Grilling Meat: A Comprehensive Guide
The selection of grilling meat is enormous, and each type of meat differs significantly from the others. Differences in taste are always noticeable, so almost every grill master has their personal favorite grilling meat. Regardless of the type you buy, pay close attention to the condition of the meat. It must be fresh, well-aged for lamb and beef, should not have a strange odor, and must be properly cut with regard to the grain. Whatever meat is preferred, there are significant differences in spices, preparation, and price. Price often plays a role, especially when larger quantities are needed for a gathering. In general, among the various types of grilling meat, you can find both cheaper and more expensive options. Not every type of meat is suitable for every guest, so you should always provide a suitable selection. Some guests may not enjoy lamb, for example. However, when prepared properly, all types of grilling meat taste delicious, just not necessarily to everyone.
Many grill enthusiasts prefer beef among the varieties of grilling meat. When buying, make sure the beef is not bright red. It should have a dark and red color because only then do you get well-aged beef. For a robust flavor, steaks from the hip are suitable as they are more marbled with fat. The rib-eye steak, from the rib area, should be about 4-5cm thick. It is significantly cheaper than the prime rib. By the way, the “eye” is not fat but a tender piece of meat. Sliced as a sirloin steak, the prime rib from the loin is very popular. Beef is grilled for about 3 minutes on each side. Use the hottest spot on the grill for this. Then you can wrap the meat in aluminum foil and continue to cook it for another 4-7 minutes in a less hot spot. Season with salt and pepper just before eating. The Rolls-Royce among beef is Kobe beef from the Kobe region in Japan. It can be grilled just as unremarkably as German beef, but the price can put the grill fan into a state of shock: sometimes up to 400-600 euros per kilo! The price is due to expensive breeding, transportation, and limited availability. Significantly cheaper but extremely delicious is the hamburger from the grill. Fresh ground beef will definitely bring an American vibe to the grill. Use it immediately, as ground meat should only be kept in the refrigerator for a few hours when raw.
Hearty and traditional, pork belly, 1-1.5 cm thick, is popular on the grill. It becomes very crispy after grilling but has a lot of fat. So, if you prefer leaner meat, you won’t be really happy with the crispy belly. When grilling this pork, it’s important not to let the fat drip onto the coals, as it will definitely catch fire due to its fat content. Pork neck is often used for pork steaks as it is inexpensive and requires no great grilling skills. Many pork lovers also opt for simple schnitzels and chops, as they are easy to prepare. The fat edge of the chop should be scored so that the meat does not warp excessively. Pork loin and tenderloin taste great marinated on the grill. Tenderloin is also great for skewers. Be cautious with cured meat as it contains sodium nitrite and should not be grilled! Harmful substances are formed at very high temperatures. Whole roasts and pulled pork from the grill are also delicious, but you need a grill with a lid. Spare ribs also rank very high on the hit list. Pork is cheaper than beef among the varieties of grilling meat and is a real all-rounder on the grill. For pork, back, tenderloin, bacon, belly, and neck are excellent for grilling. Do not slice the meat too thin, as it will dry out faster in this case. Fast and extremely hot grilling is not recommended – rather, lower heat and a bit longer. This way, it remains wonderfully tender.
Poultry from the grill is very tasty among the varieties of grilling meat. Chicken and turkey are very digestible, so even people with very sensitive stomachs can enjoy great treats from the grill. Basically, everything from the chicken can be grilled. Marinated chicken thighs and wings are excellent. With poultry, it’s important to ensure sufficient cooking time, preferably with a lid. Raw poultry should not be eaten as there is a risk of salmonella. For example, thighs need longer on the grill than a steak, so they are grilled slowly and longer. Grilling too quickly would leave the meat raw in the middle while it should have been off the grill from the outside long ago. Duck, on the other hand, is often served rare. If the skin remains on the meat, you will be rewarded with a truly crispy skin. This helps to keep the chicken and turkey tender and juicy. However, if you prefer leaner variations from the grill, it is recommended to remove the skin before or immediately after grilling. Whole chickens from the grill only work with a lid! Chicken skewers made from breast meat are also very tasty, a dream with a curry marinade or lemon. Poultry as grilling meat is usually preferred by children.
When preparing poultry for grilling, the highest value must be placed on hygiene. The thaw water from this type of meat must always be kept away from the finished grilled meat due to the aforementioned salmonella risk. Therefore, never use the grill fork from raw poultry directly on the finished meat from the grill. It is recommended to buy poultry fresh from the market, poultry dealers, and butchers. It should not smell strange or unpleasant, and it should be washed before preparation and dried with paper towels. Handling raw poultry requires a very high level of hygiene.
Nothing divides the grilling community as much as lamb meat. Either passionately loved or rejected – lamb from the grill is truly a matter of taste. Those who have once eaten lower-quality lamb meat with a strong aftertaste often unfairly reject lamb meat in the future. Especially with lamb, it depends a lot on what and where it is bought. Therefore, it is advisable, if the strong taste is not liked, to remove any existing fat before grilling. However, the fat makes the meat juicier. Also, the preparation and marinade are very important factors in whether the lamb meat tastes delicious or rather strong. Lamb meat must be sliced across the grain, preferably by the butcher. Back and neck are ideal for very tender chops in pairs. Lamb legs can also be grilled whole. It is important for lamb meat to be adequately aged; otherwise, it cannot exhibit the desired tenderness. Spices and herbs are a must for lamb meat. Lemon, rosemary, garlic, mint, thyme, and pepper go perfectly with it. It is recommended to prepare lamb meat in grill pans.
5. Wild Game
If you love game, you might want to try grilling this type of meat. This meat has a very unique flavor, which is enhanced by a marinade with buttermilk, bay leaves, juniper berries, and pepper. Wild boar meat is often mentioned as easy to prepare. Since it is similar to lamb and beef on the grill, the preparation is also similar, but there is a significant difference: game meat is generally leaner and therefore dries out faster
on the grill. So, you shouldn’t leave it on the grill for too long. Wild boar can grill a little longer than deer and venison. Popular with grilled game is when the meat has a beautiful pink hue inside. You can wrap the meat in bacon, but this will somewhat diminish the gamey taste. If this unique taste is important to you, you should not marinate young meat too much. Ask your trusted butcher or hunter for game meat from a younger animal. It must generally be suitable for quick roasting. Don’t forget cranberry compote and the right wine!
Storing Meat Properly and Safely
As mentioned earlier, it is advisable to buy and consume meat as fresh as possible. Ideally, the meat should be on the grill the next day, but sometimes this cannot be planned and organized. Since meat is a perishable product, even transport must be well planned. Especially in the warm summer months, it should not remain in the car for long without refrigeration to avoid breaking the important cold chain. It is always a good idea to have a cooler with ice packs for the grilling meat. In the refrigerator, the grill meat should be stored in the coldest spot. Be cautious with raw ground meat, as it should be prepared shortly after purchase. The large surface area is very susceptible and requires careful handling.
It is also important to remove meat from the packaging and store it in cling film or suitable glass or plastic containers. Do not bring it into direct contact with other foods. Raw meat should not be kept in the refrigerator for more than two days. This also applies to cooked meat, which can also suffer in taste. If there is leftover grilled meat after grilling, it must be refrigerated immediately. If it stays warm for too long, consumption is not recommended without concern.
If you plan to consume the purchased grilling meat at a later date, you will need to freeze it. It is recommended to pack the meat in an airtight freezer bag beforehand. This is important because if it is not airtight, you will be annoyed by freezer burn. Do not freeze too many slices on top of each other, as the thawing time will be very long. This is very annoying, especially for a rather spontaneous grilling plan. Thaw the meat not too quickly at extreme temperatures, preferably slowly in the refrigerator. Beef can be stored in the freezer for up to 10 months, while pork, at about 4 months, is significantly less.
Grilling at the Right Temperature
Relevant for success with all types of grilling meat are also the right temperatures. If you have thicker grilling meat, you run the risk of it being very crispy and delicious on the outside but not reaching the desired degree of doneness inside at high temperatures. However, to make the meat tender, it is advisable to use low temperatures and a longer grilling time. Indirect grilling is a good choice, as the meat is cooked in an indirect grill area with a lid. The effect can be compared to a convection oven.
However, if the meat is thin, a long cooking time is not recommended. This type of grilling meat tolerates short grilling at higher temperatures – so direct grilling, which also creates a very crispy crust. Here, the grill can remain open.
Have you ever heard of reverse searing? This is a combination of indirect and direct grilling. First, the meat is gently grilled indirectly, then quickly and hot. A very good variant for chicken, thicker meat like roasts, and potatoes.
Quality Over Quantity
If you want to put delicious grilling meat on the grill, you will surely find large price differences among the varieties of grilling meat. The cheapest option is, of course, at a grocery store, for example. However, if you are interested in animal husbandry and exactly where the meat comes from, you will surely find all the necessary information at the butcher’s shop. What is practical about the butcher is that you will find fresh and pre-marinated grilling meat in the assortment, so that spontaneous grilling can take place. At the butcher’s, you can usually choose from a wide range of marinades. Fresh meat can be bought from some farmers. However, desired items often need to be reserved for the next slaughter date. Online retailers for grilling meat are becoming increasingly popular. The range of grilling meat is very good, so it’s definitely worth comparing among the providers.
In general, when grilling, quality trumps quantity!