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Up Your Grilling Game With These Tips and Hacks

July is National Grilling Month. Why not invite family and friends over for a cookout to celebrate?

A natural gas grill

While the idea of a barbecue sounds fun, you might feel that your grilling skills aren’t up to the task. To help, Walton Gas offers this handy cheat sheet filled with cooking tricks to elevate your grilling game.

So, turn on your natural gas grill and get those tongs ready. Let’s cook!

1. Apply rub in advance.

If you're using a seasoning rub, apply it to meat about an hour before grilling, suggests Johnny Trigg, two-time grand champion of the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational barbecue competition. Trigg recommends using equal parts salt, pepper, granulated garlic and grilled onion for a flavorful rub.

2. Allow steaks to reach room temperature.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay says steaks should be removed from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you plan to grill them. Grilling steaks at room temperature will allow for an even cook.

3. Start with the right gear.

Have these tools on hand for easy — and safe — grilling: tongs for the meat; two spatulas, one for raw meat and one for cooked meat; a meat thermometer to check doneness for cuts that are harder to gauge and a brush for applying sauces.

4. Make a brick press.

Achieve an even cook on cuts like butterflied chicken breasts with this easy trick from seriouseats.com: Wrap a brick in foil. Place it over direct heat for 5-10 minutes to warm. Then, place the wrapped brick on top of meat to flatten it and ensure even contact with the grilling grate.

5. Add ice or butter for juicy burgers.

Avoid a dried-out, hard-to-swallow hamburger by adding an ice cube or pat of butter to the center of the ground meat patty. Cover it with more meat. As the ice or butter melts, it'll keep the interior moist.

6. Spiral cut hotdogs.

To evenly cook a hotdog, skewer it and roll as make a spiral cut. Not only does the cut look cool, you’ll have more crevices to hold condiments, advises firstwefeast.com.

7. Pre-cook meat.

If you’re pressed for time, pre-cook meat most of the way through by microwaving or boiling it. Then, throw it on the grill to finish cooking and impart the look and flavor of a fully grilled cut.

8. Add flavor with juice.

For ribs, chicken or pork, add in some sweet flavor by periodically spraying it with 100 percent apple juice, suggests pit master Johnny Trigg. In addition to flavor, it improves color and tenderness.

9. Avoid stuck fish with citrus slices.

To prevent fish from sticking on the grill, Martha Stewart suggests placing some citrus slices directly on top of your grill and laying the fish on top of the slices. This will prevent sticking as well as infuse your fish with extra flavor.

10. Use a skillet.

If you own a cast-iron skillet, don’t leave it inside when you grill. It is perfect for distributing heat, and is great for foods that tend to fall apart like fish.

11. Flip meat only once.

Flipping repeatedly causes a lot of natural juices to fall off the meat, explains grill master Nicole Davenport. Cook one side fully then flip it over and let the other side do its thing.

12. Get perfect grill marks.

To get those professional-looking, diamond-shaped grill marks, barbequelovers.com says to think of the grill as a clock and angle your meat towards 10 o'clock. Cook the meat about halfway through, then flip it and angle it towards 2 o'clock.

13. Use two skewers.

To prevent little pieces of meat and veggies from rotating around a skewer, stab them with two skewers. Your food won’t rotate, so it will flip easily and cook more evenly. Plus, it’s easier to eat, advises thechefwithredshoes.com.

14. Know when to add sauce.

Don’t add sweet barbecue sauce until your meat is almost fully cooked. If a sweet sauce is cooked too long, it will burn. If it’s a non-sugary marinade, you can baste meat as often as you like.

15. Remove meat right before it’s done.

Meat continues cooking after you take it off the grill because there's a lot of heat trapped inside it. Remove meat from the grill about a minute or two before it’s done to get the desired cook. If you wait until the food looks done, it’s likely to be overcooked and tough.

16. Let meat rest.

For extra flavor and moisture, let meat rest for 10 minutes under a loose foil tent to help keep it warm and moist —so it can soak up its juices evenly.

17. Label buns.

To easily know remember how everyone wants their burger cooked, label buns with ketchup before you begin grilling.

Use these grilling hacks compiled by your friends at Walton Gas to prepare flavorful fare quickly. You’ll spend less time hovering over your grill and more time visiting with family, friends or neighbors. Your guests will think you’re a grilling pro!

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