What’s the secret to great grilling? That’s what our food reporter, Linda Gassenheimer, asked grilling expert Elizabeth Karmel, author of Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned. Karmel’s strategies…

Put barbecue sauce on during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Most barbecue sauces contain sugar, which burns if put on sooner than that.

Soak the food, not the grill grates, with oil. In this way, food is less likely to stick to the grates and dry out. Use olive oil. It is thicker than other oils, so it is less likely to drip and cause flare-ups.

Sprinkle the food with salt just before cooking if your marinade, sauce or rub doesn’t have salt in it. Many people forget this step, and it makes a big difference in flavor.

Here, simple recipes from Karmel…

Classic French Marinade

This zippy, full-flavored marinade is great on steak, pork and chicken. Marinate for 30 minutes to two hours before cooking.

1 7.5-ounce jar Dijon mustard
2 cups white wine
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 to 5 scallions, cleaned and chopped

Heat a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, and add mustard and wine and whisk until smooth. Add the melted butter, sea salt, ground black pepper and scallions, and mix until the salt is dissolved. Cook, whisking occasionally, for two to three minutes. The marinade will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to two days. Makes 3? cups.

Three-Ingredient Rub

This rub has so much flavor that all the raw meat or fish needs is a coating of olive oil before sprinkling the rub on and adding salt. Great on flank steak, pork, chicken and salmon.

2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The rub will keep in an airtight container for up to six months. Makes 1½ tablespoons (enough for a two-to-three-pound flank steak).

Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze

This sweet and hot glaze spices up fish, shrimp, scallops, vegetables and chicken. You can brush it on right after the food is taken off the grill or in the last two minutes of cooking.

1 12-ounce jar hot pepper jelly
2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Pinch of red chile flakes, optional
Pinch of salt

Put hot pepper jelly in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over low heat. Melt the jelly, stirring occasionally until it is smooth, making sure it doesn’t burn.

When the jelly is melted, add the vinegar and stir to combine. Add the chile flakes, if desired, and salt, and stir again. If the glaze is too thick, add a bit more vinegar. Mix and taste. Adjust the seasoning, if desired.

You can use the glaze warm, or let it cool and transfer it to a clean glass jar. The glaze will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week, but it will need to be reheated before using. Makes 1? cups.


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