A successful backyard barbecue session starts in the kitchen

The Clean Zone

The No. 1 rule of barbecue prep: Thou shalt not cross-contaminate. Ready-to-eat foods should never be placed on surfaces used for raw meat or seafood. Dedicate separate counter space, cutting boards and plates for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods, and clean all surfaces, implements and dishes with hot water and soap as you go.

Washing your hands before, during and after handling raw meat or food is another cardinal rule. Grimy chicken fingers got you singing “Can’t Touch This”? With a Delta Touch20 faucet, you can come clean by touching anywhere on the spout or handle with your forearm, elbow or wrist to get the water flowing freely.

This Little Brine of Mine

Seasoned pros know that the key to juicy, flavorful meat is the brine. Optimal brining times vary: In general, plan to brine small seafood and fish for about 30 minutes; bone-in poultry, chops and steaks for two to three hours; and larger roasts for four to eight hours. Brines can be as basic as water, salt and sugar. For more flavor, add herbs, citrus juices and spices.

On the Side

Free yourself up to focus on the ’cue by prepping sides and accompaniments ahead of time. Potato and pasta salads, burger and hotdog toppings, sauces, dressings and more can usually be made the day before and refrigerated overnight.

Ready, Set, Go

Tabletop real estate is always tight. To avoid a last-minute dish shuffle, set the table ahead of time with plates, utensils and serving dishes. That way, you can transfer fresh-off-the-grill items directly to serving platters.