Most people would agree that the unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day, and the unofficial end of the season falls on Labor Day. In between those two holidays, you have three full months filled with great weather, fun activities, and lots of good food! For plenty of grilling enthusiasts, summer marks the time of year where they can show off their skills to friends and family, and try out those new recipes they’ve kept in their back pocket throughout the winter and spring. For some backyard chefs, however, the peak grilling season can bring a bit of anxiety. Maybe you just bought your first grill, or you’re feeling a bit rusty since the last time you took the ol’ grilling machine for a spin. Regardless, now’s your chance to dive back in and immerse yourself in the grilling lifestyle.
Before you get to Memorial Day, and certainly by the time Labor Day arrives, you’ll become a grill master just by understanding and creating your own version of the grilling mainstays. Every grill master should be equipped with these four recipes, so grab your notebook and add a few tasty dishes to your repertoire.
1. Grilling the Perfect Steak
Seasoned grilling veterans will tell you that steak might possibly be the hardest grilled food to get right on a consistent basis. But don’t let that dissuade you from giving this the old college try! To cook steak, you must first understand that the term is all-inclusive and covers many different variations of beef cuts. You should also know that getting the internal temperature just right may be the hardest part.
There are four main cuts you might see in the meat department, or at your local butcher. Filet mignon, also known as a tenderloin steak, is perhaps the softest and most tender cut of steak. New York strip steak, which also goes by Kansas City strip, or top sirloin steak, is not as tender as a filet, but offers medium fat content and a good beefy flavor. Porterhouse, or T-bone steak, lives up to its name. The T-shaped bone separates two cuts; tenderloin on one side and New York strip on the other. Finally, rib eye steak, which comes from the upper ribcage, has plenty of fat marbling and can be sold bone-in or boneless. Over time, you’ll develop a preference for one of these, or be tasked with cooking within a reasonable budget. With these constraints in mind, the key is to look for steak that contains marbling, also known as the white flecks and streaks of fat within the lean sections of meat. Having more marbling in your steak generally means you’ve chosen a more flavorful of meat, and when cooked at a high, direct heat, the marbling in steak begins to melt and coat the muscle fibers surrounding it, giving your steak a bold and beefy flavor. The most common way to cook a steak on your grill is giving it a generous seasoning of Kosher salt and cooking it over high heat on for about four to five minutes until the steak is seared golden brown. Then turn the steak over, and let it grill for another three to five minutes for a medium-rare steak, or five to seven minutes for a medium steak. If you want to take things to the next level, try giving your steak a few sear marks, or try restaurant-style using a cast-iron skillet. This will definitely win you some points with your guests! For added tips and tricks on grilling steak, be sure to check out our How to Grill the Perfect Steak blog!
2. What to Know About Grilling Chicken
Grilling chicken is more of an art than a science, but there are still a few things to keep in mind to make sure your grilled chicken turns out the way it should. Like most meats, chicken tastes better when it is packed full of flavor from a great marinade, or plenty of seasoning. On top of creating a unique taste, marinades also help keep the chicken from drying out while grilling – a mistake that is all too common. Our page of marinades and rubs is a great place to get some inspiration for the next day out at the grill. A few simple ingredients can easily change the style of chicken you’ll be having for lunch or dinner. For example, this Fajita Marinade, with fresh thyme and oregano, will create a much different taste for your chicken than this Korean Chicken Marinade that features soy sauce and hot chili paste. When you get to the grilling part, keep in mind the two main methods to cooking a delicious piece of chicken breast. Searing and indirect cooking are essential to making the best tasting chicken. The process of searing simply means cooking the surface of your meat at a high temperature to seal in juices and caramelize the sugars found naturally in food. Indirect cooking, however, is just the opposite. This is where you utilize a low-to-medium heat to cook your food convection-style, preventing it from burning. Both of these methods are valuable when grilling chicken. Thin cuts of chicken breast require less cooking time, and the higher heat that comes with searing will allow your chicken to make its way from the grill to your plate in no time. Thicker cuts of chicken will require a longer period to cook. Rather than using a consistent high heat for a long time, use indirect heat to cook your chicken evenly until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Eating anything short of “well done” chicken can pose a health risk. For additional details on minimum internal temperatures of all meats, consult our grilling temperature guide.
3. Balance out Your Meal with Grilled Vegetables
There’s almost no limit to what kinds of vegetables you can throw on the grill. While traditional starchy vegetables such as corn are delicious on the grill, having a variety of different types of veggies like onions, mushrooms, and broccoli provide more nutritional value and antioxidants. True grill masters understand that the food they serve requires balance, and veggies are an easy way to add color and taste to your next cookout. Because vegetables don’t require a minimum internal temperature or have too many strict preparation guidelines, they become a simple and valuable part of any cookout as well. Keep these steps in mind when grilling vegetables.
Step 1: Pick an assortment of veggies
The first step in this process is selecting a medley of vegetables that will complement your main dish, or that you simply enjoy. Cut up and dice a few mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and zucchini for this bundle of veggies recipe. Once prepared, set them off to the side of your grill, or leave them in the kitchen and proceed to step two.
Step 2: Build your base
Tear off a sizeable portion of aluminum foil to accommodate the amount of vegetables you plan on preparing. If you plan on making several portions, feel free to use multiple pieces of foil to allow for a more thorough grill. Place your vegetables near the center of your foil and get ready to add some more flavor.
Step 3: Take it up a notch
Enhance the taste of your veggies with a coat of oil and seasoning. Add a bit of cooking spray over the vegetables and then choose a seasoning. Burger seasoning works well here, but salt and pepper do the trick as well.
Step 4: Fold neatly and start grilling
The final step is to create your pouch. Fold the sides of your aluminum foil over the vegetables. Try to keep the veggies compact, as this will help create and even heat through the center of your pouch. Lastly, take your pouch and place it on the grill over indirect heat. Depending on the vegetables you chose, your pouch should be ready to serve after about 10 minutes on the grill.
For a few veggie recipes that will win over all your friends and family, browse through the Blue Rhino recipes page and start grilling!
4. Learning the Ins and Outs of the Classic Cheeseburger
No cookout is complete without the classic cheeseburger. Two buns carrying a tender and juicy beef patty topped with pickles, onions, lettuce, and cheese – what’s not to love about that? To find meat for your perfect cheeseburger, head on over to your local grocery store, butcher, or farmer’s market, and purchase a ground chuck. More specifically, an 80/20 ground chuck (80% beef, 20% fat). A tip: keep the beef cold from the moment it’s removed from the refrigerator until it’s placed onto the grill. If the patties become warm, you’ll find that the finished product could be quite dry.
Before handling the meat, preheat your grill for approximately 15 minutes. Then, form the patties to about a 1-inch thickness to the edges. Next, sprinkle your favorite burger seasoning on top of each patty. If you’re all about the tastes of seasoning in your meats, go ahead and cover the entirety of the top part of your patty that’s facing up.
Once the grill’s preheated and your cheese and toppings are in order – more on those topics later – you are almost ready to make the magic happen. Depending on how you like your meat cooked, grill each side anywhere from four to nine minutes apiece. Lastly, feel free to experiment with several cheeses and see which one works the best for you and your guests.
Grill Masters Choose Blue Rhino
The best of the best rely on a fuel that’s convenient and a brand that meets their everyday demands! Blue Rhino fits the bill on both accounts and serves as the trusted fuel source for cookouts across the country. Visit our Propane Finder for the closest location carrying Blue Rhino, or sign up for our Home Delivery program where available and start mastering the grilling basics in no time!