How to get those sexy ‘Grill Marks’ on your food

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Chicken on the grill with grill marks

Just seeing them makes your inner voice say “Yes!”

Grill marks are sexy.  Yeah, I said it.  Believe me, there’s no feeling like turning that meat (or veggie) for the first time on the grill and seeing some deep and well defined marks on your food.  It communicates that  you know what you’re doing and that the food is gonna be fantastic!  While it ain’t as easy as it looks, you can still get perfect grill marks on your food every time.  And we’re going to discuss exactly how you can get it done.

My Story

So how do you get grill marks on your food?  We’ll get into that, but I want to share a personal story first.  I remember back when I began cooking, I was as happy as a lark plying my trade.  There were hits, and there were misses.  That’s all part of it.  Well this one particular time, I had finally reached the point where I could grill a pretty tasty steak.  So I made some for me and my better half.  And when I presented the finished product to her she says “Where are those lines?  You know, like in the restaurant?” Let’s just say that it was a bit of a setback for the up-and-coming grillmaster.  I was mortified because although she didn’t mean anything by it, all I heard was ‘why is YOUR cooking so amateurish?’  I never forgot that, so I set out to make sure that my cooking quality would never be questioned again.  So one thing I did pick up was how to get those grill marks that everybody loves.

What You’ll Need

Alright now, let’s get to it!  There are three things that you’ll need in order to get grill marks on your meats, veggies, and fruit.  They are:

  1. A clean grill
  2. A HOT grill
  3. An oiled grill

Of course you will need some vittles to cook, but that’s obvious.  So here we go.

Clean Your Grill

It is very necessary that you clean the grill before cooking.  Why?  Because in this specific instance, the leftover particles and crap that’s still stuck to the grates will stick to your food.  That’s no good because it can interfere with ‘marking’ the meat(s).  And you don’t want that.  So fire up your grill like normal.  Once it gets hot, get your wire brush and scrape it pretty good.  Remember, that baby is hot, so you won’t have to worry about wondering how long to scrape it.  The heat will let you know.  The idea is to remove the gunk from the grates prior to the grilling session.

Let Your Grill Get Hot

This is the key to the equation.  Once the coals have ashed over, you know its time to place the grates back on and cover the grill.  Here’s the key; go back in the house and start making your potato salad, or watch a half inning of the ballgame, or fix up your beverage.  Do anything you want for the next 10-12 minutes, because you’re giving the grates time to get hot.  The point here is that you want to allow the grates to absorb that heat so that your meat sears as soon as it hits that grill.

Oil Up the Grill

Now that your grill is hot, get yourself a good quality paper towel and soak it in some vegetable oil.  Next, take a pair of tongs and rub them on your grates to coat them.  You just want to get a nice little coating on your grates (without spilling a bunch of oil into the coal bed) for the cooking.  The reason this step is important is because coating your grill ensures that your food will not stick to the grates when you go to turn it.  Basically, it allows for a smoother transfer, or flip of the meat. (I personally don’t do this.  My technique is to leave the food on a little longer and then flip.  You can be successful either way.)

Get Those Grill Marks

The cooking is easy.  Once you’ve cleaned your grill, allowed it to heat up and oiled it, your grill marks will be easy to achieve.  Here’s how to do it; place your food on the grill, close it, and wait a couple of minutes (I personally wait four or five, depending on the cut of the meat).  Then open it up and turn your food.  Viola!  What you have there are grill marks on your meat folks!  And when you know the steps, the results can be attained with ease. Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Yes, the steps are the same, but the variables are different.  Fish won’t need to stay on as long as beef.  Veggies will grill faster than all meats generally.  With a little experience, you will get a feel for how long to cook your foods.

Now get out there and have some fun.

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