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5 summer grilling tips from a BBQ expert

Danielle Bennett poses while cooking her "Filipino Style-Stuffed Pork Belly", a recipe in her cookbook "Diva Q's Barbecue," at the Dickson Barbecue Centre in Toronto, Wednesday May 18, 2016.
Danielle Bennett poses while cooking her "Filipino Style-Stuffed Pork Belly", a recipe in her cookbook "Diva Q's Barbecue," at the Dickson Barbecue Centre in Toronto, Wednesday May 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Barbecue expert Danielle Bennett offers some of her top tips of the trade for success on the grill:

1. A clean grill is a safe grill

Since all grills differ, read the owner’s manual for recommendations for yours. Do a full inspection, checking hoses and lines to be sure there are no cracks and that no rodents have moved in over the winter. Grates should be cleaned to prevent buildup of bacteria, which could be transferred to the next food you cook.

2. Tools

Pitch the fork that’s included in most commercially sold barbecue kits, says Bennett. The sharp points pierce whatever you’re grilling, allowing precious moisture to escape. Bennett prefers gloved hands or long heavy-duty tongs to move around charcoal and meats. Use one set of tongs for raw foods and another for cooked to avoid transferring bacteria. Similarly, don’t place cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat.

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3. Lube job

The more you oil your grill, the more non-stick it becomes. Bennett uses an inexpensive bar cloth folded accordion-style, tied in the centre with kitchen twine, then doubled over. She dips it in oil and rubs it over the grates. Because the oil soaks into the cloth, she’s not dripping copious amounts over live fire, causing flareups. The cloth can be washed and reused. Bennett recommends canola and sunflower oil for their higher smoke point rather than olive oil.

4. Hold the sauce…until the end

One of the biggest mistakes people make is applying sweet sugary sauce at the beginning of the cooking process. If you add it too early it’s more likely to burn. Instead, brush it on during the last five to 10 minutes of cooking.

5. No peeking 

Keep the grill lid closed. If you’re looking, you’re not cooking. Each time the lid is raised, heat escapes and your food will take longer to cook.

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