food to easily release from the grill in one piece.
Simple as that! If you follow these easy steps, you’ll be on your way to fearless, non-stick grilling all season.