Three Must Know Grilling Tips – Contributed by Kent Whitaker

Outdoor cooking is more than just whipping up a meal! Today the art of grilling, or slow smoking barbecue, is often considered family time! According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) 75% of all adults in the United States own a grill or smoker!

That means that there are a whole bunch of people firing up charcoal, gas, wood, and pellets! It also means it’s time for some easy, and tasty, grilling tips! What’s great about these tips is they apply to a small grilling session at the house, local park, a picnic, or a multi-day event such as a race weekend where camping is involved. Here are three must know grilling tips for three kinds of meat!



Steak Tip!

The art of grilling a great steak is more than tossing a cut of beef on the grill. First, if you want a tender steak – buy a tender cut! Meaning, some steaks are tougher than others. I’m a rib eye guy with chuck eye steaks close behind. Next, salt and pepper or marinade well before you grill. Let the spices do their job. Last – my personal favorite thing to do is top with a pat of butter when you flip your steak – or right before you remove it from the grill.

Chicken Tip!

The best thing to do when grilling chicken is to realize that breast meat is not as naturally fatty as dark meat such as thighs. However, don’t fear over grilling chicken and drying it out. Grill breasts, baste, turn, baste, etc. Then, check with a digital instant read thermometer – look for an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I prefer adding some nice grill marks on the breasts before moving them to an upper rack to finish cooking. When it comes to thighs – season like crazy! Thighs are loaded with flavor and adapt to a wide variety of seasoning styles.

Pork Chop Tip!

Pork chops range from lean cuts with a color like chicken to dark selections packed with added fat and flavor. The good news is that both types of pork chop cuts lend themselves perfectly to seasonings ranging from Tex-Mex to being basted with apple juice or apple butter then grilled… and everything in between. But, the tip is that you can think about pork chops in a similar manner as you would chicken. The lighter color chops would fall into the chicken breast category. Don’t over grill or you might dry them out. The dark cuts – like bone in or chops labeled as pork steaks – can be considered like chicken thighs. So, what’s the tip? Simple – season up as you see fit – but keep in mind that pork pairs up nicely with just about any fruit especially apples.


Kent’s Apple Butter Pork Chops Recipe


4 Pork Chops

½ cup Apple Butter

1 apple, diced small

½ cup pecans, chopped

Dashes of hot sauce

Pats of butter

Can of Double Cola – or your favorite – not diet.


Grab some nice, thick pork chops or pork steaks and coat them with apple butter, cover and chill. For the sauce, dice up some apples into small pieces. Then grab some chopped or crushed pecans, a Double Cola, or your favorite cola – not diet, pecans, a splash of hot sauce and a spoon full of butter. While the chops are cooking on the grill use your side burner, or cook inside, to heat the butter in a skillet.

Add in the pecans and apples to brown a bit. Then add in the coke careful not to burn yourself. It will foam up. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and allow the mix to reduce by a third before topping your chops. Be careful to not over reduce the sauce as the sugars in the sugar may turn bitter.


Kent Whitaker is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He is the winner of the Emeril Live BBQ contest and winner of an American Authors Association Gold medal. Kent’s books are in bookstores nationwide and are available online. Kent lives in Chattanooga with his wife, son and two crazy dogs. Visit him online at or twitter @thekentwhitaker .

Three Essential Grilling Tips Plus an Apple Butter Pork Chop Recipe