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Food · July 1, 2015

Smoke and Mirrors: 5 BBQ Tricks and Tips that Will Make You an Instant Grillmaster

1. Make a DIY Smoker

Why spend hundreds on a smoker when you can make one for five bucks? If you have a gas or charcoal grill, you can concoct your own metal smoker box by making a double-layered pouch of aluminum foil. Just stuff the foil pouch with pre-soaked wood chips (so they dont burn up right away), then throw them on the coal or flame, and put the meat on the other side of the grill (away from the heat).

2. Try a Science Experiment

It sometimes takes up to 12 hours to slow cook barbecue on the grill, and itll turn into jerky if you do it at too high a temperature. Keep your meat from drying out by putting a pan of water underneath it; the evaporation will add moisture without compromising texture or flavor. This will also give the meat added smoky flavor.

3. Marinate in Moderation

Many people assume that, the longer you marinate something, the better it will taste. This is not true. First of all, marinade will never soak in past the thin outer layer of the meat. Secondly, since the acid of the marinade effectively cooks the outer layer in advance (think ceviche), the surface in turn dries out on the grill much faster. Heres a good rule of thumb: Chicken and fish have lighter muscles, so they need less time in the sauce (an hour or two, tops), while denser pork, beef, and game can soak overnight if need be.

4. Have a Steak Strategy

There is no quicker way to impress someone with your grilling prowess than with a hot-off-the-flame steakand no quicker way to put a hole in your wallet. The good news is that the most expensive choice is usually not your best one. Avoid the top cuts like filet mignon and sirloin (theyre often too lean for the grill and end up drying out) and instead look for a thick rib eye with nice flecks of white fat throughout the meat, rather than just around the edge. When grilling a thick steak, sear both sides over the flame, then move the steak over an unheated portion of the grill and close the lid to let it bake for a bitotherwise youll end up with a black-and-blue steak thats charred on the outside but raw on the inside.

5. Finish Strong

Dont be afraid to use the competitive BBQers crutchaluminum foil and liquidat the end of a long smoking day. There is no better finishing move for a dried-out pork shoulder, ribs, or brisket than wrapping it all up in a couple layers of aluminum foil with BBQ sauce or apple juice, and letting it stew in its own juices to tenderize for an hour before serving. (You can even wrap the whole thing in a beach towel, and put it inside a cooler to maximize the effect.)


Adam Hurly