1. Clean your grill racks before each use. To do so, scrub grate tops and sides vigorously with a metal-bristle grill-cleaning brush or with a crumpled ball of aluminum foil held tightly between the tips of tongs.
2. To prevent foods from sticking, oil the grill rack before preheating. The simplest way to oil the rack is simply to spray it with nonstick cooking spray, but dipping a crumpled paper towel in vegetable oil and rubbing it over the grates works well, too. Never apply cooking spray on a lit grill.
3. Make sure that your cooking area is wider and longer than the food you intend to grill.
4. To preheat a charcoal grill, light coals 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking. How much charcoal? A good rule of thumb is to use 1 pound of charcoal for every pound of meat that you plan to cook.
5. To preheat a gas grill, start the flames at least 15 minutes before placing food over the fire.
Evaluate your coals according to the way they look.
APPEARANCE OF COALS
450°F to 600°F
Coals glow bright orange.
350°F to 450°F
Coals glow bright orange and are covered with a very fine layer of ash.
325°F to 350°F
Coals glow medium-orange and are covered with a light layer of ash.
250°F to 325°F
Coals are pale orange and are covered with a medium-thick layer of ash.
225°F to 250°F
Coals are barely orange and are coated with a thick layer of ash.