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Leave meat alone when grilling

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

For some grilled meats I'm told "Don't touch it; just let it cook on one side and then turn it." For other meats, I'm told to keep turning while grilling. Which meats and poultry should be left alone and which ones should be turned frequently?

A: We can't think of many kinds of fish or meat that appreciate being continually interrupted while they're cooking. The advice to leave it alone is worth making your rule of thumb. It's all about developing a good sear, getting attractive grill marks and reducing sticking.

You'll want to sear steaks on high heat on both sides and get them off the grill in short order so as not to overcook. Cook chicken over indirect heat and turn it; you'll turn it again after you baste it with any sauces toward the end of cooking. Really, that's an example of the only justification for micromanaging meat on the grill: when you want to adjust the cooking temperature, either to slow or speed cooking.

Beyond chicken, this is a consideration for larger cuts of meat and roasts. Build a fire or use your gas grill to set up more than one zone of heat, ideally three: Use the hottest zone to sear meat, medium to cook it and coolest to keep it warm if need be before serving.

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