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common grilling mistakes, san diego rv resort

Five Common Grilling Mistakes And How To Stop Making Them

Learn from the best.

All across the country, friends and families are gathering together in celebration of prime grilling season.

In an effort to help our San Diego RV Resort guests enjoy perfect cookouts all Summer, we are offering “Five Common Grilling Mistakes” to avoid, courtesy of grill master Clint Cantwell of

Bring the Heat

The guests have arrived and it’s time to get the grill going.  All too often, though, that means building a massive charcoal fire or turning the burners to high and getting the grill as hot as humanly possible.  While an extra hot grill is perfect for certain dishes such as searing a steak, it’s also the reason that so many grilling parties feature a significant amount of overcooked, and often charred, food.  Instead, build a two-zone fire by placing the majority of coals on one side of the grill, thereby allowing you to move food to the cooler side if it’s cooking too quickly.

Making the Cut

You’ve purchased the most delicious looking steaks from the store, seasoned them just right, and then grill them to perfection only to cut in to them to “check for doneness.”  Not only does cutting into a steak (or chicken for that matter) release tasty juices from the meat, it also makes for a less-than-perfect presentation due to the big old slice you’ve made.  To avoid making the cut, invest in a good instant read thermometer such as the Thermapen from ThermoWorks that will allow you to grill steaks and other meats to the desired degree of doneness.

Skip the Soak

Smoking woods such as cherry, hickory, apple, and pecan are a wonderful way to add an extra depth of flavor to meat, fish, and other food cooked on the grill.  Yet as popular as they are, so too is the belief that the wood should be soaked prior to adding it to the grill in order to keep it from burning.  In reality, the water does absolutely nothing to enhance the cooking process as the water simply creates steam as the wood dries out, thereby delaying the flavorful smoke that you are looking for.  Equally, long soaking times actually result in very little water penetration.   When using wood chunks, simply place 2-3 fist-sized chunks (5-6 if smaller) on the preheated charcoal.  For wood chips, extend the smoke time by creating what I refer to as a smoke bomb, wrapping a handful of chips in foil and poking several holes in the foil before placing it on the charcoal.

Getting Sauced

When it comes to backyard cookouts, countless grillers stick fast to the belief that it is best to sauce meat early and often.  While barbecue sauces add that sticky sweet element we all love when it comes to grilled chicken, pork, and beef, they also contain large amounts of sugar and other sweeteners that cause them to quickly burn over direct heat. The next time you grill, apply the sauce near the end of the cooking process. Brush the top side of the meat, cover the grill, and allow the sauce to set for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the meat and repeat before removing it from the grill and serving.

Fight the Flare

Flare-ups are an all too common issue when cooking over a live fire as oil from marinades and/or fat dripping from the meat catches fire in the coals.  While it’s not uncommon to see grill masters reach for a water-filled spray bottle to tame the flames, in reality, the water will not only compound the problem as the water will merely spread the burning fat and cause more flames but will also stir up a cloud of non-appetizing ash.  Instead, utilize the grill lid and vents to cut off the oxygen flow and thereby tame the flames.