Ah, Summer. That special time of the year when those good people who only cook one Season a year (let’s call them WHAT they are: dads) dust off the old grill to burn a few Steaks and serve a semi-rare chicken. Okay, maybe I’m being unfair here. There are many awesome backyard chefs who take a structured and scientific approach to a good barbecue and thus reap the tasty rewards, but there are just as many who think that all it takes to prepare a successful backyard barbecue is the opportunity to buy a few steaks and light a fire.

I have taken enough cooking classes in my time to see the warning signs of hard, soot or downright peril meat. Here are some of the most common mistakes beginners make at a barbecue and how to avoid them.

Error n° 1: you used lighter fluid or match charcoal

The thought: of course, if I pour my coals in liquid fuel, they will light up faster! It makes sense and it is a mistake that most beginners make. It doesn’t help that match charcoal and lighter gasoline are heavily marketed in the barbecue aisles of visitor centers and supermarkets. It’s easy to understand why so many people buy lighter gasoline: try to hold a match under a coal and you won’t get very far.

The reality: after bursting into a cloud of atomic mushrooms, the flames quickly go out and die. You end up splashing more lighter fluid on the coals in a desperate attempt to keep the fire going (and maybe even after the fire is alive and kicking because it’s so much fun to set things on fire). Everything seems to be going well until you take the first bite flavored with the essence of a hamburger. The truth is that no matter how long you leave a fire lit with lighter gasoline burning, you can taste it on your food, and it’s not pleasant.

The solution: What you really need is a chimney starter. You place a crumpled newspaper underneath, pack the top with coals, light the newspaper with a single match or a lighter, then let it do its magic while the oxygen is sucked up and through the coals to light it efficiently without the need for lighter gasoline at all.

Your coals are lit in record time without the risk of adding false flavors to your food.

Mistake n ° 2: You spread the coals before they were completely gray

The thought: but I’m hungry now! I’m catching on. If you have a spatula in your hand, everything will look like a hamburger. You can’t wait to put the food on the grill, the gray ashes are damned.

The reality: they start cooking before their coals are ready, which leads to inconsistent heat, wrong flavors and unpredictable cooking times.

The Solution: Be Patient! There is a reason why the bag tells you to wait until the coals are covered with gray ash. A fire that may seem moderately hot while the coals still have a little black will increase very quickly to the level of hell as the coals continue to ignite. Temperature control is a top priority when cooking, and waiting for these coals to stabilize is the best way to avoid surprises.

Error n° 3: You haven’t preheated the grill

The thought: this fire is damn hot. He is now ready to cook.

The reality: this fire can generate a lot of radiant heat — this is the infrared heat that you can feel on your hand when you hold it on the grill — but the grates themselves are still relatively cold, which means that your food does not receive much conductive heat-the heat transferred directly from the grill grates.

Instead of picking up dark, attractive grill marks and easily detaching them, your food will stick to the metal. And the meat stuck to the metal is an actual chemical bond that is almost impossible to break cleanly. Instead of showing itself clean, your food is tearing and tearing.

The solution: After turning on your fire, cover the grill and let it preheat for at least five to 10 minutes to allow the fire to transfer the heat to the grill grates. With preheated cooking grates, your food is much less likely to stick, because its proteins change shape even before coming into direct contact with the metal.

Hot grills are also easier to clean, which leads us to do it…

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