Al Roker's 5 Rules of Barbecue

1. Never Touch Another Man's Grill.
I will be the first to admit that when it comes to cooking, I'm a bit of a control freak. I love folks hanging out in the kitchen while I cook, but I don't want any help. The same holds true at the backyard grill. Don't ask to help me cook. I would never think of touching your grill. I know that every inch of soot-and-grease-encrusted metal has been lovingly and patiently created by you. It's one of the manly arts. Ever heard of the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the broth?" Here's another one: "Touch my grill or any of my utensils, they'll be calling you 'Stumpy'!

2. Do Not Use A Fork To Move Your Meat Around The Grill.
Use tongs. If you pierce the meat with a fork, all those wonderful juices will run out onto the coals, cause some wonderful flare-ups, and leave you with grilled shoe leather. While your friends "Oooooo" and "Aaahhh" at the flames, you're ruining your meat and run the risk of setting your facial hair on fire.

3. Don't Keep Moving Your Meat Around The Grill.
Once you slap it on the grill, just leave it, unless it either: (a) starts to burn and you have to move it to a cooler spot or (b) there's inclement weather and you are threatened by floods, locusts, lightning, or all of the above. It may be very satisfying to flip your burger and push it down on the grill. Know what that does? Causes flare-ups and dries out the meat. See Rule 2.

4. Do Not Wear An Apron That Says, "Kiss The Cook."
If you want to invite ridicule, scorn, and derision, then by all means, wear something like the aforementioned apron or like attire. By the same token, I always love those pictures of barbecues in the glossy food magazines with people wearing designer sweaters tied around their necks and khaki slacks or skirts. Who are these people? What kind of barbecue are they at? They probably eat ribs with a knife and fork! Me, I love grilling in an old T-shirt and shorts. In fact, I usually wear those sport shorts that are good on land and water. If things get a little hot, I take a break from grilling and jump in the pool. But not for long, lest somebody think the grill needs tending. See Rule 1.

5. Don't Take It Too Seriously.
Enjoy yourself. That's the deal with grilling and barbecue. Friends and family. Laughter and good times. It's not like being at those trendy downtown bars, where everyone is dressed in black and they all look like they need a cookie. Backyard cooking is folks who look like you and me, people we know, but more important, people we want to hang out with.

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