Cooking on the grill seems to be the easiest thing in the world: lighting, flinging meat or vegetables, cooking until the end.
And you've probably learned some tips and tricks on how to marinate meat overnight and allow it to come to room temperature before cooking
Guess what? Traditional wisdom is not always wise, especially when it comes to the grill. These two examples, for example? Do not believe anyone. So says Meathead Goldwyn (yes, that's his nom-de-plume), author of the bestselling book "Meathead: The Science of Big Barbecue and Barbecues."
Let's take a look at some other widely accepted barbecuing practices Goldwyn's are totally bunk.
Myth # 1
: Chicken Juices Should Go Clear
It is no secret that undercooked chicken can be dangerous, but according to Goldwyn, the juice color is not indicative of when a bird is done. Instead, he says, the only thing that matters is the temperature: 160 to 165 degrees is the point at which it is safe to eat. Use a meat thermometer that is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken to check it.
Why can chicken juices still appear pink, even when the chicken is completely cooked? For starters, it's not blood: it's a protein called myoglobin. And because there are many factors involved in cooking chickens (especially acid), "the color of the juices may remain pink long after the pasteurization and safety of the rose," says Goldwyn.
Myth # 2: Oil the Grill to Prevent Meat from Sticking
No, says Goldwyn: Oil the meat instead. That's what his colleague, physicist and food scientist Professor Greg Blonder from Boston University says. Actually, it's okay to oil the grates when they're below the smoke point, says Blonder, but if you wait, the oil "cracks, smokes and caramelizes almost immediately", which can negatively affect the taste of the meeting and even make it sticking worse.
To be sure, oil the meat, which is cold and therefore keeps it from burning and cracking.
Myth # 3: Marinating makes meat better
This surprised me. Goldwyn states that most marinades do not actually penetrate more than a fraction of the surface of the meat and are therefore not suitable for thicker cuts. In fact, if this outer surface is kept moist, meat does not brown so well and therefore can not be as robust as a flavor.
So, instead of marinating, he says, use spices and lots of salt all over the outside of the meat. The latter will help to keep the meat moist, which is the key to good taste.
Myth # 4: Lifting the lid increases cooking time
Goldwyn cites the old chestnut: "Do not look." The rationale is that over-opening the grill gives off all the heat, thereby increasing the time it takes to finish longer-cooked meat such as ribs and beef breasts.
But here's the thing: It's the heat on the surface of the meat that cooks the inside of the meat, so while opening the lid, you can let out the warm air "the meat notices hardly, "says Goldwyn. "So a minute here or there to staple the meat, to turn positions for uniformity, or to insert a thermometer, time is well spent."
Myth no. 5: First, then sear, then boil
Whoa, whoa, whoa – this is a myth ? If I had a nickel, how many times I have heard this advice, I would sit on a mountain of nickel.
Here's the wiser way, according to Goldwyn: Create two heating zones on your grill, one direct and one indirect. (On a gas grill, this means putting one burner up and blowing out the other.) Heat the meat on the indirect side until it is within 10-15 degrees of the target temperature, then move it to the direct side burner) , Turn it every minute or two until it is seared on both sides.
This is called a reverse fire, and Goldwyn insists that cooking thicker pieces of meat is the better way.
What do you think of Meathead's advice and what? Grilling myths did you break yourself?
Read more: Goldwyn's 10 grilling myths that must go away
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: Consider this your guide to cooking like a pro at your next BBQ.