Women can do anything that men can do, and more. Yet, for many women, there is one particularly masculine activity that remains more than a little daunting: grilling.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any fantastic female grillers. In fact, there are dozens of extremely talented and highly regarded women known for their mastery of the grill. Still, many average Janes who are accustomed to making food with the oven or on an electric cooktop can be somewhat frightened by the grill’s open flame, its combustible materials, its high heat, and its sometimes-excessive mess.
There are advantages to grilling that some women can’t ignore. Grilled food has a certain richness of flavor that is impossible to achieve with other cooking methods, and cooking outside on a grill can be fun during warmer months, either because one doesn’t want to heat the house or because one needs to feed an outdoor crowd. Therefore, most women benefit mightily by becoming comfortable at the grill.
To that end, here’s a basic how-to guide for ladies who might need a little extra hand-holding to get their grilling skills off the ground.
Buy the Right Grill
Because grilling is such a popular pastime, there is an overwhelming degree of variety when it comes to types of grills. There are charcoal grills, propane gas grills, wood pellet grills, electric grills, and combo grills; there are Kamado grills, portable grills, built-in grills, and fireplace grill inserts. Each type of grill offers certain advantages and disadvantages that a grilling newbie might struggle to understand.
In most cases, the best grill for a woman who is new to grilling (and slightly frightened by the prospect) is a gas grill. Gas grills are the easiest to use by a wide margin; they ignite and heat up quickly without any fussing with amounts of briquettes or wood chips. They allow for greater precision in temperature control, so it is easier to determine when food is cooked through. Finally, gas grills tend to be on the more affordable side, and their installation and maintenance are relatively straightforward.
Get the Right Accessories
Any endeavor is made easier (and safer) when the proper tools are available. In addition to their grill, women getting into grilling need a few essential accessories for placing and manipulating food, cleaning, and ensuring safety. These accessories include:
Long tongs. Tongs give grillers a similar level of dexterity as fingers, and tongs that are 16 inches long (or longer) will keep skin well away from the heat.
Insta-read thermometer. Thermometers help novice grillers double-check that food is cooked fully, and instead-read thermometers speed up this process to prevent food from cooling down unnecessarily.
Grill brush. Grills need to be scraped clean of the cooked-on food between every use. A good grill brush has a large, sturdy head and a long handle to make quick work of this chore.
Grill cover. Dirt and debris can negatively impact grill performance — and increase the amount of work required to keep the grill clean. A cover will keep the worst of the outdoor elements out.
Fire extinguisher. Accidents happen, and grillers need to have the right tools on hand to put out any unintended flames.
Prepare the Grill Properly
It is important to install a grill in an area far from a main structure, like a home or casita, so if a fire does occur, it is unlikely to spread and cause massive damage before it can be extinguished. Even so, most grillers like to have some kind of work surface near their grill, where they might be able to keep food and tools that are not actively on the heat.
Cooking on the Grill
While other grills have more intensive ignition processes, gas grills are simple: Turn the knobs to allow the propane to flow and press the ignitor button to create a flame. The ignitor will make a clicking noise, and once the gas catches fire, there will be a whooshing sound. Then, the griller can adjust the knobs, which control the flow of gas, to achieve the right amount of heat.
From there, cooking on a gas grill is about the same as cooking on a gas stove or even an electric cooktop. Food is placed on the heat and left until it is appropriately cooked.
Keeping the Grill in Good Condition
Once the food is ready and there is no longer any need for the grill, a griller’s job is far from over. To start, the grill should be turned to high heat, and the lid placed down for about 15 minutes, forcing any leftover food or sauce to burn to a crisp. Then, all the knobs on the grill should be turned off and the grill allowed to cool down completely. Once cool, the grates should be scrubbed with a brush and seasoned, if necessary. As a last step, grillers should pull a cover over their grill.
An important component of getting over fear is exposing oneself to that fear over and over again. The more a woman uses the grill, the less afraid of it she will be — and she might just discover a delightful new hobby, to boot.