Say it with us: Flare-ups are not a good thing
Baseball might get all the credit, but everybody knows grilling is actually the greatest American pastime. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a glitzy gas grill owner or a charcoal loyalist who lives and dies by the chimney starter—spending the evening flipping food over flames is a fantastic way to enjoy the summer.
But as long as grilling has been a mainstay of backyard barbecues and weekend block parties, there have been a few myths circulating that trick even the best of us. Before you crown yourself king or queen of the grill, we first need to clear up the smoky confusion behind these five common misconceptions.
Myth #1: Using a Grill Fork Will Cause Your Meat to Lose All Its Juices
Despite how savage it may seem, puncturing your grilled tenderloin releases only the bare minimum of juices. (Think about it: If the opposite were true, anything you’ve used a needle tenderizer on would end up like a wrung-out towel.)
Myth#2: Flare-Ups Are a Good Thing
We don’t deny how cool it is to watch a column of fire consume our kebabs. But those flames, which are caused by combustible dripping fat, give food a scorched, ashy flavor and color. Either move your food to the cooler side of the grill to let the flames die down or keep a spray bottle handy (pro tip: filled with a flavorful liquid like stock or a marinade) to tame the fire.
Myth #3: Gas Grills Are Flavorless
Don’t let charcoal snobs get in the way of your preference for convenience—a gas grill makes it possible to easily fire up the barbie post-work on a Wednesday. If you need an extra flavor boost, plop a foil packet of wood chips and aromatic herbs under the grates and on top of the metal plates shielding the burners, and punch a few holes in it (using your now-vindicated grill fork). Over time, the heat will release vapors to help flavor your food.
Myth #4: You Should Flip Your Meat Only Once
Fidgety cooks can rest easy: Despite what conventional grilling wisdom might say, flipping your food constantly is a good thing, as it ensures both sides are constantly being exposed to heat, meaning your food cooks both faster and more evenly.
Myth #5: You Have to Let Your Meat Come to Room Temperature
As Serious Eats points out, even after a few hours sitting on the counter, most cuts of meat will warm up only by an extremely negligible amount, to the point where you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between something that was pulled straight from the fridge and something left to temper. As a plus, taking thinner cuts of meat straight from the icebox to the grill also adds extra security in making sure the inside doesn’t overcook.