A full 63% of the U.S. population grills every single month, and that figure is probably much higher now that we’re solidly into grilling season. But even if you’ve been heading out to the backyard or patio to grill for years, you might be making some major grilling mistakes. Here are five of the most common you’ll want to fix before you have even one more summer cookout:
- Placing Your Grill Incorrectly
First things first: safety. Data collected between 2007 and 2011 show that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,800 inside and outside fires related to grilling, and you definitely don’t want to be a data point in the next study. Grill in an open spot clear of flammable building materials or vegetation. And deck furniture is great, but it shouldn’t be placed too close to either charcoal grills or propane grills (the same goes for outdoor fireplaces, by the way). You can also look for deck furniture made of non-flammable materials to be extra cautious.
- Bringing Your Meat to Room Temperature
For some reason, there’s a myth floating around that you should let your meat sit out and come to room temperature before you throw it on the grill. But that’s just a recipe for bacteria growth and possible food poisoning. Keep your meat safely chilled until you’re ready to cook; a grill can easily reach 600 to 800 degrees, so it will take only seconds for the meat to get warmed up once it’s over the flames.
- Salting After Grilling
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that salting food before it’s grilled will dry it out and leave it tough. A generous sprinkling of kosher salt prior to grilling is the best seasoning you can use, and it won’t dry meat out unless you salt it hours in advance.
- Turning Your Steak With a BBQ Fork
Don’t stab your steaks with a barbecue fork to turn them, as this will let all the juices run out (and avoid any other cooking techniques that involve cutting or puncturing steaks until they’ve been cooked and rested, such as cutting them in half to check doneness). Tongs are the tools for the job.
- Using Contaminated Serving Dishes
Don’t forget about what happens when your masterpiece comes off the grill and is ready for serving. Instead of slapping cooked food back on the plate you brought raw meat or poultry out to the grill on, use a clean serving platter so everyone can enjoy it safely.
Do you have any other tips to share on perfecting the art of the summer cookout, from deck furniture choices to sangria recipes? Join the discussion in the comments.