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Ten Tips for Grilling

It’s that time of year to get outside and fire up the grill. Here are ten grilling tips to help make your cookout go as smooth as possible.

1. Be organized. Have everything you need—the food, marinade, basting sauce, seasonings, and equipment—on hand and at grill side before you start grilling.

2. Gauge your fuel. There's nothing worse than running out of charcoal or gas in the middle of grilling. When using charcoal, light enough to form a bed of glowing coals 3 inches larger on all sides than the surface area of the food you're planning to cook. When using a gas grill, start with at least 1/3 of a tank of gas.

3. Direct grilling is a high heat cooking method. Use the "3 second" test to gauge the temperature: Place your hand about six inches above the grate. You should be able to hold it over a properly hot fire for 3 seconds.

4. Keep it clean. There's nothing less appetizing than grilling on dirty, old bits of burnt food stuck to the grate. Get a long-handled, stiff wire brush and use it to clean the grate. Brush after you've preheated the grill, but before the food goes on. Brush again, when you've finished grilling.

5. Keep it lubricated. Always oil the grate before placing the food on it. Dip a folded paper towel in oil, grab it with tongs, and rub it over the bars of the grate. Or grease the grate with a piece of bacon. (The flavor is great; the amount of fat negligible.) A well-greased grate keeps food from sticking and gives you handsome grill marks.

6. Turn, don't stab. The proper way to turn meats on a grill is with tongs or a spatula. Never stab the meat with a carving fork—unless you want to drain the flavor-rich juices onto the coals.

7. Know when to baste. Oil- and vinegar-, citrus-, soy-, or yogurt-based bastes and marinades can be brushed on the meat throughout the cooking. (But not the last 5 minutes.) Brush on sweet barbecue sauces at the very end, so the sugar won't burn.

8. Keep it covered. When cooking larger cuts of meat, such as a whole chicken, leg of lamb, or prime rib, use the indirect grilling method. Keep the grill covered and resist the temptation to peek.

9. Give it a rest. Beef, steak, chicken—almost anything you grill—will taste better and be juicier if you let it stand on the cutting board for a few minutes before serving.

10. Never desert your post. Grilling is an easy cooking method, but it demands constant attention. Once you put something on the grill (especially when using the direct method), stay with it until it's cooked. Most of all, have fun.

Remember that grilling isn't brain surgery. And that's the gospel!


This information is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of your physician. If you have any medical concerns or issues, contact your physician.