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Grilling - why, why, why?

Drives me absolutely nuts to watch someone stabbing meat to death with a fork to turn over and over and over again on the grill. DO NOT PIERCE THE MEAT! UGH! Put it on the grill, close the lid and let it do its thing. Flip once!

Or, smashing a hamburger to death with a spatula while grilling. Leave the juice in my burger, please!

*whew* Vent over!

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  1. I think it's a guy thing. We don't get a chance to user our spears to stab game anymore, so meat on a grill becomes a substitute. The same goes for administering a coup de grace to game with a blow to the head. We must practice on a hamburger instead. It's a primal thing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: raytamsgv


      My husband is guilty of "working" the grill too hard but I think it is part of his OCD.

    2. You have to show that piece of meat who is the boss, and if that means stabbing it 29 times, so be it.

      1. I'm with you all the way! A few years ago, I brought some steaks to my brothers for a cook out. he threw them on the grill, no seasoning whatsoever. Then, after he turned them over a few times ( yes, with a fork), he took a knife, and sliced through two of the steaks to test it. I still have not gotten over it- and it took all of my will power to not say a thing.

        1. ... have to make sure it's dead.

          1. I know how you feel. I hate overcooked dried out food & its so easy to avoid. Get the CLEAN grill surface good and hot .... oil the surface .... put on the protein .... when it releases flip it with tongs or spatula ..... finger press for desired doneness ..... pull and let rest. So so simple but yet so many people screw it up.

            1. I tend to know what I'm going to be served when there aren't tongs present. I still can't convince my mother to get some proper tongs - arguments ensue every time we try and grill there. Two people stabbing a beautiful piece of grilled leg of lamb or rib roast with 4 long-pronged forks to lift it off the grill while a third holds a pan. Chaos.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Terrie H.

                Kind of sounds like Curley, Larry & Moe.

                1. re: Tom34

                  No, it's Dad, Mom, and me. Names withheld to protect the guilty.

                2. Does 'not piercing' actually make a difference? Just how much more juice runs out when the steak or burger is pierced? Has anyone measured it?

                  The dictum that searing 'seals in the juices' was debunked by weighing meat that was cooked various ways, and noting that searing did nothing to reduce the weight loss. I wonder if the fork v tongs dictum will stand up to similar scrutiny.

                  someone did this test in 2008

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: paulj

                    Agree with paulj 100%. I have grilled steaks over charcoal at home for more than 50 years, and ALWAYS use a fork. I am talking prime dry aged steaks, not something cheap. Now, it generally does not have to be turned but once, but a fork does not hurt it. By the way, if you watch the food channel as I suspect most of you (us) do, take a look at those shows about the top steakhouses in NY and Chicago, and look at the cooks work. They are using forks about the size of a pitchfork.

                    1. re: steakman55

                      I don't know about NY and Chicago, but I worked in a few good steakhouses in Calgary Alberta (cattle country) and never saw a large fork ever.

                      As for the fork thing, if you pierce the meat incessantly and constantly turn it, probably not good for a it. A few pricks with a fork, likely wont make a difference, it's not like the inside of a rare ribeye is going to become dry because you give it a few pricks with a fork when you turn it

                      1. re: Konulu

                        Actually, flipping meat (when grilling it) every minute or so cooks it faster and more evenly.

                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          Not as quickly as searing it and putting in an oven, which in my experience is common for service in some non steakhouses. In steakhouses grillmarks are often prized as a quality mark so constant flipping will ruin the pattern or not allow it to form.

                          When I grill at home I do not flip constantly, prefering to close the lid which allows the steak to cook quickly with minimal effort.

                    2. re: paulj

                      Yes, someone has measured it: Cook's Illustrated. Here's what they had to say:

                      "Virtually all moisture that is lost when meat is cooked is a result of muscle fibers contracting in the heat and squeezing out their juices. Piercing does not damage the fibers enough to cause additional juices to leak out (any more than poking a wet sponge with a fork would expel its moisture).

                      When it comes to the moisture level and tenderness of meat, cooking time and temperature are the most important factors."

                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                        This is true. I don't Paul was really asking a question he does not know. I think Paul was just gently putting forward the counter argument -- unlike some of us who just like to state the obvious.

                    3. Just an FYI - you can get away with smashing a hamburger with a spatula early on in the cooking process without any significant loss of juices. Later on in the cooking process - bad technique. Though I suppose this applies more to burgers cooked in a pan or on a griddle, since smashing a burger on the grill could push the meat through the grill grates.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        <you can get away with smashing a hamburger with a spatula early on in the cooking process without any significant loss of juices>

                        This is true. Many people think that the spatula will squeeze out the blood/juice, which is true for that particular moment, but not true for the entire process. This is because some of this juice will get dip out one way or the other.

                        Similar to the myth that searing the meat will seal the juice inside the meat. Not so much. People have done experiment to prove otherwise.

                        1. Does it gall you when a fork is used to tenderize the steak before it hits the grill? For cheaper cuts, I will occasionally apply a dry rub then work the meat over good with a fork to tenderize and work the spices into the meat. Just depends on what I'm cooking and how I want it to come out.

                          1. Actually, piercing meat with a fork does not cause any measurable additional moisture loss than if it were not pierced.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: 1POINT21GW

                              Agreed with steak but still use long tongs to flip. Different experience with burgers. Have seen thick burgers made from same day fresh ground beef that were pulled off the grill med rare that were stuck with a fork that squirted juice like crazy and was dry when eaten 5 or so minutes later. Identical burger cooked right next to it med rare that was not poked eaten 5 minutes later was explosive with juice when bitten into.