6 habits to avoid while grilling

Barbecuing TORWAISTUDIO/Shutterstock

Do your barbecue skills need a makeover? Check yourself before you wreck yourself. And your meat.

1. Don’t crush your burger with the back of the flipper or spatula

Smashing a patty into the grill will only squeeze out its delicious burgery juices. Instead, indent raw patties with your thumb to help keep them from swelling as they cook.

2. Don’t grill steak directly from frozen

Getting an even cook on fridge-cold meat is tricky. On meat from the freezer? Almost impossible. The heat takes so long to reach the centre of the cut that by the time it does, the exterior is burnt. If there’s anything worse than overcooked meat, it’s overcooked steak that’s somehow also still frozen.

3. Don’t go rogue with marinade

Marinating too long: this can make the meat mushy; depending on the meat, even two hours is enough for some cuts. Reusing marinade: if you want a dipping or finishing sauce, put some marinade aside before you add raw meat, or boil the used marinade to kill bacteria. Or just toss it, and make yourself a new batch. It’s a dish of marinade, not the Hope Diamond.

4. Let your meat rest

Cutting into meat right after removing it from the grill releases the fluid that keeps the meat juicy. The larger the piece of meat, the longer it should rest, but even burgers benefit from a few minutes. Keep the food warm by tenting it loosely with foil. Don’t abandon it outside. Because wildlife.

5. Don’t play with your meat

(Not a euphemism.) Non-stop poking, prodding, rotating, and flipping of almost anything on the grill can ruin it. This level of obsessive attention is only helpful if you’re building the world’s largest Rube Goldberg machine or detailing Mariah Carey’s car.

6. Not everything should be grilled

Grilled pizza? Yum. Grilled Bundt cake? Absolutely! Grilled liver, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti? Sure. If you’re into that. But delicate fish such as sole or tilapia tends to fall apart, and mixed veggie-and-meat kebabs cook unevenly, and if you put a cardboard container of Chinese takeout on a screaming hot grill, you might set your face on fire.

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