Grilling season is upon us! The sun is out, the air is warm, and the best part is, grilling season is starting. If you love your grilled burgers and steaks, tender pork liempo, and slow-roasted ribs, it’s your season to shine outside the kitchen.
But if you’re one of those of people who continue to believe in a few myths that still rule the barbecue pit, read on for a wake-up call. While some grilling truths are based on facts, proven to be true time and again, some grilling myths have been scientifically busted.
So, to avoid grilling mistakes before you begin the grilling session, here are five myths that you need to stop believing in:
Myth 1: Searing seals in the juices.
Fact: It doesn’t. If you’ve ever had a perfectly-seared burger leak a pool of juices on a plate before, you know this is a myth.
In fact, searing does something different all together. Searing, in the culinary world, is defined as the act of quickly browning meat over high heat. While it was previously thought to seal in the liquids that make meat juicy, it doesn’t and is, instead, a way to develop even more flavor. Searing starts a chemical reaction that creates a browned crust while it cooks the raw meat, and it is this browning that changes the way it tastes, making it even more flavorful, meaty, and delicious.
So, searing is what you do to cook a more flavorful burger. How you long you sear it (No to overcooking!) is what determines whether your meat is juicy or not. And the best thing is, searing can be done on the grill, on the stovetop, or in an oven under the broiler.
Myth 2: Don’t flip more than once.
Fact: Just like searing doesn’t seal in the juices, flipping any number of times won’t cause your burger to be any less juicy than one that was flipped only once. If anything, flipping regularly may actually cause your burger to cook more evenly and because you are actually more attentive to your burger, you’re more likely cook it to your desired doneness, too.
But don’t flip too early after placing the meat on the grill. Let the meat cook first before flipping so that the meat is seared (see Myth 1).
Myth 3: Marinades deeply penetrate the meat.
Fact: Marinating is a great way to introduce different flavors to meats. However, the marinade doesn’t infuse its flavor very far into the meat. It will actually only flavor the few millimeters that it touches. So, basically, only the outside of the meat will be marinated.
But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Marinades are intensely flavorful for a reason. Even that little bit of flavor penetration into the meat is enough to give it flavor. So it’s okay to marinate as long as you don’t scrimp on ingredients when making it so you can cook the tastiest meat.
Myth 4: Salting your meats before grilling makes it tough and dry.
Fact: Salt is an essential flavor enhancer. But it also draws out moisture from the meat if left on for too long. However, you may actually want to salt it before grilling, even if it’s just an hour before grilling for two reasons: One, the salt would have dissolved, allowing it to begin to flavor the meat (this is called dry brining). And two, salt draws out moisture from the surface of the meat, which is actually a good thing. It’s harder to properly brown meat when it’s wet, and so, when this happens, blot out the excess moisture before grilling so you can achieve perfectly-browned meats every time.
Myth 5: Use your hand to determine doneness.
Fact: No two hands are alike, so what’s medium for you may be well done for me. So, the only tool that can reliably measure whether a piece of meat has been cooked to its correct temperature is a thermometer.
And while there are experienced cooks and chefs who can instinctively determine when the steak is perfectly cooked to medium-rare, only a thermometer can accurately determine that your grilled chicken is cooked through, your steak is cooked to medium, and that your burger has been grilled perfectly.