Grilling is a favorite activity for many, especially during warm weather. There’s nothing better than firing up a grill whether it is a gas or charcoal grill and cooking outside. The key to a great grilling experience lies in choosing the right meat. This choice can greatly affect the taste and texture of your meal.
The best grillmasters will tell you that if you pick the wrong meat for the grill it can lead to a very underwhelming experience. When you pick the right meats, it is not only a joy to cook, but the flavors and textures make it a truly magical meal. In this article, we will go over several tips to help you get the most out of the grilling experience by choosing the right meats.
1 – Understanding the different meats
When it comes to grilling, the type of meat you choose is as important as how you cook it. Each type of meat offers unique flavors and textures. Some make it suitable for grilling while other textures make it a less than ideal choice.
Beef is a classic choice for grilling. Popular cuts for the grill include ribeye, sirloin, and T-bone. What all of those cuts have in common is that they do best with fast cooking over high heat so they are ideal for grilling.
For those looking for a gourmet experience, American Wagyu steaks are renowned for their incredible marbling and tenderness, making them a luxurious choice for a special grilling occasion.
Pork is one of the most versatile options for the grill. Pork chops, with their balance of lean meat and fat, are perfect for quick, high-heat grilling. Ribs, whether baby back or spare, are a grilling staple known for their rich flavor when cooked slowly over lower heat. The tenderloin is another excellent choice, known for its tenderness and ease of cooking.
Chicken is a very popular choice and also has a lot of versatility. Wings cooked over the grill are very popular and make a great finger food for a cookout. The legs and thighs are perfect for barbecue with a sweet and tangy sauce lathered on after cooking.
2 – Important factors to consider
There are a few factors to consider beyond what type of meat and cut to choose from that will impact how good your results are. When you know what other factors to look for you can zero in on the right choice every time.
Freshness is the most important factor to think about when choosing meat. Fresh meat should have a vibrant color. For beef, look for a vibrant red color. Pink should be a bit rosy and pink and poultry should be white or off white but never gray.
The meat should also have a firm texture and not feel slimy. A fresh smell is essential. Any sour or weird odors are a clear sign to avoid that meat. Always check the sell-by date if you’re buying packaged meat.
Whether the meat has a bone or is boneless is going to have a big impact on the cooking method and flavor of the meat. Bone-in meats, like T-bone steaks or chicken thighs, often have more flavor as the bone adds depth during cooking. They also cook more slowly, which can be beneficial for even grilling. Boneless meats are easier to handle and cook more quickly, making them a convenient option for a fast meal.
3 – Pairing options
When choosing the meat to cook, you also have to think about what else you’ll be serving. When the pairing options are optimized, the whole experience is elevated. Think of grilling as a balanced experience and you’ll understand why the choice of side dish and other accompaniments is also a factor when choosing the meat.
For beef, sides that offer a bit of acidity or bitterness can balance the fat. Grilled vegetables, like asparagus or bell peppers, and a tangy coleslaw work well. A dab of horseradish cream can add a nice kick.
Pork pairs beautifully with sweet and savory sides. Applesauce, grilled peaches, or a corn and tomato salad complement pork chops or tenderloin nicely. For sauces, a classic barbecue sauce or a honey mustard glaze pairs well with the pork’s natural flavors without overpowering them. A side of baked beans or mashed sweet potatoes also goes well with pork, especially ribs.
With poultry, like chicken or turkey, you have a lot of versatility. Lighter sides such as a fresh green salad with vinaigrette dressing works well.