13 Best Grilling Tips
Barbecue like a pro every time with these helpful tips and techniques.
5. Oil it up. Even on a clean grill, lean foods may stick when placed directly on the rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel: hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
6. Safety first. Food safety is a top priority, so keep these simple rules from the USDA in mind: avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils and platters for raw and cooked foods; refrigerate foods while marinating; and never baste with the marinating liquid. (Make extra marinade just for basting or boil your marinating liquid first.)
7. Marinating does more than infuse food with flavor; it also inhibits the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines), which form when grilling "muscle meats" like poultry, red meat and fish. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent.
8. A chimney starter makes starting a charcoal fire a breeze. Just place crumpled paper in the bottom of the chimney, fill it with charcoal and light the paper. In about 20 minutes the coals will be ready to spread evenly in the bottom of the grill—no kindling, no lighter fluid, no perfect pyramid required.
9. Is it done? The best way to know if protein is fully cooked is to check its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
10. Use a grill basket for foods that might fall through the grill rack or are too cumbersome to turn over one by one (vegetables, fish, tofu, fruits, etc.).
11. The hand test. To gauge the temperature of a grill without a thermometer, place your open palm about 5 inches above the grill rack; the fire is high if you have to move your hand in 2 seconds, medium if you have to move your hand in 5 seconds and low if you have to move your hand in 10 seconds.
12. Tame the flames. Flare-ups happen when fat drips onto the heat source and catches fire. This causes carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form and accumulate on your food. Meat licked by flames also tastes "off" and flames may char the outside of food before the inside has thoroughly cooked. To reduce flare-ups, select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin. And, keep a squirt bottle of water near the grill to quickly douse any unexpected flare-ups.
13. Give it a rest. Let finished meats rest on a clean platter, tented with foil, for about 10 minutes before carving so juices can redistribute evenly.