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Easy summer grilling

Grilling outdoors is the perfect way to cook in a summer evening.

Summer evenings are beautiful. Take advantage of the longer light hours to move outside, prepare the grill and get ready to enjoy these long, leisure evenings.

Charcoal grilling provides great flavor, but gas is easier for even cooking.

Heat the grill and wait until it has reached the proper temperature. If using charcoal, allow plenty of time for the coals to reach the proper temperature and be tinged with ash. Spread the coals out in an even layer. You can make a double or triple layer on one side of the grill and a single layer on the other for better heat control.

Pre-heat the grill with the lid closed for 10 or 15 minutes, if gas. On charcoal grills, the coals should be glowing red with white ash forming, this can take a little longer.

A flavorful aromatic smoke adds to the aroma and penetrates the food to add a distinctive flavor. You can use wood chips that have been soaked in water and apply directly on top of the coals. Or pick fresh herbs from your garden such as rosemary, marjoram, thyme, bay leafs or oregano and lay onto the coals. Do not use green wood, or any wood that has been treated for use as lumber.

Cooking with wooden skewers? Soak them in water for about 30 minutes before grilling.

Oil the grill surface with a brush or oil spray, with a light hand, or oil the food lightly. Careful, excess oil will drip and cause flare-ups.

Choose a good piece of meat. Meat that is higher in fat marbling will produce a juicer BBQ product. Much of the fat will melt away during cooking anyway. Excess fat on the outside of the meat should be trimmed, this fat does not help the moisture content of the food and fat drippings will cause flare-ups.

Marinating will turn drier pieces of meat into juicy bites and will add flavor to plain food. Ideally meat should be marinated for 1 hour or more before grilling.Brush the food with a water or vinegar based marinade and place the meat or vegetables on the grill. Be careful not to overcrowd the food. Avoid sugary marinades (teriyaki, barbecue sauce) on meats you are going to grill. Add these sauces near the end of the grilling process to avoid sticking to the grill.

Ideally, use pieces of meat less than 2 inches thick; preferably about 1 inch. Grill on a hot grill and keep the lid down except when brushing with marinade, checking for doneness, etc.

Cook on one side for half the cooking time, then brush the top with additional marinade and turn to cook the other side. Avoid turning more than required, as this will prevent caramelization. Although many recommend continuous flipping of meats while grilling. This can actually dry out meats, so avoid flipping over and over.

Put a light coating of olive oil on vegetables you’re going to grill. This will help keep them moist and bring out flavor.

To grill ribs, you can boil them for an hour first, marinate and then grill at medium-high heat for 15 minutes. You can also choose to grill them completely on the grill at a very low temperature for several hours.

Use indirect heat on chicken pieces with bones. Otherwise, they are more likely to burn.

If flare-ups occur, move the food to prevent burning; usually, moving the food is enough to control the flare. If not, immediately put down the barbecue lid and let the lack of oxygen extinguish the fire. For an open charcoal grill, however, your can spritz with a fine mist of water if needed. Keep a spritzer bottle handy to help deal with charcoal flare-ups.

Barbeque sauces usually contain a lot of sugar and will burn if applied too soon. Apply sauce as the food is almost ready to remove and cook only long enough to just set the sauce- 10 minutes or less.

Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. Avoid pricking the meat unnecessarily as juices will drain away.

If you are cooking for a small group, take advantage to prepare your side dishes at the same time. Cook sliced vegetables or soft food wrapped in foil at the same time than the meat.