Grilling season is officially here, and folks across the country will be firing up their grills for casual summertime meals.
Here are five simple tips to help you grill meat like a pro.
First and foremost, keep your grill grates hot, clean and oiled. A clean grill with oiled grates will keep food from sticking. Before placing food on a hot grill, scrub the grates with a heavy-duty grill brush, and lightly brush the grates with oil using a brush or a paper towel. Scrub the grates one last time when you are finished cooking.
Be patient, and turn your meat just once. To get killer grill marks, turn your meat only after it has been on the grill for a couple of minutes. Meat is ready to be turned when it easily releases from the grill.
Grip, don't stab, your meat. Use a set of tongs, not a barbecue fork, to turn a piece of meat. Forks poke holes in meat, allowing those precious juices to drain out.
Most important, know when your meat is done. Nothing is worse than an overcooked piece of meat. It is always better to err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking. You can always put a piece of food back on the grill, but you can't salvage an overcooked dish. An instant-read meat thermometer is the best way to tell if your meat is ready.
Finally, let your meat rest when you pull it off the grill. Allowing a piece of meat to rest for 5 minutes before slicing will give it time for the juices to re-circulate, resulting in a juicier, more tender dish.
Now you are ready to grill dishes like a flavor-packed Balsamic Beef Tenderloin.
Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99), "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99), and "Simply Grilling" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99. She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters. For more recipes and dinner time solutions, visit cookwithjennifer.com.
Balsamic Beef Tenderloin
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
1 beef tenderloin (3 lbs.), trimmed
Vegetable oil, for the grates
Mix the garlic, salt, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, oil, Italian seasoning and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
Place the meat in a nonreactive dish. Rub the paste evenly over the meat, cover and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
Preheat a clean grill to medium high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.
Remove the tenderloin from the marinade. Discard the marinade.
Place the tenderloin on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning several times, until the meat is well browned on all sides and cooked to the desired temperature, 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare.
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Cooking tip: An instant-read meat thermometer is the best way to tell if your tenderloin is ready. For medium-rare, the thermometer should read 130 degrees, since the temperature will rise another 5 to 10 degrees while the tenderloin is resting.
Do-Ahead: The marinade can be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Variation: Don't have time to marinate your tenderloin? Just brush with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Follow the cooking directions as given above.