Everything You Need to Know to Barbecue like a Grill Master

Nothing says summer like fresh grilled meats and vegetables. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a BBQ Pitmaster or Kansas City Barbecue Society Member to grill up delicious food or host an impressive BBQ at home. We’re sharing tips from Chicago q (an urban BBQ restaurant) chef and partner Lee Ann Whippen, who just so happens to boast the aforementioned accolades. Whippen, who loves to grill even when she’s not at her famed restaurant, sat down with The Everygirl to share her grilling secrets.

Whippen recommends a gas grill for new grillers as they are easier to maintain heat and temperature on. You want to find a grill that has a good BTU, typically around 100 BTUs for each square inch of surface on the grill itself. With gas grills, don’t go for the cheapest option as they can often die after a year. Instead, go with a well-known and trusted brand. If you’re in the market for a grill, figure out what is going to best for your space and what’s allowed. Many apartments, like mine, do not permit charcoal grills. If you’re already comfortable with grilling, Lee Ann recommends the purchase of a charcoal grill, as they provide the real, freshly grilled taste that is associated with BBQ. Whippen prefers either a Green Egg or Weber Kettle Grill.

Here are a few tips from one of our favorite BBQ chefs to help you get started.

Grilling Tips

  • When prepping the grill, make sure grates are cleaned or scraped prior to lighting, and grease them with oil on cloth to prevent future sticking.
  • To turn on a gas grill, always make sure the lid is open before turning on the gas. Once you do that, you can turn on a burner and press the auto light or ignition key.
  • Starting a charcoal gas, while a bit more intensive, is easier when using either fire starters, which you can get at your local grocery store, or a chimney, like the one I use. For this, you place charcoal into the top of the cylinder and newspaper on the bottom, which is then lit. This causes the charcoal to light from the bottom to the top and you can add it to the grill underneath the grates.

Prepping and Grilling Meat

  • Select a variety of different kinds and cuts of meats, it’s not just about hot dogs and hamburgers anymore.
  • Season your meats at least 2 hours prior to cooking to allow dry rubs to become web marinates. Just be careful with the amount of salt as it can dry up your meat.
  • Wait until the last 20 minutes to sauce meat to prevent sugars from burning the outside of the meat.
  • Never use flavored charcoal or lighter fluid, as it leaves food with lingering chemical taste.
  • Can’t tell if you’re ready to flip? If the juices are coming out of the top center, then the meat is ready to flip.
  • If looking to add smokiness, try flavored woodchips, soaked in water for 30 minutes ahead of time. Then, add the wood on top of the hot coals and allow them to burn until they are no longer flaming and begin producing smoke. Lee Ann prefers cherry, apple, hickory and pecan, if you can find it.
  • Use a thermometer to tell if you’re meat is ready.
  • Always let meat rest 20 to 30 minutes before cutting to seal in flavors.
  • Purchase an instant-read thermometer that gauges the internal product temperature to make sure everything is cooked.

Prepping and Grilling Fish

  • A great preparation for fish is stuffing it with slices of lemon and lime, and springs of thyme.
  • Choose a thick and meaty fish like Tuna, Salmon or Mahi Mahi that can hold up to the heat without falling apart.
  • When grilling a whole fish, use fish racks as they keep the fish intact while flipping with ease.
  • When grilling a whole fish, use fish racks as they keep the fish intact while flipping with ease. Grease the racks ahead of time to prevent sticking.

Grilling Fruit and Vegetables

  • Keep vegetable marinades simple and grill over medium heat to get charred grill marks without over cooking.
  • Throw assorted fruits onto the grill to make your bbq light and colorful!
  • Throw assorted fruits onto the grill to make your bbq light and colorful!
  • Be sure to cut the fruit but make sure it’s not so small that it will fall through grates.
  • Slowly grill fruit so the natural sugars will caramelize.