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Choosing the Right Meat for the Grill and How to Grill It

Do you get bored with the same meats on your grill week after week? You shouldn’t have to because there are so many different options. A perfect backyard BBQ meal is the result of a combination of the right cut and type of meat and cooking technique.

If you are ready to take your grilling game to the next level, here is what you need to know.

Beef

When most people think of firing up the grill, they choose some type of beef as the main course. Whether you are grilling burgers, flank steak, or a NY strip, the quality of the beef you purchase and your technique matters.

Choosing the Right Cut of Beef

If you are making burgers, regular ground beef will have the most flavor only because it has the highest fat content (roughly 25%). If you want a burger with less fat content, choose something like ground chuck or ground sirloin.

When choosing steaks to grill, you will want to think about how you plan to grill it as well as your budget. For example, flank and skirt steaks and beef tri-tips are budget-friendly and do well with a dry rub or marinade. A NY strip or filet mignon is more costly, but also incredibly flavorful.

When picking out your meat, here are some of the ways you can judge it:

  • Marbling– Pay attention to the fat (white lines) on the meat. This gives the meat flavor and moisture during the cooking process.
  • Grade– Higher grades of meat will generally have more marbling. For beef, look for USDA grades that are Prime, Choice, or Select (Prime is the highest).
  • Color– Beef should dark red or cherry in color, not brown.
  • Cut – Different cuts of beef work better with different styles of cooking. Smaller cuts are better for grilling and larger ones are ideal for smoking.

How to Grill It

Hamburger patties are quick and easy to cook on the grill. Maintain a medium-low heat to make sure your burger cooks evenly and achieves the proper internal temperature before the outside of the burger burns. Your target internal temperature is 160° F. For best results flip your burger once and do not press your burger with you grill tool (i.e. spatula) as it will allow juices to escape and dry your burger out. You will also want to use high to medium heat to cook steaks on the grill, again flipping them just once to lock in the juices and avoid drying them out. And remember, temperature matters.

Pork

If you want to grill pork, most people go for the ribs, but other popular options are pork chops as well as a pork butt or shoulder roast.

How to Choose Pork for Your BBQ

Pork doesn’t come in grades like beef, but certain breeds will have higher levels of marbling, such as Berkshire and Duroc. Pork should be red to pink in color, never green or brown.

How to Grill It

If you are cooking ribs, they need low heat for a long time. When cooking pork chops you should consider two levels of heat. First, sear your chops over a high heat for about 3 minutes per side to create the grill marks on the outside of the chop. Then, lower the heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes to finish cooking the chops. When grilling pork of any type, make sure you do not overcook it so that it becomes dry.

Chicken

Chicken is excellent on the grill! You can grill chicken wings, drumsticks, or boneless breasts. Or, you could just cut up a whole chicken and put it on the BBQ.

How to Choose Chicken for Your BBQ

Poultry comes in grades A, B, and C, but you are likely to only see Grade A chicken at your local grocery store. Poultry should also be pink, not white, or brown.

How to Grill It

Chicken is one of the easiest meats to grill, and it’s so versatile. You can marinate it with lime juice or teriyaki or coat it with your favorite BBQ sauce for additional flavor and moisture. Grill your chicken on medium heat. Chicken breasts and thighs will tend to cook the most evenly. For white meat, your chicken is done at about 170-degrees and you should aim for 180-degrees with dark meat.

Turkey

Turkey on the BBQ? You bet! Similar to chicken, you can purchase turkey breast cutlets that are low fat and delicious when grilled.

How to Choose Turkey for Your BBQ

When choosing turkey for your next BBQ, simply use the same criteria that you would for chicken.

How to Grill It

Since turkey can dry easily, it’s a good idea to marinate it before grilling to lock in some of its moisture. Grill your turkey similar to chicken and aim for the same internal temperatures.

Get Help Choosing the Right Meat for Your Next Cookout

The good and bad news is that you have a ton of options when it comes to choosing the best meat for your next cookout. If you are still not sure where to start, we can help. Nick’s of Calvert offers a full-service meat counter and our store takes pride in delivering superior customer service. We are also known for providing some of the freshest meats in the area at the most affordable prices. Visit us today in Prince Frederick or call us at (410) 414-7105.