With the official start of summer on June 21st, it's also the start of grilling season. So grab your tongs and your favorite veggies, meats and marinades -- your summer soirees will thank you.
We had a chance to sit down with celebrity chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay to chat all things grilling, summer cooking, and his secret weapon in the summer (spoiler: it's tea!). And when you speak with an expert like Flay, you take notes.
Our biggest takeaway? The mistake far too many of us make while grilling.
"The number one mistake is that people grill too much," he explained, "they flip and turn, flip and turn, flip and turn... Guys often do this -- they think that to grill you have to constantly be in action, but really you need to let the grill do its job."
So what does he recommend? Just walk away.
"I always tell people -- especially if it's steak or a burger -- you really want to let it cook on one side and leave it alone. Go get yourself an iced tea! And then come back and after it's nice and crusty on one side, then just flip it once."
And speaking of iced tea, Flay is currently partnering with Lipton to help people turn summer meals into memorable ones with unexpected flavors. For his part, Flay loves to not just drink tea ("I'm an iced tea guy. As soon as it gets warm out I gravitate towards it, so it's a really easy partnership for me.") but to cook with it, too.
"It creates a really good contrast," He explained, "certain flavors are tart and sweet, and that particular iced tea fortifies the flavor. For example, the newest one is a Mango Iced Tea, and so I can marinade something in the tea, and then make a mango salsa to carry the flavor through."
Below, see a recipe Bobby created with Lipton for Lipton Lemon Iced Tea Brined Brick Grilled Chicken (Um, yep. YUM.)
2 cups Lipton Lemon Iced Tea
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ small Spanish onion, chopped
1 small lemon, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
12 sprigs fresh lemon thyme (or regular thyme)
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Grilled lemon, for serving
Brick wrapped in foil
Whisk together Lipton Lemon Iced Tea, sugar, salt, pepper, onion, lemon, garlic, rosemary, thyme in a bowl.
Put the chicken in a large zip bag, pour the marinade over, press out the air and seal tightly. Marinate chicken in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
Thirty minutes before grilling, remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry on both sides and let sit at room temperature.
Heat the grill to high or a grill pan over high heat. Brush the chicken on both sides with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides with brick on top until golden brown, charred and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with grilled lemon, if desired.
So what are you waiting for? Let's get grilling. Just don't forget to leave your steak alone while it cooks... Bobby Flay will be proud!
Related: More grilling mistakes you don't want to make
15 Biggest Grilling Mistakes
15 Biggest Grilling Mistakes
A Dirty Grill
Just make sure to clean the grill after each use. It needs to be clean every time you plan to use it. Hot grates are easier to clean so try brushing the grates immediately after removing the food.
Forgetting to Prepare Ingredients
Make a checklist so you don't forget any ingredients. Ensure that all the ingredients are chopped, mixed and ready to be cooked.
No need to get fancy with your cooking tools, but make sure to have a few key ones to ensure a great barbecue. Bon Appetit recommends keeping around long-handled tongs, a long-handled spatula and several kitchen towels.
Too Much Sauce Immediately
Sauces and glazes are meant to give the meat additional flavor, but if you add the sauces too soon in the cooking process, you could risk burning the food. Most glazes and sauces contain sugars, which are more likely to burn.
Not Using A Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer will help you to accurately gauge the temperature of the meat. It's fine to cut open the chicken to check its status, but the meal will ultimately look better if you haven't chopped away at the food.
Grilling Cold Food
If you're cooking frozen meats, make sure to let them thaw out. Tossing a frozen steak onto a hot grill is a sure way to burn your dinner. Men's Health suggests letting roasts, steaks, chops and even veggies rest outside the fridge for at least 15 to 20 minutes. That's how long it should take to heat up the grill anyhow.
Pressing On Burgers
To keep burgers from getting dry, do not press on them. Pressing on burgers releases all the tasty juices. Instead, let the burger sit and grill until it gets a grill mark and then flip it only one time. Men's Health recommends adding two tablespoons of ice water per pound of burger mixture to get a juicier burger or try using meat with at least 15 percent fat.
As much as you season meat on the outside, it's hard to get the flavor to reach the inside. To avoid this problem, create a "board dressing." Try mixing six tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of fresh flat-leaf parsley with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Let the meat rest on the board and flip it once. Then, when you cut the meat, the juices will combine with the board dressing and enhance the taste. Season the meat once again before serving.
Rushing The Meat
Thick cuts of meat need to rest, at least for a few minutes, before being served. The rest allows the proteins to firm and helps the meat to seal in all the delicious flavors. Ideally, the meat should cool down to an internal temperature of 120 degrees before being cut. That can take anywhere from five minutes to twenty.
Not Grilling Fatty Foods Over Flames
Placing fatty foods like pork, beef and chicken over an open flame helps to char the outside of the meat while cooking the inside.
Cooking Veggies on The Open Flame
Vegetables should be grilled near the open flame to give them a smoky flavor, but vegetables definitely do not belong on top of the flame.
Covering The Grill
When cooking with direct heat, never cover the grill. Closing the grill makes acrid smoke build up, which will end up negatively affecting the taste of the food. That applies to grilled burgers, chicken and steaks. Covering the grill with a lid is fine for indirect grilling, according to Bon Appetit.
Walking Away from the Grill
Leaving the grill completely unattended is a big no-no. First of all, this is a safety hazard and second, you could easily burn your food. Ask a friend to bring you a drink so you don't have to leave your grilling station.
Putting Cooked Meat Where Raw Meat Was
Never put cooked meat on the same plate as the raw meat because germs from the raw meat can transfer to the cooked. Put all the raw meat together on one plate and then keep a separate clean plate for the cooked meat.
Grilling Wet Food
It's smart to rinse chicken breasts before cooking them, but make sure to dry the meat off a bit before tossing it on to the grill. Food doesn't brown until it reaches about 250 degrees and water only reaches 212 degrees before evaporating, which will cause steam.