Because the scourge of burger brutalization must come to an end, we tapped the editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine and Top Chef Masters judge James Oseland, along with the team from their Test Kitchen, to share 13 magically indispensable grilling tips you probably should have known, but definitely didn't.
Said tips are wonderfully general and can apply to most grill-able things, but they'll be using them on grilled corn with pesto, bacon-wrapped stuffed pork loin, a garlic and red miso porterhouse, and Gai Yahng Thai grilled chicken with sweet chile sauce. Let's go.
Tip # 1: Go with charcoal over propane (not a problem here, obviously), and, almost as importantly, definitely get a charcoal cylinder. "Getting the coals lit is the longest part", and a cylinder will make it that much easier.
Tip #2: Always remove any leftover meat and char from the grill, as it will undoubtedly make your own eats all nasty. A grill brush is supremely important, but if you don't have one or forgot it, you can also use a crumpled-up piece of tin foil and some tongs, or even half an onion. Just start scouring away and everything should flake right off.
Tip #3: Create zones for high heat, low heat, and indirect heat by spacing out your charcoal. This will allow you to properly manage the heat rather than cooking everything over a grill that's as hot as you can possibly get it, which, come on, is definitely what you've been doing. Also, always have a second cylinder of charcoal in the wait, rather than piling up your bricks high.
If you're testing to see if the 'coal is hot enough for that high heat section, just hold your hand over the grill. "It's perfect if you can only hold it there for three seconds."
Tip #4: "Ziplocs and grilling are a match made in heaven." They let you see what's going on in there, which is perfect because you definitely don't want to over marinate -- if you're using something that's particularly acidic, it can even start to cook your meat like a ceviche. That's what the grill is for, silly acids!
Tip #5: This may seem like a "duh" one, but if you're planning to serve a paced meal rather than just tearing through everything as it comes off, put the thing that's going to take the longest on first -- in this case, it's the stuffed pork loin wrapped in bacon. It's better to have some stuff sitting on low heat (most meat dishes will keep pretty well) than waiting an hour in between courses.
Tip #6: If you don't have a lid (and the grills in BK Bridge Park don't), tin foil can step in if something needs to be covered.
Tip #7: There are two ways you should grill corn: either still within the husk and cooked over indirect heat for juicy and sweet kernels untouched by the flames, or with a little char as we've done here. To go that way, remove the silk, then instead of removing the husk, peel it back to create a handle to grab onto when it's done, since "you're always going to forget those stupid things that you stick in the corn".
Before putting the corn on, brush it with olive oil or "aged beef fat" if you're a true badass.
Once you pull the corn off, immediately hit it with your topping (pesto in this case), as that's when it's most receptive to accepting the flavor. That was like three tips for the free price of one.
Tip #8: Some people differ on whether or not you can throw frozen meats on the grill, but, if you "start the meat at room temp, you get a better sear and the internal goodness cooks more evenly".
Tip #9: If you've been marinating, you don't need to oil the grill, the marinade will be plenty.
Tip #10: If something starts to get completely engulfed in flames, move it to your spot for indirect heat immediately, even if it looks super-cool.
Tip #11: Make sure you've cooked your chicken enough to flip it before you start basting -- if you baste before then, it'll just burn.
Tip #12: Here's another potentially obvious one, but let your food actually cook -- the hardest thing about grilling is just letting something sit, as of course you want to flip, press, and watch all the aforementioned flare-ups, but the best thing you can do for your food is just leave it on the heat and let it do its thing.
Tip #13: Eat way too much!