The Grilling Advice Ray 'Dr. BBQ' Lampe Swears By

For many novice cooks, grilling can be a little intimidating. After all, you can't just easily set a temperature like you can in the oven, and know that your food will cook steadily at that particular temperature until it's ready. Grills are a bit more temperamental, especially if you've selected a charcoal grill rather than a gas grill. Luckily, there are plenty of experts and pit masters out there who are willing to share their advice and tips gathered over the years, including Ray 'Dr. BBQ' Lampe. The cook, who is a member of the BBQ Hall of Fame, shared several mistakes with Food & Wine that many novice grillers make, from burning the BBQ sauce to over-smoking the meat. 

However, there's one particular piece of advice that he swears by, and it's incredibly simple to follow — don't rush the process. Though you might assume this mantra only applies to larger cuts of meat that need to be cooked low and slow on the BBQ, it actually applies to just about anything you would consider tossing on the grill. Even for cuts of meat that are incredibly quick to cook, like steaks, you want time for all those flavors to really infuse the meat. Whether you're using a marinade, dry rub, or brine mixture, you need to allow a bit of time for those flavors and the meat to "get to know each other," as Lampe says.

Getting ready to grill and cooking meats that require a bit more time

Whether you're tossing a quick cooking steak or shish kebabs on the BBQ, there's another important time element to build into your process — preheating (via Food & Wine). Yes, just as you would allow your oven to preheat before putting a roast in, you need your grill to fully preheat so that it's ready for whatever you're going to cook on it. This applies across the board, whether you're using a gas grill or a charcoal grill, metal or ceramic. So, however long you think your cut of meat will take to cook, add on a bit of extra time for the preheating process.

Finally, if you're tackling a larger cut of meat that really does take a lot longer on the grill, you probably want to bump up your time estimate by a couple hours. You think those ribs will take three or four hours, but according to Lampe, you're looking at more like five to six. Cuts like pork shoulder or brisket are an all-day affair, and Lampe suggests that they be on the BBQ for 14 hours or even more. Ultimately, while grilling can make for a quick and easy meal, the meal you create will be much, much better if you just add a little time into the equation.