With summer just around the corner, grilling has become the great American pastime.
Here are 10 tips for cooking outdoors:
1. Don’t use a gas grill. Cook with fire fueled by charcoal, logs or wood chips, preferably wood from fruit trees to enhance sweetness; don’t use grocery store logs. TV chef Valentine Warner calls smoke “another ingredient” for cooking.
2. Keep your grill clean to fight bacteria. Line your grill bed with aluminum foil for quick cleanup, but make sure that air can permeate the bottom.
3. After you light your fire, wait 30 minutes before grilling. Test the heat by holding your hand over the grill. High heat low (2 to 3 seconds); medium heat (5 to 6 seconds) and low heat (10 to 12 seconds).
4. Let raw meat sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. The colder the meat, the longer it takes to cook. Do not exceed 30 minutes.
5. Create heat zones in your grill. Sear meat in the center, where fire should be the highest, then finish cooking your meat by moving it to the edges.
6. Resist poking or flipping meat, which will dry it out. Turn it with a spatula.
7. Don’t overload skewers; cook meat and vegetables on separate skewers. Consider using edible skewers made from rosemary, cinnamon sticks or lemongrass.
8. Wait until food is nearly done before applying sauce because the sugar content in sauce will burn if applied too soon.
9. Apply butter or oil to the skin to make it crisp if you are cooking chicken.
10. Use a cooking thermometer.