This is a step-by-step guide that covers how to successfully plan and execute a grill out. This guide will focus on cooking burgers for the grill out, as well as the planning and preparation necessary for the task.
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Step 1: Check Weather/plan the Gathering
Weather can play a vital role in whether or not your grill out is successful. If it rains, it may ruin your grill out unless you planned accordingly. This is why you check the weather one week in advance of the grill out date. This allows for proper planning of the location. For example allowing overhead cover if it is raining. The date should be checked again three days in advance of the grill out. One last final check the day before the grill out is the final part. These checks allow time to cancel in advance if there is severe weather.
Step 2: Invite Friends
In order to have a successful gathering, you need people there to make it happen. This involves inviting friends, family members, and associates. There is no limit to the number of people you can invite besides the venue and the amount of ingredients you bring. The best way to contact people is en masse. This would be using group messages, email lists, and other groups on social media. Tell them about your grill out (time and place) and inform them of any ingredients or side dishes you might need in the next step.
Step 3: Decide What Supplies Are Needed - Gather/purchase
Planning out the required supplies ahead of time is an important step when planning a successful cookout. Make a list of everything necessary for your cookout. Take into consideration how many people you are trying to feed and whether they are bringing their own beverages, dishes, etc. Also, inspect the grill you will be using and determine what is needed to start the grill. After constructing your list, spend some time gathering the items you already have. A trip to the store may be required to get all the items on your list. A typical list will resemble the following:
- Grilling supplies
- Gas or charcoal (if necessary)
- Cleaning brush (if necessary)
- Lighter (if necessary)
- Paper Plates
- Any other favorite condiment
Step 4: Prepare and Start the Grill
Before starting the grill, it should be inspected and cleaned. Use a grill brush to remove ash and debris from the metal cooking grates if necessary. Once the grill is sufficiently clean, we are ready to start the grill. It is important to start the grill before you are ready to cook; this allows the grill to become hot enough to cook the meat. The steps required to start the grill will vary depending what kind of grill you have and how modern it is.
Use caution when handling lighter fluid, a lighter, or any flammable items near the grill.
If it is a charcoal grill, follow the instructions included on the bag of charcoal for starting a grill. This will include adding charcoal to the grill, lighting the charcoal with a lighter or match, using lighter fluid if necessary, and allowing the grill to reach cooking temperature.
If it is a gas grill, follow the instructions on the grill itself for startup procedure. These will include ensuring the propane tank is open, turning on a burner, and using the built-in igniter to start the grill. In our example, we used an electric-start gas grill.
Step 5: Allow the Grill to Heat Up
Once the grill is started, allow it to warm up for at least 10-15 minutes before cooking (or until it reaches 400+ degrees). A propane grill will reach optimal cooking temperature quicker than a charcoal grill, so 10 minutes or less may suffice.
You can use this time to prepare the other items in the next step.
Step 6: Lay Out Meats and Items Necessary to Grill
While the grill is heating up, gather all necessary tools and food items near the grill before beginning to cook. The most important items to keep handy are a spatula, a plate for cooked burgers, and the burger patties.
Step 7: Prepare the Burgers
Make sure to open the burger packaging in preparation for putting them on the grill. If you purchased premade burgers, make sure they are thawed and ready to be cooked.
If you are creating your own burgers from ground hamburger meat, remember to create patties of about one-inch thickness or less. This will allow the burgers to cook in the time approximated.
Step 8: Put the Burgers on the Grill
Now that the grill is hot and ready to use, place the burgers onto the grill.
Take extra caution not to burn yourself. Do not touch the grill grates when adding burgers to the grill.
You especially want to be careful when flipping the burgers for the first time. There is usually a little pool of grease on top of the burger which can light on fire after flipping the burger.
You will want to evenly space out the burgers as much as you can. If you put too many burgers on the grill, it will likely take longer to cook and you run the risk of dropping a burger or breaking it apart. At a minimum, leave about 3-4 inches in between each burger.
Step 9: Watch for Charring of the Meat and Flip When They Are Ready
The side of the burger touching the grill should have a nice brownish appearance. The top side will stay mostly pink, and blood may begin to settle to the top as the patty shrinks.
The patties should cook for approximately 5 minutes on this side. This time will vary depending on burger thickness and grill temperature.
Step 10: Repeat, Watching for the Charring of the Meat
Now that you are grilling the other side of the burger, you will watch as the burger becomes brownish in color, again watching to make sure it's not pink nor black. The patty itself should have shrunk significantly at this point.
This side will also take approximately 5 minutes, or slightly less since the burger is already halfway cooked.
Step 11: Cut Into One of the Burgers and Check for Pinkness
You can continue to grill the burger for as long as you want it done for (ie: rare, medium, or well done). The pinkness of the burger you cut into indicates the readiness of the other burgers placed on the grill at the same time. This would also be the time you should add cheese to the burger to melt a bit.
Step 12: When Ready, Take Off Grill and Put Onto a Serving Dish
Now that the burgers are fully cooked, place them onto a serving dish. A paper or glass plate would suffice. If you regularly host grill outs, then it would be a good idea to buy a dish specifically for serving. There are serving dishes that are not only bigger than a regular plate, but also can add to the appearance and aesthetic of your grill out. After placing the cooked food onto a serving dish, the host is now able to quickly throw more items onto the hot grill if there is more food to cook or more mouths to feed.
Step 13: Lay Out Buns, Cheese, and Condiments.
Now that the cooked food is on a serving dish, it is time to place the buns, cheese, and other condiments and sides onto the table. For the occasion of having a grill-out, it is best to place the cooked food and other condiments and sides orderly onto the table. Doing it this way is easiest for both the host and guest. The guest is able to freely pick what they would like to eat, along with what condiments and sides they may want to eat. The host can continue to focus on grilling food.
Step 14: Let Your Guests Know the Food Is Ready
Now you may notify your guests that the grilling is complete. You can do so by saying any number of things; a common phrase is “Time to eat”. Your guests may prepare their food how they would like with whatever condiments they want. Make sure to socialize with your guests and see if they need anything else for the grill out.