Are You Committing These Grilling Sins?

A guest post by Melissa Cortina, Founder & Chief Butcher at Bavette Meats & Provisions.

Melissa Cortina, Founder & Chief Butcher at Bavette Meat & Provisions, has a few words of wisdom for us all when it comes to grilling meat this 4th of July – or any other day of the year. If you’re guilty of one (or all) of these so-called grilling sins, you’re not alone. Most of us could do with a little refresher on how to treat both our grills and the meat we so love to prepare on it.

Side Note: If you live in the Southern California area and haven’t stopped by Bavette Meat & Provisions yet, you really should. Their collection of artisan meats are outstanding – as are their homemade cottage pies. They also carry some of our meats!


The following is a guest post written by Melissa Cortina:

You! I’m looking at you grill-hoverers, under-seasoners, and overcookers. Let’s reign it in this fourth and stop making these five cardinal grilling mistakes.


Grilling Sin #1: Insisting that you can feel the doneness of a steak based on the firmness of some random spot on your palm. 

No. Use a meat thermometer. Different cuts have different textures and feels as they approach doneness. Yes, some restaurant cooks can execute this move with ease, but they’re cooking 50 steaks a night. Maybe more! Unless you’re doing that, too, stick to the thermometer, Emeril.


Grilling Sin #2: Using the temperature dial on the grill to know when it’s hot enough to cook on.

This is highly inaccurate because it represents the temperature inside the grill, not the temperature on and under the grates where the meat actually cooks. Once you open the grill, that dial goes down dramatically. Use your hand hovering over the grates to judge the heat on the grill. For a high sear, you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand close to the grates for more than a second. Obviously, if you have a smoker or a big green egg, this advice does not apply.


Grilling Sin #3: Oiling the meat and not the grill. 

Who started this nonsense? I have heard a lot of arguments against oiling the grill and the most compelling one is that the oil overheats on the grate and that is not ideal for our health. But, charred meat is apparently not great for our health either so…who are we kidding here? I have much, much better results when I oil the grill. Please don’t be that person who takes your nonstick cooking spray to the grill. Clean your grates when they’re hot with a stiff bristled brush and then dip a tightly folded non-important kitchen towel in oil. Use tongs to rub the grates with the oiled towel. Voila! Now you’re working like a professional.


Grilling Sin # 4: Overcooking your meat because you’re afraid you’ll kill everyone at your party.

You won’t. Stop overcooking the chicken! Cook to within 5-10 degrees of the ideal cooking temperature of whatever it is you’re grilling, and pull it from the heat. Allow it to rest and the temperature will continue to climb due to carryover cooking. If pulling chicken a little early makes you squeamish, at the very least pull it at 165, not 200.

Note: Melissa is referencing Chicken specifically here, but the same goes for any of your red meats like Bison, Elk, Venison, Beef, etc. For reference, here are the approximate cooking temps for steaks:

  • Rare: 110-120 degrees      
  • Medium Rare: 121-125 degrees    
  • Medium: 126-130 degrees

Grilling Sin # 5: Using the wrong tools. 

That grill kit the inlaws gave you for your birthday is not great. Avoid tongs with plastic edges, and bulky spatulas. Look for tongs like these (longer if you fear the heat), and a fish spatula like this. That’s all you need, aside from your sturdy grill brush for cleaning and your meat thermometer.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, have a happy and delicious 4th of July. If you followed these tips, let us know how things worked out. If you have some go-to grill advice of own, share it with us at community@thehonestbison.com. Click here for more cooking tips & techniques.