1. Use an instaread meat thermometer. This is for indoor and outdoor cooks. It helps to ensure meat reaches the proper temperature and takes the guesswork out of cooking larger items like whole poultry and prime rib.
2. Start with the easier stuff. Once you’re comfortable grilling veggies, hot dogs and hamburgers, move on to steaks and ribs. When you master those, take on chicken parts, and once you’re a barbecued chicken expert, try your hand at whole chickens, turkeys and prime rib.
3. Think of your grill as an outdoor oven. Anything you can do in the oven you can do on the grill. Take inspiration from recipes for indoor cooking. You can buy special grill pans to cook everything from paella to shrimp scampi to jalapeno poppers.
4. Throw away your fork. Even though a big fork came with that Williams-Sonoma barbecue kit, get rid of it. Forks pierce the meat and release the juices. Better yet, skip the fancy set entirely and head to a kitchen supply store for a big, solid spatula and a pair of sturdy tongs, the only tools you really need.
5. Don’t move the meat. When cooking steak, don’t flip it over constantly and move it around. Set it on the grill and leave it alone! Cook it three quarters of the way on one side to get a good sear, then turn it once and cook the rest of the way. If you want your steak medium-rare, take it off when the thermometer reads “rare” — you’ll need to rest it 5 to 10 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb. The meat continues to cook, so it should be perfectly medium rare when you’re ready to slice.
— B. Knutson