summer bbq grilling tips photo courtesy of vincent keiman for unsplash

7 grilling tips for your backyard BBQs

Light a chimney starter
If you’re using a charcoal grill, using a chimney starter is the easiest and safest way to grill your food, as it doesn’t use lighter fluid, which can be dangerous and add an unwanted taste. Simply fill the chimney with charcoal and light it over a few sheets of crumpled paper over the bottom grill grate. After 15 to 20 minutes, pour the coals over the grate, place another, oiled grate on top and you’re ready to get grilling.

Keep a lid on it
Keep the lid of your grill down as long as necessary. While it’s tempting to keep checking your food, opening the grill lets the heat escape, which could lead to dry meats and delayed cooking times.

Prep is key!
When you cook in your kitchen, you can start and stop at any point. But on the grill, once your coals get going, there’s no slowing them down. Ensure you can focus on the task at hand by prepping all your components before you light the coals.

Pump up the flavor
When it comes to grilling, there are several ways to add extra flavor to your food. The quickest way is with glazes, which are syrupy coatings often made with honey, maple syrup or molasses that are brushed on during the last few minutes of grilling. Similarly, wet and dry rubs require little preparation time. Apply these blends of herbs and spices (wet rubs incorporate moist ingredients, such as oil, mustard, and yogurt) up to a few hours before cooking to create a savory crust. To deeply infuse foods with more flavor — and tenderize them, too — immerse them in marinades that are made with acidic liquids such as lemon juice, vinegar, and wine. Just limit the time you marinate seafood to 15 -20 minutes, as the acid will “cook” the seafood and make it tough.

Where there’s smoke …
Whether you grill over gas or charcoal, use hardwood logs, chunks, briquettes, or chips to impart a smoky flavor to foods. Different wood varieties add subtle nuances; try applewood for sweetness, mesquite for tang, or hickory for a bacon-like taste. Make sure to soak any wood chips for about an hour before you start to get the most smoke infusion.

Work your grill
Create heat zones like a pro. On a kettle grill, bank coals in its center. Sear food in the middle, where heat is highest, then move it to the outer edges of the grill to perfectly cook without burning. On a gas grill, leave one burner on high, another on medium.

And the most important tip of all …

When checking for doneness, resist the urge to repeatedly poke, stab, or flip your food. Instead, give food time to sear and develop a crust; turn only when grill marks form.

Marianne Moore is Director of Sales and Catering at 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group

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