Grilling Tips from 640 Meats

Few scents are more welcome than fragrant smoke coming from a barbeque grill. The anticipation of tangy flavors hot off the grill is hard to beat, as simple pleasures go.

Doing it right is another thing, says Peter Lentz, owner of 640 Meats, 6410 E. Riverside Blvd. in Loves Park. As temperatures rise, so do the sales of meats and marinades and requests for advice.

“Grilling is an art,” says Lentz. It starts with good maintenance and cleaning of the grill, inside and out. If using a gas grill,

check for any leaks or disconnections that may have occurred during winter months, he says.The racks should be free of any rust or charcoal from previous grilling. Remove debris with a wire brush and a wet soapy rag. Top it all off with a swipe of freshly cut lemon, if you wish.

“Once you start cooking, you don’t want to play with the food too much,” Lentz advises.

Start with a hot, clean grill to sear in the flavor and juices of whatever you’re cooking; when you can see juice coming out of the top of the meat, it’s time to flip it over. If you want that diamond pattern of grill marks on the food, turn the meat 90 degrees before flipping.

Grilling is a fast way to cook food, but that means it’s easy to lose track of time and overcook food. Watch meat closely unless you want it hard and charred black.

Don’t try to speed up the process by smashing down hamburgers or cutting into steaks to see if they’re done. Foods that are grilled should rest for a few minutes after cooking so juices can evenly redistribute.

It takes about four minutes for most burgers and brats (pre-boiled) to cook and a little longer for thicker cuts of meat, depending on how you want them done.

Just a touch with the utensil will help you decide the temperature of the meat. Meat has a soft touch to it when cooked rare and is firmer when well done.

Fish, which gets flaky when cooked, is best wrapped in a foil while grilling so you don’t lose it down the grates. ❚