We all know (or maybe we don’t ) that as humans we first eat with our eyes and then nose… meaning our first instinct is to approve of a food based on how it looks then how it smells. So even before we take a bite of the food we have assessed if we are going to like it or not..
Visual aesthetic is important in when preparing food as it brings more joy to the experience of eating. When it comes to the grill we have the ability to enhance the visual outcome of what we place on it. This is called grill marks (those dark lines or crosses that rest upon your meat, bread or veggies)
Photo: Rib-eye steak home grilled by Justin Great
One can achieve these lovely marks with a few simple steps.
Step 1: Heat
The grill that you’re using has to get REALLY hot! Your grill should pre-heat (lid down) for about 15 minutes because if your grates are not scorching it won’t create those dark lines and the food has more propensity to stick.. and you don’t want that.
Step 2: Oil
Lightly oil (cooking oil not WD 40 lol) your meat or grates. This will help with sticking and a clean/crisp look for your marks.
Step 3: Time
No matter what, after placing your food on the grill RESIST THE URGE TO TOUCH IT. If your flip trigger happy you will never get those glorious grill marks. The meat, fruit, veggies, bread ect. needs time to create its marks. If you absolutely must check the meat, slightly tug the meat upward and look but do not fully lift the meat or flip it until there is no stick and you see the grill marks that are to your liking. (The food will release from the grill naturally and will not stick when the grill marks are strong)
Step 4: Finish
After you flip the your food and see those lovely grill marks repeat the process for the other side. One thing to remember is that grill marks are not necessary for both sides of the food especially when cooking to temperature as grill marks are for pleasing the eye and generally we only see one side when food is plated. When grilling meat leaving it on the same amount of time as the first side can result in a well done effect depending on the thickness of the meat, which can ruin certain types of meat creating dryness. In this case use a cooking thermometer to check for done-ness so that you have it at your preferred temperature.
Some meats are cut pretty thick and If your grill is extremely hot, the meat will create grill marks on both sides without it fully being cooked internally.. In this case pull the meat off of the grill and finish it in the oven. This will allow you to keep your great grill marks with out burning the exterior on the grill.
Photo: Rib-eye steaks and chicken thighs home grilled by Justin Great