In the summertime, backyard barbecues are about as American as apple pie. Just as American, however, is the time-honored tradition of the alpha male wielding a set of tongs and manning the grill station. For better or worse, it seems to be a culturally accepted fact that the grill is a designated “male-only” domain. If you need proof, merely flip through any Father’s Day gift guide, and you’re bound to see image after image of paternal types milling around a backyard grill, sipping beers, poking and prodding at steaks with myriad grilling gizmos.
“Grilling is the ultimate way to entertain with no fuss,” concurs Curtis Stone, celebrity chef and co-host of Top Chef Masters on Bravo. “It’s no wonder why guys like being king of the grill—it’s easy, you can enjoy a beer at the same time and it requires minimal effort. Best of all, you can take all of the glory.”
The question remains: Why are women seemingly so grill-phobic, while men get so fired up to dominate the gridiron? Traditionally, men might have been more eager to play with fire, says Elizabeth Karmel, founder of Girls At the Grill, a website offering a variety of tips and resources aimed at encouraging women to saddle up to the grill. “Back in the day, when most people used charcoal grills, it was the fire-building aspect more so than the actual grilling that women found daunting.”
But these days, most people use gas grills. “Now, it’s as easy as flipping a switch,” says Elizabeth.
So Elizabeth guesses that women are simply disinterested in taking over the grilling duties—either because they don’t know what they’re doing, or because they are relieved to have their guy taking over the cooking reins for once. “I think it’s less an issue of gender and more an issue of interest,” Elizabeth adds. “I always say that grilling is 90 percent the will to grill and 10 percent skill.”
Ladies, it’s time to overcome your fear of the grill: Not only is grilling one of the healthiest cooking methods around, but it’s also surprisingly simple and a lot of fun. Transform yourself into a formidable grill mistress with these 10 expert grilling tips courtesy of the Queen of the Grill herself, Elizabeth Karmel:
- Know the difference between the direct and indirect grilling methods and when to use them (For an in-depth explanation, click here).
- Always preheat your gas grill with all burners on high or wait until charcoal briquettes are covered with a gray ash
- Oil the food, not the grates!
- Cook with the lid down—it reduces the cooking time.
- Never cook on a grill that is hotter than 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean the grill grates with a brass bristle brush both before and after you cook.
- Place food “across” the cooking grates so thin items don’t fall through the grates and you get maximum grill marks.
- Flip only once halfway through the cooking time.
- Brush with BBQ sauce only during the final 10-15 minutes of the cooking time.
- Always let your food rest before cutting into it.