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Ten Commandments of Perfect Grilling
BE ORGANIZED. Have everything you need for grilling - the
food, marinade, basting sauce, seasonings and equipment -
on hand and at grillside 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. (A 22 1/2-inch grill needs one chimney's worth of
coals.) When cooking on a gas grill, make sure the tank is
at least one-third full.
3. PREHEAT THE GRILL TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE. Remember: Grilling
is a high heat cooking method, in order to achieve the seared
crust, charcoal flavor and handsome grill marks associated
with masterpiece grillmanship, you must cook over a high heat.
How high? At least 500 degrees F. Although I detail this elsewhere,
it is worth repeating: When using charcoal, let it burn until
it is covered with a thin coat of gray ash. Hold your hand
about 6 inches above the grate. After 3 seconds, the force
of the heat should force you to snatch your hand away. When
using a gas grill, preheat to high (at least 500 degrees F.);
this takes 10 to 15 minutes. When indirect grilling, preheat
the grill to 350 F degrees.
4. KEEP IT CLEAN. There's nothing less appetizing than grilling
on dirty old burnt bits of food stuck to the grate. Besides,
the food will stick to a dirty grate. Clean the grate twice:
once after you've preheated the grill and again when you've
finished cooking. The first cleaning will remove any bits
of food you may have missed after your last grilling session.
Use the edge of a metal spatula to scrape off large bits of
food, a stiff wire brush to finish scrubbing the grate.
5. KEEP IT LUBRICATED. Oil the grate just before placing the
food on top, if necessary (some foods don't require that the
grates be oiled). Spray it with oil (away from the flame),
use a folded paper towel soaked in oil, or rub it with a piece
of fatty bacon, beef fat or chicken skin.
6. TURN, DON'T STAB. The proper way to turn meat 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
7. KNOW WHEN TO BASTE. Oil-and-vinegar, citrus, and yogurt
based bastes and marinades can be brushed on the meat throughout
the cooking time. (If you baste with a marinade that you used
for raw meat or seafood, do not apply it during the last 3
minutes of cooking.) When using a sugar-based barbecue sauce,
apply it towards the end of the cooking time. The sugar in
these sauces burns easily and should not be exposed to prolonged
8. KEEP IT COVERED. When cooking larger cuts of meat and poultry,
such as a whole chicken, leg of lamb or prime rib, use the
indirect method of grilling or barbecuing. Keep the grill
tightly covered and resist the temptation to peek. Every time
you lift the lid, you add 5 to 10 minutes to the cooking time.
9. GIVE IT A REST. Beef, steak, chicken - almost anything
you grill - will taste better if you let it stand on the cutting
board for a few minutes before serving. This allows the meat
juices, which have been driven to the center of a roast or
steak by the searing heat, to return to the surface. The result
is a juicier, tastier piece of meat.
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. This is not the time to answer
the phone, make the salad dressing or mix up a batch of your
Above all, have fun. Remember that grilling isn't brain surgery.
And that's the gospel!