- Store charcoal in a dry place. Charcoal absorbs moisture readily and won't burn well if it is damp.
- Open top and bottom vents before starting a charcoal grill and while cooking. Close the vents when cooking is finished to extinguish the coals.
- For proper airflow in a charcoal grill, remove accumulated ashes from the bottom before starting fire. Since charcoal requires oxygen to burn, anything blocking the vents will reduce the heat generated by the coals.
- Always use tongs or a spatula when handling meat. Piercing meat with a fork allows delicious juices to escape and makes the meat less moist.
- If you partially cook food in the microwave or on the range, immediately finish cooking the food on the grill. Do not refrigerate or let stand at room temperature before cooking on the grill.
- Make sure the grilling surface is clean and preheated. Scrub the grid with a dry brass-bristled grill brush after every grilling session and again once the grill is preheated.
- Lubricate the grid or the food (or both) with vegetable oil. Do this right before you begin cooking or the oil will burn off before you start. It's also a good idea to drain most of the marinade from food before placing it on the grill.
- Don't try to turn or move food too soon. It takes about 10 minutes over high heat for the surface of a steak or piece of fish to cook enough so it will hold together and release easily.
- Watch foods carefully during grilling. Total cooking time will vary with the type of food, position on the grill, weather, temperature of the coals, and the degree of doneness that you desire.
- Set a timer to remind you when it's time to check the food on the grill.
- Never brush on barbecue sauce until the food is almost cooked through. It contains sugar, which burns easily.
- Always serve cooked food from the grill on a clean plate, not one that held raw foods.
- In hot weather, food should never sit out for over one hour. Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Wash all utensils, cutting boards, and containers with hot, soapy water after they have been in contact with uncooked meat.
- Extend the life of your charcoal grill by thoroughly cleaning it once a year. Discard accumulated ashes and remove the grid and charcoal grates. Spray the porcelain surface with oven cleaner and let stand until the accumulated grease is softened. Wipe out with paper towels. Wash with a mild detergent and water; rinse and wipe dry.
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