7 Secrets to Master the Grill


Keith Sims

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After 11 incredibly physically demanding years in the trenches of NFL, Keith Sims was ready for a change of pace. Little did he know his wife, Tia, had been plotting for years for this very moment. Tia had long ago decided the best way for their family to travel with their three little boys was by RV. She had been dragging Keith to RV shows for years. Tia put forth such a powerful case for the family to try Rving that Keith had no choice but to agree. Now the whole family is hooked! The Sims family home base is in the Atlanta area, but they typically spend over 100 days/nights each year touring this country. Tia uses the travel to enhance the boy’s homeschool education. The whole family loves the space and flexibility that RV travels gives the family. The Sims family are very active with the RV influencer community. They are a spokes-family for GoRving , having starred in TV, online ads, and print ads in various magazines including Oprah’s “O.” They recently began working with Camping World as well as many other companies within the RV media industry. They focus on promoting family and minority RVing. You can follow their adventures at their blog Soulful RV Family.

Summer is just around the corner and so is swimming, traveling, and barbecuing! It’s the perfect time to grill and picnic. Who doesn’t love some good BBQ?

The debate about who cooks the best BBQ is very personal. It doesn’t matter if you are a Kansas City BBQ fan or if you think Texas BBQ is the best, basic barbecue skills can help any backyard and campground chef become a grill master.

Yes, anyone can throw some burgers on a grill, but that doesn’t make you a master of the grill. So, are you ready to take your BBQ game to the next level? These seven tips will help you become a true campground grill master.

keith sims at the grill
Author Keith Sims at the grill.

Learn Your Grill

This may sound like a strange tip, but it’s not as simple as you might think. Even though a grill comes from a certain manufacturer, like Weber or  Blackstone, each individual grill will have characteristics that are unique to that particular grill.  For example, your grill might have different hot spots than you’re used to. Your grill may be similar to other Blackstones, but your unique grill will have slight temperature differences between individual parts of the grill. That’s why getting to know the ins-and-outs of your grill is the first step in becoming a true grill master.

Don’t have a grill yet? Browse these portable grills perfect for RVers.

Keith Sims Prepping Grill
Prep your grill and always use a grill mit or glove. Feel and test areas for hot spots.

Plan Out Your BBQ

Being spontaneous can be a great way to live life. But, not so much when it comes to making great BBQ. Oftentimes, “throwing something on the grill” doesn’t let you put your best grill fork forward. Now, everyone has thrown hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill with little effort or planning. That can happen, and in a pinch make a nice lunch or dinner. But, good BBQ takes time and planning.

grilled burgers and chicken
Anyone can throw burgers on the grill, but prepping your meat will ensure a tastier meal.

Something as simple as cooking room temperature meats can help ensure you don’t accidentally overcook it, and that requires setting your meat out of the fridge in preparation. Or plan ahead to allow the seasoning to seep into the depths of the meat over time. Have you ever bit into a piece of chicken and all the seasonings and flavor were on the skin and the interior of the meat had no taste? That’s not the work of a grill master, so take some time and plan out what you’re grilling. Everyone will thank you.

Possess “Must-Have” Grill Tools

There are different tools that  you will need in order to maximize your ability as a Grill Master. A meat thermometer is a must-have. This allows you to test the internal temperature of the meat you’re cooking to ensure food safety. You only have to burn yourself once to know how important a grill mitt can be.

meat thermometer for grilling
A meat thermometer is a Grill Master’s best friend.

It is very important to know the safe cooking temperatures for various types of food. Chicken, for example, you want to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. There are different internal temperatures based on whether you’re cooking your meat rare, medium-rare, done or well-done. A good temperature gun can save the day as you’re trying to set multiple temperature zones on your grill or griddle.

Pre-Season and Marinate the Meat

This is probably one of the easiest steps that you can play around with as you learn to master your own taste buds. The market is flooded with different marinades and seasonings, so  you don’t necessarily have to create your own. But if you’re adventurous, try different combinations by mixing the sweet and savory. Lemon juice is great to help break down tough meat. Pineapple juice tenderizes pork. Foil packets lock in moisture and flavor in fish, like in this recipe for Salmon and Asparagus.

pre-season meat for flavorful grilling
Marinate your meat for maximum flavor.

Early on, I experimented with marinating chicken thighs in Italian dressing overnight, and I got to tell you that was some of the juiciest and tasteful chicken thighs ever made! That recipe was just a simple experiment that I still use to this day. When I want my chicken to have that extra flare, I will season it and let that seasoning sit overnight in the fridge. The flavor really penetrates into every layer of the meat. Just know there’s no right or wrong seasoning or marinade, it’s whatever your palate desires.

Have some fun with your seasoning in marinades, but just remember not to make it too hot and spicy because it can actually take away from the flavor of the meat.

herbs rubs and marinades on grill
The best way to find your favorite flavor is to start experimenting.

Go for Quality Over Quantity

Try not  to skimp on the quality of the meat over the quantity you can purchase. Due to budget, this is an area where many people try to cut corners. There are certainly ways to enhance cheaper cuts of meat with marinades and seasonings, which can be key for larger families on tight budgets.

organic grass fed ground beef
You can really taste the difference in good quality, organic meats.

We have made the choice for our family to eat as healthy as we can afford, opting for organic meats and eggs with no antibiotics or GMO’s. Once we made this change, we could literally taste the difference. Have you ever gone to a cheap steakhouse and they serve you a huge steak? It looks appealing to your eyes,  but it’s not as satisfying as you expected.

The high-end steakhouse serves a smaller cut of high quality beef at a high price point.  There’s a reason why it  costs a lot more, and if you can pay those prices you’ll enjoy it more, trust me.

Keith Sims holding organic ground beef
If you can afford it, don’t scrimp on cheap meat. Go organic and grass fed when possible.

In Case of Emergency “Google it”

Hasn’t the internet changed everything? If you are struggling with something BBQ related, you can simply google it. Most of the results will point you towards BBQ blogs, BBQ pros or BBQ manufacturers websites. Once there, you can learn everything from basic BBQ tips to expert tricks. A  great resource is barbecue grill manufacturing websites, like Weber or Blackstone. They often have tutorials on cleaning, cooking,  seasoning, and regular maintenance of your grill. Also, they have tons of recipes specifically geared toward your type of grill.

keith sims grilling at rv
Griddles are great for getting sear and sautéing onions.

I’ve enjoyed watching BBQ shows on cable and Youtube. Those have inspired me to take my grilling to another level. Don’t forget to check out some barbecue cookbooks or blog posts like this. I’ve even seen BBQ classes and BBQ boot camps.  With so many places to get information, teaching and training, anyone can raise their grill game.

Practice, Grill, and Repeat

Have you heard that it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill? Thank goodness it doesn’t take that long to become a competent griller. Whether you’re trying to learn how to cook the perfect steak or grilling vegetables, you’re going to make some mistakes. Learn and grow from those mistakes. Bonus, you get to eat all of the mishaps along the way!

I’ll leave you with these final thoughts…You’re not going to become a barbecue grill master overnight. It takes time, but you got this! Maybe enter a local BBQ contest to test your newly upgraded skill. Soon enough, you might be invited to compete in a cooking/grilling competition, like Camping World’s Great American Cook-off.

great American cook off apron on chair
Tune in to watch Camping World’s Great American Cook Off.

Most importantly, keep learning, keep trying to get better, and most of all keep grilling!

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