Barbecuing is such a simple cooking method and once you learn how to do it properly, you'll want to grill all through winter. We've all been to barbecues where we were served dry chicken, overcooked burgers and charred meat, but all of those scenarios are easy to avoid. You're just steps away from the perfect barbecue.
The most important tip to remember on your way to becoming your block's grill master is to leave the meat alone! Once it's on the barbecue, constantly poking, prodding and flipping does more harm than good. Pressing down on burgers only ensures a dry patty. Juices and fat will drain out with every flattening. Steaks will not cook evenly and delicate fish will become mutilated. In most cases, the meat will stick to the grill until it is ready to release on its own. This is a good rule of thumb for judging if something is ready to turn. And when you do, only flip once!
Most barbecue sauces have a fair amount of sugar, honey or other sweetener in them. While this makes the food taste great, it makes grilling difficult. Any sugar will burn after more than a couple of minutes on the grill. Because of this, it is best to coat chicken breasts or ribs with sauce at the very end of the cooking time. This will allow the sauce to cook into the meat, but not char. If your marinade has a lot of sugar, indirect heat is best to avoid burning.
There are conflicting opinions as to which is better: to oil the meat or to oil the grill. No matter what, do one or the other so that your dinner doesn't end up stuck to the grate. When cooking steaks, chicken or other large pieces of meat, oiling the food works well. For items that tend to fall apart like burgers, you may choose to oil the grate. And for very delicate items, like a whole fish, oiling both the fish and the grate is fail-safe.
Every gas grill seems to have hot spots that will dramatically impact cooking times. Get to know where these spots are to avoid overcooking. Place meat in the other areas that have an even temperature for consistent results each time. Also make sure to heat your grill to a constant temperature before putting the food on. If the temperature is fluctuating or not hot enough, the meat will not cook evenly.
Before grilling, make sure to heat up the grates and scrape off any remnants from the last meal. Occasionally clean under the grates to remove any grease or stray pieces of food that have fallen below. This keeps smoke down and won't affect the flavor of what you're cooking.
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