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Don’t Make These Grilling Mistakes

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It’s Friday and that means weekend barbecues! Here are some things to do and some things not to do to make your grill the hottest spot in the neighborhood. 

Grilling is my favorite way to do food. I’ve grilled everything from breakfast to pizza to bacon and fruit. Yes, there has been some stuff that has gone in the fire pit along the way, so take my advice and don’t make these same mistakes.

Buy Enough Meat – Most burgers will shrink as the juices render out, so don’t underestimate how much meat you’ll need. Do six ounce patties and then multiply that by the number of guests you’ll have. For a family of four figure 24 ounces, or a pound and a half of beef.

Buy Fattier Meat – I tried to go the healthy route with burgers and do 95 percent lean beef, but it was hard and dry and had no flavor. Many restaurants and professional chefs will tell you, fattier meat means more flavor, so look for 85 percent lean beef.

Don’t Handle Your Meat Too Much – Heh. Seriously, though, the more you mash it, smash it, roll it around and knead it, the tougher your meat gets, so don’t over do it when handling your meat. Make your burger patty, then season it, then put it on the grill.

Big Buns – Big buns are fine in certain cases, but in this case, it sucks having big buns and a tiny burger (or even worse, a tiny hot dog. Heh) so make sure the buns aren’t too big for what you’re making. I’ve had the Coborn’s Take and Bake Ciabatta Rolls and they’re just perfect. The meat to bun ratio is what burger dreams are made of.

Smashing Your Meat – Heh. When you see your patties puffing up in the middle, your first instinct may be to smash it down. Resist. All that does is drain all the juices and make it dry. If you’re worried about your patties puffing up in the middle, when you’re shaping them, put a thumbprint in the middle of the raw patty before you toss it on the grill.

Shutting the Lid to Speed it Up – It speeds things up a little, but but it doesn’t make the burgers cook evenly. Burgers shouldn’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes. If you’re shooting for the 10 minute mark, throw the burgers on the grill, get the good sear and do about four minutes per side. Flip it again for one minute per side. They should be just about perfect. Otherwise your food just tastes like smoke and nothing else.

When to Add the Cheese – Whether you’re cheesing your burgers or saucing your steaks and chicken, wait until about two minutes before you’re going to pull them off the grill. If you add it too soon, the cheese is just going to slide off the burger and end up all over your grill grates or at the bottom of your grill. If you’re saucing things, most sauces are made with sugar or high fructose corn syrup or both and it burns very easily, so if you don’t want burned steaks or breasts (heh), wait until the very end to toss your sauce.

Happy grilling!

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