Break these rules for better summer grilling


— It seems like there are rules for just about everything, even grilling. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 80 percent of Americans have an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker – which means there are a lot of people following a lot of rules.

Summer is in full swing, so now is the perfect time to throw caution to the wind and break some long-standing grilling adages. Doing so will help you get the most out of your grilling – and more importantly, enjoy your food.

Russ Faulk, author of the cookbook “Cook: Out” and grill master for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, and Meathead Goldwyn, of offer four grilling rules you can break with alternative methods.

Only flip once

While many avid grillers stick by the “only flip once” rule, Faulk advises grillers to flip as often as they want.

“Especially with steaks and chops – turning more frequently can lead to more even cooking. You’ll also create an all-over browning effect rather than a simple set of grill marks. You can build up a very flavorful crust,” he says.Just don’t flip too early. Be sure to wait for the food to release itself from the grill grate.

Oil the grill grates

To prevent food from sticking, many opt for the rule of spreading oil right on the grill grates. However, this can be ineffective particularly with high-power grills that reach soaring temperatures. Instead, as Goldwyn recommends, brush oil on your food, not the grates. He explains that when the food is placed on the grill, the oil will penetrate the small crevasses in both the food and the grates, creating a smooth and slippery surface that will help to prevent sticking.

Load up the grill

It may be tempting and seemingly efficient to put as much food on the grill as possible at a big cookout with lots of people.

“Keep at least 25-30 percent of open space on the grill with no fire below it,” said Faulk. This space can be used to move food when the action heats up, which he calls the “safety zone.”

Grill the food above the fire Break this rule all you want. By mixing direct and indirect grilling – you’ll get more flavorful food.

Try out your new rule-breaking skills with this recipe from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. For more recipes, visit

Blueberry Pork Chops Servings: 4

4 pork loin chops, preferably bone-in, about 1 1/2 inches thick Extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt, plus salt for the chops 1 pint blueberries 1/2 cup maple syrup 6 ounces pancetta, cooked crisp and broken up

Preheat grill for combination direct and indirect cooking. The indirect zone should be around 500°F. While grill is heating, lightly brush chops on all sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Leave chops sitting at room temperature while grill is getting ready, up to 20 minutes. Wash blueberries and measure out other ingredients.

Grill pork chops over direct heat about 2 minutes per side and transfer to indirect cooking zone. Close grill and cook chops about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, until instant-read meat thermometer measures 155°F when inserted away from bone.

Once chops are moved to indirect zone, combine maple syrup, blueberries and smoked salt in large saucepan (although ingredients would easily fit in smaller pan, broader bottom should help reduce sauce more quickly) and bring a strong simmer over medium heat.

Stir sauce frequently and avoid a rapid boil. If bubbles begin to build on top of bubbles, lower heat to avoid burning sauce. When cooked to 155°F internal temperature, remove chops from grill and transfer to plates.

Let chops rest 3 to 5 minutes. Stir cooked pancetta into blueberry sauce.

Top chops with sauce and serve.