Cookouts, like most family gatherings, can end one of two ways: Everyone is happy and full after eating a ton of food, or tensions soar after your uncle gives you unsolicited advice on how to grill the meat, and the food ends up dry.
Either way, the stakes are high.
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Grilling season usually kicks off Memorial Day weekend, when the charcoal comes out of hibernation in the shed and the grill is seasoned for the next few months. Before firing it up, refresh yourself with these 10 tips to make for a great cookout.
- Direct cooking: A quick rule of thumb for whether to use direct cooking is based on time, according to Better Homes and Gardens. For anything taking more than 20 minutes to cook, use indirect heat. Otherwise, use direct.
- Chicken: When cooking chicken thighs, remember dark meat has more fat that white meat. Cooking Light recommends taking the skin off but leaving the bone.
- Preheat: Get the grill warm 15 to 25 minutes before you’re ready to cook, Eating Well reports. Not only will this kill bacteria, it’ll also prevent sticking.
- Clean up: Before you get cooking, scrape the grate with a wire brush, according to Country Living.
- Get a good cut: The cut of the meat matters, according to Food Network. Splurge for good cuts of meat for good grilling.
- Stick around: Once you put the meat on the grill, let it sit for a while, Food Network reports. It could stick if you try to move or flip it before it’s ready.
- Use your utensils: Having the proper utensils and tongs for grilling can make or break the whole situation. Serious Eats recommends getting an arsenal of spatulas and long tongs.
- Charcoal: For grillers using charcoal, Esquire recommends putting potatoes, onions and corn straight on the embers for a smoky taste.
- Flavor: Give a flavor boost to whatever meat you’re cooking by finding a great marinade or dry rub to prepare the meat before it meets the grill, according to Williams-Sonoma.
- Room to breathe: Don’t overcrowd the grill, Thrillst reports. When you flip the meat, flip it on a fresh area of the grill.
What grilling tips and tricks do you have?