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10 Essential Tips to Take Your Grilling to the Next Level This Summer

Photo credit: Photo copyright © Greg Schneider.

OK, you’ve tuned up your grill. You’ve sourced your grass-fed beef or heritage pork shoulder. You’re chilling the Veuve Cliquot or your favorite local micro-brew. You’ve donned your “Danger: Men Cooking” apron. (Just kidding — you’re way to cool to wear a silly apron.) Here are 10 essential tips for taking your grilling to the next level.

Make sure you have enough fuel. An extra propane canister if you use a gas grill. An extra bag of natural lump charcoal if you grill over charcoal. There’s nothing worse than running out of fuel half way through that pulled pork shoulder.

OK, there’s one thing worse: confusing grilled with burnt. Grilled is dark brown and tastes delicious. Burnt is jet-black and tastes, well, burnt.

Understand the difference between direct and indirect grilling. With direct grilling, you cook the food directly over a hot fire. Use it for small or thin, tender, quick-cooking foods like steaks, chops, satés, kebabs, fish fillets, veggies, etc.

In indirect grilling, you cook the food next to the heat source — not directly over the fire — with the grill lid closed. Use indirect grilling for large, tough, or fatty foods, like whole chickens and turkeys, pork shoulders, prime rib, pork ribs, brisket, and dense vegetables like potatoes or whole onions.

For extra flavor and that authentic barbecue taste, toss wood chips on the coals (or place in your grill’s smoker box). Use hardwood chips, like hickory or oak and soak them first in water for 30 minutes and drain before using—this makes them smolder—not catch fire.

When direct grilling, follow the grill master’s mantra: Keep it hot. Keep it clean. Keep it lubricated. Start with a hot grill. Clean the grate with a stiff wire brush. And oil it with a tightly folded paper towel dipped in oil and drawn across the bars of the grate at the end of tongs.

Don’t overcrowd your grill. Leave at least 30 percent food-free. That way, when you get flare-ups—and you will get flare-ups—you have somewhere to move the food to dodge the flames.

Turn, don’t stab. Use tongs, not a barbecue fork, to turn steaks, chips, and other meats. You don’t want to puncture the meat. And never press burgers with your spatula—unless you want to squeeze out the juices onto the fire.

Give it a rest. Steaks, chops, chicken and burgers will be juicier if you let them rest a minute or two before serving. (Resting relaxes the meat.)

Remember, there’s no such think as a mistake in the kitchen — or at the grill — just a new recipe waiting to be discovered. (How do you think I invented the caveman T-bone?!)


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