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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke


Grilling Do’s & Don’ts

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I’ve been grilling most of my adult life. Over that time I’ve made my share of mistakes. Over the past three years I’ve started learning a lot of good tips as well. Some of this list is a result of my good and bad grill experiences. The rest are tips from reading, research and interacting with other BBQ lovers.

  • DO leave plenty of time for prep, particularly when doing a new recipe for the first time. I always try to start early because inevitably something will take longer than you expect. Better to have too much time than too little.
  • DO reread the recipes a day or so prior to your cook. Rubs or marinades are sometimes put on 12 to 24 hours in advance. Make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. Also look at the times for applying rubs or marinades.
  • DON’T forget grill related prep. If  you are using wood chips you need to soak them in cold water for an hour or so. Be sure to factor things like this into your start time. Also be sure to factor in how long your grill takes to come up to temperature.
  • DO use fresh herbs and spices whenever the recipe calls for it. They make a HUGE difference in the taste of your food. I used to routinely use jar spices for everything. After getting Steven Raichlen’s books, I started trying fresh herbs and spices and it makes everything that much tastier.
  • DON’T use sauces or rubs with a high sugar content for items being cooked under high heat for extended periods of time. The sugar will burn,
  • DO keep your work area and all your utensils clean.
  • DO have a spare set of utensils around if your are planning on doing a lot of grilling. One set can be in the dishwasher, while your prepping the next wave of food.
  • DO practice safe food handling techniques. Do a Google search for “safe food handling” and read up on it.

  • DO keep your grill grates clean and lubricated. Steven Raichlen has a mantra he repeats over and over again: “Keep it hot, keep it clean, keep it lubricated.” Now I always used to scrape my grill grates, but his method is even better than simply scraping and ultimately is easier.
  • When your grill has come up to temperature, scrape the grill grates with your grill brush. Then oil the grill grates using a paper towel soaked in cooking oil or something like PAM for grilling. Fold up the  moistened towel and use your tongs to hold the towel while you rub down the grates. You can also use a piece of fat from your meat. After you’ve removed your food from the grill, let 15 minutes go by and scrape the grill down. Then apply some more oil to the grates. All this oiling sounds like extra work, but believe me it is worth it. Your food will be less likely to stick to the grate. This makes cooking and subsequent cleaning easier
  • DO buy a spare propane tank and keep it filled. Somehow when you don’t have the spare tank filled, you run out of gas at the worst time-such as a holiday weekend when the stores are all closed.
  • DON’T forget to shut ALL of the gas burners off. I’ve turned off the rotisserie burner and forgot to turn off the burner under the smoker drawer.
  • DON’T forget to shut off the valve on the propane tank too.
  • DO keep spare batteries around for your grill accessories, such as remote read thermometers. Chasing around after batteries at 3:00 AM on an overnight smoking session is not fun.
  • DO keep the area around your grill clean and free from flammable debris. Several times a year it rains pine needles in my yard. During those times it is a constant battle to keep the area around the grill clean. It is a must though, because I’ve seen how fast those things burn first hand. A neighbor burned up a big  chunk of their front yard and almost their house in the blink of an eye.
    • DO keep a fire extinguisher nearby the  grill or a pressurized garden hose.
  • DON’T put your grill in a location where it can come into contact with flammable objects. Remember the wind can blow branches into the grill or knock things over onto the grill.
  • DON’T let young children or pets be near your grill unsupervised.
  • DON’T wear loose clothing around the grill. It is also not a great idea to wear shorts or open shoes or sandals when handling lit charcoal.
  • DON’T put a grill cover on a wet grill in cold weather. Below freezing temps makes plastic covers brittle and they will tear easily. Particularly if it is frozen to the grill.


  • DON’T poke or stab your food. It will only serve to let out the juices.
  • DON’T use a BBQ fork to flip your meat-see above. You can use it to pry up food that is stuck to the grill grate. Put the fork so the tines surround a grill grate bar ,slide the fork under the meat and rock the fork to lever the meat up off the grill.
  • DO let the meat rest before cutting into it. Many recipes tell you just how long this resting time should be. During this resting period, the juices that were coming up to the surface of the meat can redistribute themselves throughout the cut. In some recipes this carryover time is used to let the meat finish cooking to it’s final temperature.
  • DON’T trust the thermometer mounted high in the lid of the grill. Get a thermometer that you can mount at the grate level of your grill. Better yet get a wireless remote thermometer. You don’t have to open the grill lid to take the temperature and you can set temperature alarms to warn you of a  high or low temperature.
  • DO keep a cooking log to help you learn from every cook. I wrote about my cooking logs in an earlier blog entry and there are samples you can look at for ideas. The logs help me remember, even months later, what went right and wrong. things I’d change. special ingredients required etc.
  • DON’T crowd your food together on the grill. Having space around the food allows quick moves in the event of flare ups.
Above all DO remember to have fun with your hobby. It is getting you some quality time outdoors, you’re making some tasty food and you get to share it with friends and family.

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