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_by David Draper
If you think about it, there’s an interesting paradox in the way we celebrate our parents. On Mother’s Day, we take to the kitchen and make our Mom (or our children’s mom) a special breakfast, but come Father’s Day, Dad takes to the grill like it was just another summer evening. Sure, he might fancy it up with a really fine cut of steak, rather than the standard Sunday-night hamburger, but Dad still does the cooking.

This Sunday, politely offer to take over grilling duties–though don’t be surprised if he doesn’t cede them so easily. There’s no small amount of pride in manning a fire and feeding the family, but pass Dad a cold one (or pour him a tumbler of his favorite bourbon) and make him a meal to remember. Just don’t forget these few basic tips.


1. Before Sunday rolls around, check the level on the grill’s propane tank. More than one Father’s Day feast has moved inside when the flame dies halfway through. Better yet, reduce your dependence on foreign oil (okay, domestic natural gas), by switching to charcoal, because grilling over coals is just the right thing to do.

2. Grease your grate. Get the grill good and hot (and clean…you did clean it first right?). Then make it non-stick by using a set of tongs to wipe it down with a vegetable-oil-soaked paper towel. Close the grill lid for about five minutes to get it good and hot, then add the meat. Voila! Perfect grill marks, every time.

3. Don’t flatten your burgers with the spatula! I know every son out there learned this technique from their dad, but, and I would never tell my dad this, it’s ruining your burger. You know all that juice that you’re pressing out? Yeah, that delicious fat could be creating a juicy burger instead of burning away. Just. Stop. (Pro Tip: If you want to keep your burger patties flat, make an indentation in the middle of them with your thumb and place that side down on the grill first. Really, it works.)

4. Learn what it means to cook indirectly and you’ll never have to eat an overcooked steak or flame-burnt burger again. Really, it’s not difficult. Just manage your fire so you have a hot side and a cool side and move your meat around accordingly. Also great for cooking larger cuts of meat such as whole chickens, wild pork shoulders, and bear hams.

5. Think outside the bun. No, I don’t mean go to Taco Bell. I mean don’t be afraid to get creative. For years, the grill was just a place to cook burgers, hot dogs and steaks. But really, it’s so much more. Once you start experimenting, you’ll find out your grill is the most versatile cooking appliance you own. Challenge yourself.