Ten Summer Grilling Tips

There is nothing that says summer like the smell of meat on the grill! Whether you use charcoal or gas, grill burgers or smoke pork shoulders, or are a complete grilling newbie, here’s ten tips to help you get the most out of your summer grilling.

  1. Always clean your grill: The old adage that a grill encrusted with old, burnt, meat “adds flavor” is not true at all. A hot grill is easiest to clean, so give it at least ten minutes of heat before scrubbing it down with a grill brush to get the big stuff off, then use tongs to clean it with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil to get it ready for cooking.
  2. Keep the heat in: Grills are designed to cook with the covers on. Flare ups and temperature are much easier to control if you use that cover. You don’t want to char your meat in flames, you want the heat to rise and cook your meat to the perfect temperature. Speaking of temperature…
  3. Use a thermometer: The only way to be sure your meat is ready is to use a thermometer. With experience, you can learn to judge doneness by touch, but this takes quite a while and you will have some stumbles along the way. Most grills today have built-in thermometers, but if not, add a separate meat thermometer to your grill kit.
  4. For charcoal grills, use lumpwood and a chimney starter: Lumpwood burns cleaner, adds no foreign chemicals to your meat, and provides a hotter flame. It’s slightly harder to control, but produces great results once you get used to it. A chimney starter eliminates the need for lighter fluid or “quick-light” charcoal – just add paper underneath and watch those coals get burning hot!
  5. Temper meat before grilling: Try not to put cold meat directly on the grill, but instead let it sit out for 30 minutes to come closer to room temperature, which will ensure a more even cook. The one exception is if you’re looking for a truly rare steak or tuna, then keep it cold until you slap it on the grill to sear the outside.
  6. Add some smoke: There is nothing like adding a nice smoky taste to your meat. Oak, hickory, and mesquite are some of the most common. Personally I like to use smoke when cooking some beautiful center cut pork chops and baked potatoes.
  7. Don’t move squeeze or flatten: You really should touch the meat as little as possible. Don’t move it around the grill, or push it hard against the grill to ensure it’s cooked. Squeezing or flattening meat releasing some of the juice, which then dries it out. Speaking of drying out…
  8. Consider brining, marinating, and glazes: Brining is a terrific way to prepare pork in particular but can be good for poultry as well. Marinades and glazes are great for all kinds of meat, just find the ones you like and tweak them until they become your go to masterpieces. Weber’s cider-simmered brats recipe is one of my favorites – try it with these gorgeous German-style bratwurst from Deli Direct!
  9. Find some recipes you love: Treat grilling like regular cooking and learn some great recipes. My two favorite sources are Weber, both their website (also with lots of great video tips on grilling techniques) and their book Way to Grill , the BBQ Pit Boys online videos.
  10. Don’t overcook pork!: Pork is literally my favorite meat to grill, but it is devastating when someone overcooks it. Stop when the inside is pink, then let it sit for five minutes. That’s more than enough to ensure it’s safe to eat and still be delicious!

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