Six Rules of Open-Fire Cooking

Here's what you need to know before firing up the grill.

Fire Up the Grill

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1. Clean up. Use a stiff wire brush to clean the grill before and after grilling.

2. Oil up. Before starting the fire, take a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil and swab it across the grill’s surface.

3. Heat up. Cooking on a cool grill will result in dull, gray, rubbery meat. Give it about 10-15 minutes to heat up before cooking, or use Raichlen’s finger test: It’s hot when you can hold your bare hand 6 inches over the grill for no more than three seconds.

4. Don’t poke. Always use tongs or a spatula to turn the meat. Puncturing with a fork drains precious juices.

5. Give it a rest. When the meat comes off the grill, let it stand for a few minutes before carving. “This allows juices to return to the surface,” says Raichlen.

6. Never desert your post. Do not answer the phone, run to grab a beer, change the oil in your car, or do anything else to distract yourself from the job at hand. In this, modern man can take a lesson from ape-guy: Walk away from the fire and dinner’s going to get tough. A person’s jaw can get sore just thinking about it!

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