Grilling and BBQing seems pretty easy, right? Buy some quality meat, start a fire and cook the meat over said fire until it’s done, but not too done. That may be true, but there are still some pretty critical laws that pros abide by. Stick to the following five and your offerings will be sure to delight even the most discerning of taste buds.
1. Wait until your coals are ready.
You light your coals and you get big flames. Cool? Not really. That would be perfect if you were filming a grilling commercial, but you’re not. When you want to get the best results from the grill, allow your coals to flame out and turn white. Those white-hot coals are exactly what you need to be a master griller. They’ll provide the perfect, even temperature to sear your burgers and steaks without charring them into something unrecognizable like a huge flame would. Keep in mind that your coals should stay hot for about an hour after they’ve turned white, giving you plenty of time to cook.
2. Always brush your grates and wipe them with oil.
You want those gorgeous grill marks you see in the picture of the recipe, right? All you need to do is buy a cheap grill brush and keep your grill clean. If you don’t, there will be a buildup of leftover gunk coating your grates that prevent them from searing your meat and vegetables (and that gunk isn’t exactly good for you, either). Once you’ve made sure the grates are scraped clean, wipe them with a bit of vegetable oil. This will lubricate them, giving you more pronounced grill marks and ensuring your food won’t stick to the grill. The safest way to do it is to dab a paper towel with a bit of vegetable oil and then use your tongs to go up and down the length of the grates.
3. Season your meat and vegetables. A lot.
Fresh meat and vegetables taste great coming off the grill but they taste even better when you cover them with layers of salty, sweet and spicy flavors. At the very least, take the time to season your meat and vegetables with salt, pepper and oil, and experiment with fresh herbs and other spices as you become more confident in your cooking. Or just use a good barbecue rub—think Kingsford’s BBQ Sauce Mix & Dry Rub—so you don’t have to think about it. If you have the time to let seasoned meat or veggies sit in the fridge overnight you’ll get even more pronounced flavor, but even if you can’t, an application of seasoning right before the meat goes on will do wonders for the finished product.
4. Stay close while your dinner is cooking.
Even the most experienced grill master can’t abandon the grill. Once you get things going—even if you’re confident in your skills—never forget you’re still cooking with a live fire. If a grease fire breaks out, it will burn your meat, and if the fire goes out the meat won’t cook. Simple adjustments of airflow can fix most grill problems, but if you aren’t nearby, you can’t make the necessary tweaks. So grab a lawn chair and an ice-cold beer and hang out by the grill until everything is finished.
5. Let meat rest when it comes off the grill!
Patience is one of the biggest keys to successful grilling. Even though your meat might look perfect when it comes off the grill, you have to let it rest. If you cut into it right away, all the juices will come rushing out onto your cutting board. By letting the meat rest, you guarantee that all those flavorful juices will stay in the meat. While it sits you can cover it with a tent of tin foil. Large hunks of meat will actually continue to rise in temperature for a few minutes after they are taken off the grill, so a good rule of thumb is that the larger a piece of meat is, the longer you should let it sit before you cut into it. You’ve put so much time into preparing this feast already. Why not take a few more minutes to ensure it’s world class?