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Grilling With Kids: Teaching The Basics

Grilling with kids and teaching them the basics helps to take any fear they have of the grill away and set them on a path to a life fill with delicious meals.

This dish was created for SABER Grills by Colleen Kennedy of Souffle Bombay. Bon appétit!

My children are often by my side when I am cooking or baking. From desserts to party food to everyday dinners.

Sometimes, I even put my feet up as they take charge! Imagine that.

In December, I began to teach my 13-year-old son the basics of grilling. That boy LOVES meat pulled hot off a grill, so I figured it was time to teach him how to respect the grill, and begin to successfully cook on it.

Up until now, he’s been helping prep what goes onto it, placing the foods on the grill, and pulling them off the grill. We have worked on the mechanics of the grill and grill safety (this is important!). Now we are moving on to him understanding HOW meats are cooked.

So we started with 3 meats every kid should know how to grill. In my opinion, it’s burgers, chicken, and steak. All three are super easy to prepare and definite crowd-pleasers!

The burgers are easy, after all so many kids are familiar with ground meat and making meatballs right? Showing them just how simple it is to make and grill a burger is even easier.

Start with fresh ground beef and seasoning. All you really need to know is that the fresher and better quality the meat is, and the less you work the meat…the better the burger will be. From there, all you need are your toppings and a beautiful roll.  When it comes to cook time, everyone has an opinion and a preference. We buy fresh ground farmer’s market meat, ground right in front of our eyes, so we can enjoy our burgers the way we want to (which is medium).

What I taught my son: Heat your gas grill to high heat (we have a SABER SS 670 Infrared Grill). Brush your burgers with a bit of olive or grapeseed oil and season well (salt and pepper are the staples). Grill burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 6 minutes for medium or longer until cooked to desired degree of doneness. If topping with cheese, do so with a minute to go. Perfecto!

My daughter was getting in on the prep work of the burgers and decided to make a heart-shaped one. We humored her. Hey, when a kid wants to feed their daddy a hand-made heart-shaped burger…who is going to refuse? 

The Perfect Burger

Next up for my son was grilling chicken.  We started with boneless chicken first, since it really is so easy to work with, after that we will move to bone-in. For now, I am teaching him that all you need to do to grill a piece of chicken is to make sure you season it well and don’t overcook it. We can get into fancier dishes later.

Boy Grilling Chicken

What I taught my son: For a delicious grilled boneless chicken breast, start with a clean and oiled grate, then heat your grill to medium-high heat. Make sure you brushed your chicken with a bit of oil and seasoned it well (this is the key to anything). Place chicken breasts over the direct heat and grill about 3 minutes per side. The size of the chicken breasts dictate cooking time. I gave my son this tip: Pound the chicken breasts a bit so the thickness is somewhat even to assure a more even cooking. Remove smaller breasts once done and continue cooking larger ones. It’s better to under-cook just a bit than overcook, since the meat will continue cooking once its pulled from the grill. If necessary, it can always be thrown back on…better than trying to eat a dry piece of meat.

Last but certainly not least was his favorite…steak. My son adores steak! He could probably eat a piece of filet mignon or strip steak every day of his life!

I taught him this simple trick to know how well done the meat is. It’s called the Touch Test.  (I wish someone had taught it to me when I was a kid…sorry dad!)

By simply touching the meaty part of the palm of your relaxed hand with your index finger, you can see what it feels like to push down on raw meat. The same give and “spring” applies here.

Next, touch your index finger to your thumb, like an “ok” sign. What you feel now is medium-rare.

Now touch your middle finger to your thumb, that’s feeling less bouncy, right? That’s medium…just the way my son likes it best.

Now move onto your ring finger and thumb, that’s what medium-well feels like.

Last, but not least (or uh-oh…you burned the steak), is your pinky and thumb and that my friends is well-done.

How to GrillA Perfect Steak

Pretty cool, huh?

I taught my son that cooking a perfect steak starts with a great piece of meat that you allow to sit out on the counter to come to almost-room temperature for about 20 minutes, then perfectly season. Then, all you need is a hot grill and a possible dab of butter and in about 10 minutes, you will have the steak of your dreams!

Simply place your steaks on the grill and cook until golden brown and slightly charred (about 4 to 5 minutes). Turn your steaks over and continue to grill for an additional 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare (internal temp of 135°F), 5 to 7 minutes for medium (140°F), or 8 to 10 minutes for medium-well (150°F). Thickness of the steak will vary cooking time.

Our favorite way to prepare steaks or a whole filet for the grill is to make a fresh garlic oil by combining 4 minced garlic cloves with 1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil and then generously season with Kosher salt and pepper. Allow to sit for at least 2 hours before using. Delicious!

My husband loves a Cajun steak. For that we brush his steak (his favorite cut is a thick bone-in rib-eye) with a bit of oil and dry rub it with Cajun seasoning before placing on the grill. After flipping, we put a pat of butter to melt over-top!

After your steaks are done on the grill, transfer them to a cutting board or platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Teaching your kids the basics of grilling will take any fear they have of the grill away and start them on the path of a life filled with delicious grilled meals that they can competently (and hopefully passionately) prepare themselves! 

So , what are you waiting for? Go and grab your kids! They’ve got some grilling to do!

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