Grilling isn’t as simple as crank heat, cook meat. With an attention to detail and a few vital steps you can transform mediocre meals into amazing eating experiences. Follow the lead of Adam Perry Lang, MH BBQ guru, and upgrade your grill skills
Don’t keep a dirty grill
If you’re lazy about clean-up, your food will suffer, says Lang. “Residue accumulates over time and settles into the nooks and crannies of your grill grates, causing the sticking that can tear off the beautiful crust you worked so hard to create,” he says. Attack your grates with a wire brush when you’re finished grilling and the coals are still hot. Then, apply a light coating of oil to protect the grates until the next use.
Don’t fear the flame
Flare ups, when controlled, can help add flavor to your food. “There’s a difference between good flames and bad flames,” says Lang. That acrid black smoke coming from a brisket with barbecue sauce that’s been on too long? That’s bad. Drippings from a naturally fatty piece of meat or fish that cause flames to briefly leap? That’s fine. Resist the urge to move the meat to a section of the grill away from the flames.
Don’t skimp on sauce
Dunk your meat in barbecue sauce after it cooks and you’re missing an opportunity to heighten the flavors of the sauce. Instead, apply the sauce throughout the cooking process if the meat begins to look dry. “If you’re constantly coating the piece of meat in sauce, you’re adding layer upon layer of flavor, and the sauce won’t burn,” says Lang. “Baste. Let the sauce reduce. Repeat.”
Don’t slice your meat in a hurry
Even though you and your guests are jonesing, let your meat rest. “The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill. It’s a gentle, more delicate heat that tempers the taste and the tenderness,” Lang says. As a general rule, the thicker the cut of meat, the longer it needs to rest—thin steaks rest five minutes, a whole pork butt rests 30.
No matter how well seasoned the outside of your meat is, the inside may be bland. Avoid this with “board dressing,” says Lang. Combine 6 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Let you meat rest on this board, flipping once, and when you slice as well. The juices from the meat will mingle with the board dressing, heightening flavor. And don’t forget to season your meat once more after you slice it and before serving.