Backyard Cookout Prep Tips: How To Mise en Place for Grilling Success
Words Amalia Safran
You’ve heard us sing our praises for mise en place – putting in the work in upfront makes the cooking process smoother and the end results better.
Mise for Salting
When grilling steaks, there are a few points in the process where you’ll need to do upfront prep. The first is salting. For the most flavorful, tender outcome, salt your steaks ahead of time. Lay the cuts of meat on a rack inside a baking sheet (this will promote air flow). Give it a heavy salting and place in the fridge. This can be done a day or two ahead.
Mise for Marinades
Making marinades is the next part of the process you’ll want to prep – around 1 hour before firing up the grill. Meat can marinate for longer, but it is mostly a surface treatment and ingredients won’t penetrate that much more over time. For deeper flavor, use a flavor injector which helps to marinade from the inside out.
For skirt and flank steaks and chicken breasts: we like to do some combination of garlic/shallots, fresh herbs, soy, lemon, olive oil or mustard. Prep all the ingredients first—mince the garlic, chop the herbs and measure out the liquids. Then, place all prepped ingredients in a bowl or dressing mixer. Give it a whisk or twist. Add your meat to a container and pour half the marinade on top, saving the other half to top off the meat while it’s cooking. Let the meat marinate up until it’s time to grill.
Mise the Grill Tools
When grilling, time is of the essence. Between the grill getting too hot and food catching on fire, there isn’t much room to run inside to grab the thermometer. Before heading out, take a second to collect everything you’ll need. Lay out tongs (maybe even two pairs to avoid cross-contaminating cooked meat with raw meat), a spatula, thermometer, basting brush and bowl or squeeze bottle of the sauces you’ll add mid-grill. Keep them all right next to you as you grill. Oh, and we wouldn’t be opposed to keeping a frosty beverage nearby either. Plus, check out our temperature guide for grilling every type of meat perfectly.
Get the Sides in Order
When the grill is hot and your meat is cooking, there’s no time to shuck corn or skewer vegetables, so make sure to do this before you get outside. Take the extra step to brush everything with oil and throw some seasoning on before heading out. Want to try a new kind of side? Try these delicious ideas for grilling fruit. Plus, get more great summer side dish ideas.
Mise to Eat Right Away
We like to also prep clean plates, bowls, serving utensils, trays and condiments ahead of time too, because we all know eating a burger hot off the grill tastes that much better.
Good tip: If you have a few condiment jars to bring outside (ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish, etc.), use a turntable to carry it all out in one trip.