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Grilling the perfect steak is as much a badge of honor as it is a flavorful summer meal. However, many backyard grillers end up with dry, chewy meat caused by high temperatures and improper technique. If you want to polish your skills as a meat master, start by learning these grilling basics that will make your next cookout legendary.

Room Temperature Rules

Taking the meat straight from the refrigerator to the grill is convenient, but it also has some drawbacks. First, the steak takes a lot longer to cook because it has to warm up once you place it on the grill. Secondly, cold meat is firm and doesn’t absorb marinades, sauces or seasoning very well. Aim to leave the steak out for 15 to 20 minutes before you toss it on the grill. Don’t leave it out any longer to prevent harmful bacteria from starting to grow.

Season Early

Properly seasoning the meat before placing it on the grill is the key to getting fantastic flavor. Many people make the mistake of applying seasoning right before placing the meat on the grill. This doesn’t give the seasoning time to soak in and most of it ends up on the grates. Instead, apply salt, pepper and spices at least 15 minutes before placing the meat on the grill.

Get it Hot

If you’re using a gas grill, make sure that you have plenty of propane gas and fire it up at least 10 minutes before you plan to cook the meat. Charcoal grills take a little more work and need at least 20 to 30 minutes to heat up before grilling.

Hands Off

Once you place the meat on the grill, step away and put the tongs down. Do not flip the meat until it cooks halfway through. Check this by looking at the side of the meat and determining how much pink color remains. Once the meat cooks halfway through, flip it over once. Constantly flipping the meat dries it out and creates uneven cooking.

Let it Rest

Once the meat cooks fully, move it from the grill to a plate and set the plate in a warm location. Leave it alone for approximately five minutes to allow the internal juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you slice into the meat without letting it rest, the juice will spill out onto the plate, resulting in a dry consistency.

Bon appétit!