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Grilling tips for your Fourth of July BBQ

Kristin is a freelance magazine and web editor. She's compulsively organized, loves solving people's problems, and makes ice cream in her spare time, which you can read about on her blog: belinder.co

The chef’s guide to grilling

Fire up that grill like a pro this Independence Day with these five grilling tips from some of our favorite chefs.

If you're in charge of the grill for the Fourth of July celebration this year, make sure you don't disappoint on one of the most important parts of the day. After all, the holiday is all about family, food and fireworks. We polled some of our favorite chefs to get their best tips and tricks for manning the grill like a pro.

1. Plan your workspace

Most grills — especially charcoal ones — don't offer up enough workspace for plates, utensils and more. Bobby Flay, TV personality and chef at Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa offers a remedy: "Grilling is so much more relaxing when you are not trying to juggle a whole collection of plates and bowls as you do it. If your grill doesn’t have enough space, set up a table right next to your grill," he says. Having enough space will also help you keep the raw meat plate separate from the veggie spread, and will keep your family healthier.

2. Boost the flavor

Whatever your preferred BBQ style — rub, sauce or a combination — this tip will help you boost the flavor in all of your meals. Sea Crest Beach Hotel"s Executive Chef Daniel Kenney uses fresh herbs in a new way to add flavor. "Simply take a bundle of your favorite fresh herbs and use them to brush on marinades and oils for an added burst of flavor," he says. We'll be heading out to the garden to grab some rosemary and thyme immediately.

3. Warm up those steaks

Before you throw your favorite cut on the grill, give the meat a chance to warm up a bit. "Take the item you are grilling out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before it goes on the grill," says Chef Graham Elliot of Graham Elliot Bistro and Primary Food & Drink. "This way the meat is closer to room temperature and will cook more quickly and evenly. It won’t take as long to cook in the middle, and will thus avoid charring or overcooking the outside."

4. Use a chimney

If you're using a charcoal grill, chefs recommend skipping the lighter fluid. Yes, it might make lighting the coals easier, but it can give a chemical flavor to your meat if you use too much. Greg Lombardi, Executive Chef at Del Frisco's Grille New York, suggests using a charcoal chimney. "You start the fire with newspaper and the coals. It’s much faster, and it’s a safer alternative to lighter fluid," he says. One other quick safety tip: "Always keep a spray bottle of water by the grill in case you get flare up," says Eli Kirshtein, Executive Chef and partner of The Luminary in Atlanta.

5. Use the right tools

One of our favorite tips came from Nate Anda of Red Apron Butchery. He recommends "purchasing a cheap brick at the home and garden store and wrapping it in foil to weigh down meats when grilling. It's a great way to quickly grill a chicken." Talk about an inexpensive meat press. And don’t forget to always have a thermometer. "Cutting your meat to check for doneness will release all those delicious juices," says John Stage, founder and pit master of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. "Every slab of ribs, piece of chicken and steak has its moment of perfect doneness, and a thermometer will help you find that."

Now that you have all the best insider secrets for a killer Fourth of July cookout, don't forget to pick up some Open Nature Meat from Safeway to finish off your perfect Independence Day.

This post was sponsored by Safeway.

More Grilling Tips

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BBQ 101: The safe grilling guide
How to get grilled flavor indoors

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