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Common Grilling Mistakes

Lawrence Schillinger maintains a law practice in Albany, New York, and possesses more than two decades of experience in matters of environmental compliance and government relations. In his leisure time, Lawrence Schillinger engages in numerous hobbies and is an avid fan of outdoor grilling.

For many, one of the most enjoyable (and competitive) forms of cooking is grilling. There are national contests each year to determine the best grillmasters, and this cooking technique is one of the most beloved among those ranging from artisan chefs to novice cooks. Beginners at the grill, however, can sometimes make missteps. Below are two common mistakes that novice grillers should try to avoid.

Don’t use match-light coals or lighter fluid to start up the fire. It can be tempting to use these tools to get a flame going quickly, and there’s no shortage of these products found in grilling aisles at stores. These quick fixes are not helpful, though, because no sooner than the fire bursts to life, it subsides and often dies. Worse yet, any food that made it onto the grill tastes like gasoline. Instead of using these products, place coals on top of crumpled newspaper. Then, set the newspaper on fire, which will in turn light the coals.

Another mistake beginners make is failing to preheat the grill. Once the fire is going, one should wait at least 15 minutes before putting anything on the grill to avoid cooking foods when the temperature isn’t high enough. For low-and-slow cooking, aim for a temperature of about 200 degrees before putting food on the grill. For normal foods, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, etc., temperatures in the 300-400 degree range should be adequate.

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