How to Make a Perfect Barbecue this July
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July 2, 2013
By A. Lee, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

This weekend on the 4th of July, some 220 million barbecue grills will
be fired up in the backyards of America. That’s my back-of-the-
envelope calculation based on figures released by the Hearth, Patio &
Barbecue Association (HPBA), which estimate that  82 percent of the
117 million  U.S. households own a grill or smoker.  And almost all of
them – 97 percent – actually use them.  We may be a nation where only
60% of us vote for President but almost all of us love to grill.  

Ask what unifies America and the answer is clear – barbecue, baby,

Given that almost all of us are Grillers, it’s surprising how many of us
suck at it.  Burned , overcooked burgers, hotdogs almost completely
scorched, steaks burned on one side and not done on the other make
up common fare at backyard barbecues.
Charcoal , Propane or Electric Barbecues –Which One Is the Best?

Charcoal or wood chips enhance the flavor of the meat. The downside
of charcoal or chips is that it’s harder to control the heat. And of
course, the burning of charcoal or wood chips create a lot of smoke
which can damage your lungs and the environment.

Electric grills will spare you the black smoke of charcoal grills and are
better at controlling the temperature of the grill but the downside  is
that they just don’t have the authenticity of a charcoal or wood chip
grill.  After all, part of the reason we love grilling is that it stokes the
vestigial memories in our DNA of the old hunter-gatherer days of cave
living, when we all sat around a fire and shared meat from the open
flame. Caves didn’t have electrical outlets.

My choice for the best combo of authenticity and  control are propane
grills.  Propane is easy to handle and you get a fairly even temperature

How to Prep Your Grill

Before you fire up the grill, make sure it’s clean. But a grill utensil set
that includes a grill brush for cleaning, tongs, large fork and a separate
brush for putting oil on the grill.

Then, dip the grill brush in a cooking oil of your choice and lightly coat
the grill with oil. Do this even you’re using aluminum foil on your meat
because it also will keep the aluminum foil from sticking to the grill.

How to Heat Up a Grill Properly

After your grill is cleaned and oiled, then and only then heat it up
slowly. Never put meat on a cold grill.
Wait until the grill is hot. Test it by putting a piece of meat on the grill.
If it sizzles but doesn’t create smoke, it’s just right. If it smokes, your
grill is too hot. Lower the heat.

If your grill is too hot, your meat will cook too fast on the outside but
remain too raw on the inside. This is a big problem with meat and
chicken especially.

Some people commit the grilling “sin” of pre-cooking meat in an oven
before they put it on the grill. You don’t have to do this if you just take
the time to heat – but not overheat –your grill.
Taking these simple preparations will cut down on the under-grilling
and over-grilling mistakes this July 4th.  Fire up the grill.

How to Tell If Your Meat Is Ready

Most people make the mistake of turning the meat over too much. Don't
do that. Turning your meat over too many times will increase the risk of
under cooking it.  Just time the meat instead. Cook hamburgers for 3 to
4 minutes on one side before you turn it over.

The second biggest mistake people make is pressing the meat with a
spatula or fork. This will not make the meat cook faster but it will dry
out your meat. Leave the meat alone while it cooks. If you want to
know if it's "done", just poke it with a toothpick.

Real grilling aficionados use a temperature gauge to test the meat
temperature. If you use a temperature gauge, remember not to cross-
contaminate meat with vegetables and poultry. Use a separate
temperature gauge for your red meats, one for your chicken and
poultry and another for your vegetables.

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