Grilling tips to close out the summer season in style

·3 min read

Aug. 17—Only a month of summer remains — not that the official start and end dates of summer matter in the Golden Isles — but that's no reason to put the grill away just yet. In fact, with football season kicking off Sept. 3, it's really just the beginning.

There are a few rules to follow if you want to get the most out of your time slaving over the coals, however. Brunswick has no shortage of experts who are more than willing to share their expertise in that arena.

If you ask Judd and Kate Foster of South of Heaven BBQ — a relatively recent addition to the Altama Avenue corridor — the No. 1 rule is patience. Don't rush to get your food off the coals. A good medium rare burger can come off the grill in less than 10 minutes, but when smoking a Foster favorite, pork butt, sometimes the meat's internal temperature can "stall" for upwards of two hours.

"Just don't get discouraged," Judd said.

Deriving directly from that is knowing your temperatures. There's a range when it comes to steak or burger, Judd says, from rare to the dreaded well done, but for chicken you want to play it safe at 165 degrees minimum. E. coli and salmonella don't make for a fun after-party.

For steak on the grill, don't eat it at any lower than 125 degrees if you want it rare; 130 for medium rare; 135 for medium; 140 for medium well; and 155 for well done. For those who want their beef cooked all the way through, start at medium well. Hamburger temperatures are about the same.

Pork on the grill can come off at around 145 for a medium rare cut, up to 160 for well done.

Another tip for smokers, in particular, is to employ a warming box, Judd said. One can find purpose-made warming boxes, but Judd's always had just as good results using a cooler packed with towels.

If you're smoking something, you can take a piece of beef, pork or sausage off the grill a little before it's done, Judd said, and put it in a warming box to let it rest in its own heat and juices. Not so for chicken. Stick to the recommended 165-degree minimum. If you're smoking beef, pull off at around 160, pork at 145-150, or if you're smoking a butt, at 200-205.

Kate says one of the most crucial steps in any successful meal, not simply limited to grilling but perhaps most important there, is planning out your seasoning and marinating well ahead of time.

Don't just haphazardly throw seasoning on a burger patty or dunk a chicken in brine for a few hours. Take the time to do it right.

Kate prefers to keep it simple, with a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic on her burgers. When marinating, especially when it comes to poultry, give it plenty of time to stew. Marinate for no less than 24 hours before cooking.

They thought of it last perhaps because it's likely the most obvious to anyone familiar with a grill.

"Make sure you get the coals good and grey, or you'll be tasting briquettes," Judd said.

Try your hand at a few of these tips by grilling tri-tip steaks, a rising favorite in the backyard barbeque world according to Foster.

Reverse-seared tri-tip steak

Tri-tip steak cuts

Coarse salt

Thick grind pepper

Directions: Light the coals and let them grey. Push them all to one side and set the cuts on the other, after adding a generous helping of "Dalmatian seasoning," which is what the Fosters call 50-50 salt and pepper mix. Make it a coarse salt and thick pepper grind for the best taste.

To reverse sear the steaks, set them on the opposite side of the grill from the coals until their internal temperature reaches 120 to 125 degrees. Move the tips directly over the coals to sear the outside for a delicious, medium rare piece of meat.