Summer is upon us, and that means the grills of New Jersey (and the nation) are hard at work. Grilling is one of our great national past times. It’s the combination of enjoying the great outdoors, good company, and excellent casual dining and entertaining experiences. Of course people want more of that. You might have a patio, or even a pool – but when summer comes, standing in front of the grill is one of the best places to be.

That said, a lot of steaks are going to get ruined this year. Let’s face it. Grilling is also something that takes skill. We’ve all had an experience where the grillmaster was less than masterful, and we all know that person who really gets it done right. There is a wide spectrum of skill-levels when it comes to grilling. Here are some tips to raise the bar on your summer grilling game, particularly with steaks.

1. Don’t overdo it

Cooking steak too long is probably the number one problem in DIY steak grilling. Obviously you don’t want to be eating raw beef, unless you’re a fan of the steak tartar dishes they like to serve in France. But cooking the beef too long for reasons of sanitation is usually a flawed concept. In fact, there are numerous studies out there showing that overcooking beef actually takes away some of its nutritional value and could be unhealthy in other ways. When succulent steak is perfectly prepared, there’s nothing like it. And let’s not forget – they serve raw beef in France.

2. Try skipping the marinades

Nobody is saying that marinades aren’t great. If fact, marinades can be responsible for some downright succulent dishes. But there’s a reason why not many professional steakhouses fool around with marinades that much: It’s because the beef is very high quality, from a reputable source, and marinades would only mask the glorious natural flavor of the beef. Backyard barbeques tend to lean heavily on marinades, but if you’ve gone out and bought some really good steak, we would recommend trying to mimic the steakhouse preparation. Many steak chefs will pound the meat with some rock salt and that’s it. The rest is all about using heat to bring out the amazing flavor, tenderness, and juiciness of the steak.

3. Sell the grill and go to a steakhouse

We don’t really want people to sell their grills. As we said in the beginning, grilling is one of the best summer activities. But it’s also not for everyone. A balmy night in which you walk into a fresh, cool dining room and sit down to a professionally prepared steak dinner – that can also be a very nice summer experience. And there’s no cleanup afterwards.

Treat steak right!

Whether you like to grill your own steak or let others grill it for you, it’s good to respect the beef, not overcook it, and try to bring out its natural flavor and tenderness. Getting really good might take some practice – and a few trips to a local steakhouse for comparison.