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11 Pro Tips That Will Help You Become a Grilling Guru

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Whether you’re new to grilling or a seasoned veteran who has yet to master the grill, here are a few key tips from Chef Lesli Sommerdorf for Harmons that will help make every barbecue a success.

Grilling season is in full swing and to be honest, food just tastes better when it’s grilled. That means backyard barbecues, picnics in the park or up the canyon, and lots of camping. Whether you’re new to grilling or a seasoned veteran who has yet to master the grill, here are a few key tips from Chef Lesli Sommerdorf for Harmons that will help make every barbecue a success:

For a gas grill:

1. Ignite one or two elements and set on medium-high heat; ignite one element and set to low heat. Close the lid to get the grill and grate hot: this will burn off any residual bits of food and make for optimal indirect cooking.

For a charcoal grill:

2. Don’t purchase lighter fluid or briquettes that have been soaked in lighter fluid. This imparts food with a terrible flavor. Instead, use hardwood lump charcoal such as mesquite, which is pure wood and doesn’t contain any additives.

3. To cook small pieces of meat such as chicken, burgers, hot dogs or steaks, spread an even layer of hot coals on the bottom of grill, then pour more charcoal over hot coals on one side of grill, creating an indirect-heat grill.

4. If you use a chimney starter, after dumping out the coals on the bottom of the grill, remember to replace the grill grate and close the lid to heat the grate to prevent food from sticking to it.

For all grills:

5. Always “season” – or oil – the hot grill grate prior to putting food on it. To do this, pour vegetable or canola oil into a container such as a bread loaf pan. Using tongs, dip rolled-up paper towels into oil and carefully, but quickly, wipe oil on the grill grate. Discard the paper towels.

6. Thoroughly pat meat dry with paper towels before placing it on the grill.

7. Purchase an instant-read thermometer to test food doneness. Don’t ever rely on checking doneness by cutting open a portion of meat.

8. Cook everything until it’s done to keep yourself and those you’re cooking for safe. Temperatures of protein doneness:

  • Beef and lamb steaks: Rare, 120-130 degrees; medium-rare, 130-135 degrees; medium, 135-145 degrees; medium-well, 145-150 degrees; well, 155+ degrees; ground: 160 degrees
  • Pork steaks or chops: Rare, 137-140 degrees; medium-rare, 140-145 degrees; medium, 145-150 degrees; medium-well, 150-155 degrees; well, 160+ degrees; ground: 160 degrees
  • Poultry: 165 degrees
  • Fish: Until opaque throughout and flakes with a fork or paring knife

9. To avoid cross-contamination, do not place cooked meat back onto surfaces that held raw meat.

10. Always let meat rest for at least 5-10 minutes after cooking before cutting. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves.

11. If perishable food is between 40 and 140 degrees for more than 4 hours total, throw it away!

Now that you’re knowledgeable about grilling, the only question left is: What should I grill?

With its summer Food for Thought guide, Harmons definitely has some answer. For appetizers, why not try Grilled Zucchini and Cheese Roll-Ups or Grilled Corn Cobettes with Hoisin-Orange Butter. For a main course, how about Spicy Korean Barbecue Beef Short Ribs, Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks, and Chicken Ranch with Halloumi Cheese Burgers? And for dessert, grill pineapple spears and serve them with a Brown Butter Rum Sauce.

For these recipes and other great grilling ideas, visit bit.ly/HarmonsGrillingRecipes.

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