Memorial Day. July 4th. Labor Day. Heck, maybe even Thanksgiving if the weather is exceptionally balmy.

In America, holiday weekends mean just one thing: time to grill! After all, It’s just not a party unless there’s meat sizzling over charcoal.

But anyone can grill. It’s rarer to find someone who can grill like a master, who knows every tip, trick, and grilling hack in the book. If you want to dazzle your guests at your holiday BBQ, here are some pro tips you need to add to your repertoire.

1. Keep Food From Sticking to the Grill

Left Eye has a quick, easy, and flavorful hack that helps to prevent food from sticking to the grill, while also imparting additional flavor to the meats or fish you are preparing.

Left Eye’s advice specifically related to fresh salmon, but can be used for other foods as well: “Cut two pieces of a large onion and cook a small fillet between it. It will keep the fish from sticking to the grill without using a ton of oil. It helps keep the fish moist and tells you when to flip it — when the bottom onion is cooked through.”

2. Avoid Carcinogens

The website Healthcare Hacks warns fans of the holiday weekend BBQ that backyard grilling can be bad for your health.

When red meat is cooked over high temperatures, this “results in the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCA), which have been found to be carcinogenic in animal models, and may increase a person’s risk for numerous forms of cancer…When grilled meat is cooked to the point of char-broiling, it can lead to the formation of something even worse: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). PAHs are the same cancer-causing compounds found in tobacco smoke.”

So how do you avoid the formation of these carcinogenic compounds?

Well, there are two schools of thought, but they both come down to added flavors.

The team at Healthcare Hacks suggests that certain spices contain known antioxidants that reduce levels of HCA in cooked meats, sometimes by as much as 40% when they are added before cooking.

“The spices in question include cumin, coriander seed, galangal, fingerroot, rosemary, and turmeric,” they explained. “The last three had the highest level of HCA-inhibiting activity, with rosemary being the most effective.”

Left Eye suggests that you “marinade any protein (meat, chix, fish, etc.) for at least 15-minutes before throwing it on the grill. A quick dunk in simple sodium solution will reduce HCAs — cancerous byproducts of searing by almost 90%.”

A related article on Shine adds, “Marinating can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92 to 99 percent, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). One study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that marinating red meat in beer or wine for two hours significantly reduced HCAs. “

3. Give Your Grill Plenty of Time to Preheat

You need to preheat your grill before cooking on it for best results; a hot grill will cook food faster and more evenly.

The amount of time that you should be preheating your grill depends entirely on what sort of fuel you prefer. If you’re rocking a gas grill, 15 minutes should suffice. However, if you are using charcoal briquets or hardwood chips, up that time to a full half hour for best results.

Oh, and make sure you keep that lid on tight while you’re preheating. Otherwise, all the heat will escape.

4. Don’t Squander The Residual Heat

The grill is gonna stay warm for quite a while after you turn it off, and it’s a shame to not take advantage of that residual heat. One great tactic is to keep burgers, dogs, buns, and other nibbles on the covered grill to keep them warm.

Another use for a hot grill is for making desserts. Try campfire favorites like S’mores (laid out over a foil-covered grill) or a banana boat: cut a banana (in the peel) lengthwise, stuff it with marshmallows and chocolate chips, and wrap the whole thing up in aluminum foil. Leave it on the grill, and 30 minutes or so later, you’ll have an ooey gooey treat that will get the kids out of your hair and take very little effort.

Do you have any grilling hacks or tips? Share them in the comments below!

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