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9 BBQ Tricks And Tips From Pitmasters

Summer’s in the air, and that means the smell of barbecue should be too. Break out your tongs and hone your skills with these BBQ tips from the experts.

1. DON’T USE A GAS GRILL.

There are a lot of different ways to cook barbecue—direct heat, indirect heat, with charcoal, with wood chips, with split logs—but one thing that most experts agree on is that a gas grill isn’t the way to go.

2. USE WOOD FROM FRUIT TREES FOR EXTRA FLAVOR.

To change up the usual flavor, try adding fruit tree wood chips to your charcoal. Fruit woods are mild in flavor and high in sap, and generally have fewer impurities in them.

3. SOAK WOOD CHIPS IN WATER BEFORE COOKING.

Soak wood chips in water for at least an hour or, even better, overnight before draining them. Then wrap them in an aluminum foil ‘burrito’ and put them in your grill. The water content makes the chips produce more smoke, which increases your flavor.

4. LET THE MEAT SIT BEFORE EATING.

After removing your meat from the grill, let it sit for a few minutes. This seals the juices and keeps the meat from drying out. Do not cut until you are ready to immediately serve and eat.

5. AVOID LIGHT FLUID-FLAVORED MEAT.

If you’re using lighter fluid to get your charcoal fire started, make sure that the fire is completely out before you introduce meat into the mix. If the fire’s not out, then there’s still some lighter fluid that hasn’t been burned away, and you do not want that taste on your food.

6. SOAK WOODEN SKEWERS IN WATER TO AVOID BURNING.

If kebabs are on your summer menu, make sure to soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes before use to keep them from burning. If using metal skewers, wipe them with a piece of paper towel dipped in vegetable oil to stop food from sticking to them.

7. PROPER AIR CIRCULATION IS KEY.

Meat shouldn’t touch anything—other than the surface it’s sitting on, of course—while it’s cooking. Other meat and the sides of the cooker are both a no-no. It needs to have space around it for airflow.

8. STAY AWAY FROM GROCERY STORE LOGS.

Prefer smoking meat over wood fires to charcoal? It may be convenient to use the firewood sold in your local grocery store, but it doesn’t produce the best results. Craigslist and the classifieds, Franklin argues, are better options for those serious about finding logs for their bbq.

9. USE ALUMINUM FOIL AS A GRILL BRUSH.

If you’re not quite so serious about the craft of barbecue, to the point where you don’t have all the tools on-hand, don’t worry. In place of a grill brush, you can just “crumple a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

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