Tips for the Perfect Barbecue From the Experts

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1. Clean your grill well before lighting it

A dirty grill turns out dirty food — burnt-tasting and unhealthy. A good wire brush is useful, but if you don’t have one, say Hirsheimer and Hamilton, “wad aluminum foil into a rough ball about four inches in diameter, heat your grill, then hold the ball with a pair of long-handled tongs and use it to scrub the grill clean.”

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2. Oil your grill

Once your grill is clean, brush or swab it with a light coating of oil. “This is important to keep food from sticking,” say Hirsheimer and Hamilton.

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3. Don’t cook straight from the refrigerator

“Take the meat out of the fridge at least an hour before putting it on the grill,” recommends Mixon. Wayman adds that it should always be at room temperature before you start to cook it, adding “this is especially essential with large pieces of meat.” (These may take several hours to warm up.)

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4. Salt your food ahead of time

“Salt your meat with coarse salt — I prefer sel gris from France — an hour before it hits the grill,” says Wayman. “This helps a nice crust to form.” Pressing the salt into the meat’s surface lightly will help it adhere during cooking. Some will fall off in the process anyway, and you can always adjust the seasoning when the food is off the grill.

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5. Start the fire early

Wayman notes that starting the fire well ahead of time heats the grill up evenly. This applies to any heat source, whether briquets, hardwood, or gas.