Tips for the Barbecue Chef

Sometimes we barbecue chefs lose our cool, and it’s not always from the heat of the grill. Things don’t always turn out the way we’d like—even though our family and guests assume that because we are the designated grillers we possess the same talents and skills of a short order cook.  But don’t fret. Even if you are a novice griller, you can still lay out your BBQ repast to please even the pickiest of your crew.

· Plan ahead. Prepare all your food grill-ready before time to start cooking.

· Coat the grill with olive oil or spray to prevent sticking.

· Once food is placed on the grill, slide your spatula under each piece to release any sticking points.

· To know when to start cooking by working backwards from the time you plan on serving the food; include cooking, grill/coals heating up and food prep time.

· Charcoal briquettes. Fill the top of a chimney starter with briquettes, the bottom with crumpled newspaper and place chimney in center of grill. Light newspaper, which will light the bottom briquettes. After about 10 minutes you will see flames at the top. Dump the coals onto the grill. When all coals are covered with a gray ash (5 to 10 minutes), spread them out and you’re ready to cook.

· Gas grilling. Turn on gas supply and ignite grill. When desired temperature is reached you are ready to cook.

· Digital meat thermometers are inexpensive and easy to use. Set dial for type of meat you are cooking and insert probe into thickest part of meat to read. Remove food when desired temperature is reached.

· Burgers. Use fresh meat and mix in ingredients—onions, garlic, chopped jalapeño or bell peppers, oregano, BBQ or hot sauce—and sprinkle salt and pepper just before going on the grill. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side to 140-degree internal temp. Tip: Don’t press down on the patties during cooking or you’ll squeeze out the delicious juices.

· Beef brisket. Marinate a 3 to 4 pound brisket for 24 hours or more in Worcestershire or teriyaki sauce with garlic and black pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side on direct high heat, then indirect heat for 15-20 minutes to internal temp of 130 degrees (medium-rare).

· Fish Fillets or Steaks (such as salmon, striped bass, and mahimahi). Cook 5 to 8 minutes per side (depending on heat) or to internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees.

· Boneless chicken breasts. Marinate for 30 minutes or more or rub both sides with a spice mix. Cook over high heat (375-400 degrees) for 4 to 5 minutes per side, then indirect heat for 8 to 12 minutes to 160-165 internal temperature. 

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