Summer is officially on and popping. Do you have your grilling game ready? Check out these expert tips from Chef John Rivers of Orlando’s 4 Rivers Smokehouse and get ready to impress your barbecue guests!

1. For best grilling results, preheat your grill with the lid closed for 15 to 30 minutes prior to cooking. In addition to assuring a consistently cooked piece of meat, the hot grate will also loosen up any debris from the last grilling that should be brushed off prior to placing the new meat on the grill. 

2. To assure a consistent cooking temperature throughout your meat, allow the meat to rest (covered) at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes prior to placing on the hot grill. For larger cuts such as brisket, or whole pork shoulder, allow 30 to 45 minutes. 

3. To prevent meat from sticking to the grill, rub the grate with vegetable oil prior to lighting or simply spray it with PAM.

4. Remember, meats continue to cook even after removed from the grill. If you are cooking to a specific internal temperature, allow for an additional increase of 5 to 10 degrees after you’ve removed the meat from the grill. 

5. For best results, allow your grilled meat to sit covered or “rest” at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes after removing from the grill. This allows the juices to recollect and settle into the meat and produced a more succulent result. For larger cuts of meat such as brisket or a pork shoulder or butt, wrap the cooked meat in cellophane and place in a cooler with the lid closed for at least an hour and up to three to assure best results. 

6. You can tell with when a rib is done by how much the meat pulls back from the ends of the rib bone on both sides of the rib. This happens as the moisture is cooked out of the rib and the meat naturally pulls back or constricts to create a concentration of flavor and moisture. Depending on the type or size of rib, a half to a full inch of exposed bone is your target. If you’ve kept your meat low and cooked it slow, then you should have a nice dark color on the outside of what will be a moist rib.    

7. Pork and apple do great together. Fill a clean spray bottle with apple juice and spray your cut of pork (ribs, chop, shoulder or Boston butt), from time to time while cooking. The flavor combination is fantastic. 

8. Once your ribs or chicken is cooked to the desired internal temperature, remove from the heat and liberally baste the meat with 4R Barbecue Sauce. Increase the heat of the grill to high and quickly flash each side of meat on the very hot grate to sear in the flavor (30 seconds per side). The high heat will cause the sugar in the sauce to caramelize and seal in the juices while creating a sweet and crunchy outer crust that your guests are sure to enjoy.