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Grilling is a wonderful American pastime. Who doesn’t love to prepare and enjoy a casual summer meal with friends and family in your own backyard? Grilling is simple, but there are a few secrets to doing it right. I’ve put together a few tips and tricks, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid that should help take your grill skills to the next level.

Handy grilling tips & tricks:

  • Always pat your meat dry on both sides with a paper towel before grilling. Wet meat won’t sear.
  • Make sure to clean your grill – you want your food to taste like what you’re cooking now, not like what you cooked before. Use a grill brush while it’s still hot, it’s much easier than waiting until it’s cool.
  • Oil your grill by rubbing it with half an onion dipped in oil.
  • For tender meat, add salt about a half-hour before grilling.
  • Hamburgers tend to swell in the middle when they cook, use your thumb or the back of a spoon to make a small indentation in the center of the patty, so it will hold its shape and stay nice and flat while cooking.
Common grilling mistakes:

  • Putting food on the grill too early – Let your grill come to temperature before adding the meat. This will help you get a nice sear on the outside.
  • Constantly adjusting your food – you’ll end up with lots of meat stuck to the grill. Most meats only need to be turned once.
  • ‘Over-working’ ground beef when you’re making hamburger patties. The more you handle ground beef, the less tender it will be.
  • Checking doneness by cutting into meat – this causes all of those delicious juices to seep out. Instead, use a good meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Not letting meat rest. Again, cutting into your meat too soon will cause the juices to run out of the meat and onto your cutting board. Always let your meat rest for five or 10 minutes before cutting into it.
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