According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, as many as 86% of U.S. households now own an outdoor barbecue, grill or smoker. If you're among them, here are 10 professional tips to up your grilling game this summer.
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- 10 Morsels of Grilling Wisdom from the Pros
10 Morsels of Grilling Wisdom from the Pros
Start Those Burners!
Play with Fire
Indirect heat—grilling high above, or off to the side of, flames or coals—is ideal for large roasts, whole chickens, and whole fish (anything that will need 25 minutes or more to cook). Close the lid, or cover with a large roasting pan, to create oven-like conditions. Direct heat—grates directly over the flame or coals—is best for foods that cook quickly like steaks, shish kebab, and most vegetables.
Avoid the Cold
Marinades Need Time
If you have the time (30 minutes or up to one day), marinades are great for tenderizing and infusing flavor. Avoid overdoing it, though: Marinate too long and the meat becomes mushy. Marinate up to 20 minutes for fish; two hours for steaks, chicken, and chops; and four to six hours for roasts and whole chickens.
After seasoning meat with a dry rub, you don’t have to wait: It's fine to take the meat straight to the grill. Another way to effortlessly infuse flavor while retaining moisture is to grill the meat over a bed of herbs. This also works wonderfully for delicate fish and scallops; grill either in over lightly oiled herbs in a grill basket.
Smoking Is Permitted
From Marc Murphy, judge on Chopped and chef/owner of Landmarc and Ditch Plains restaurants in NY: "I love to turn my charcoal grill into a smoker to add tons of smoky flavor. Take the hot coals and push them to one side of the grill, then add a tasty rub to any meat. On the grill, position the meat on the opposite side of the coals. Lastly, add wet hickory chips on top of the coals to create a smoking effect. Leave a little air-flow, and then it just starts smoking. You can have a lot of fun with it!"
Avoid a Sticky Situation
It is so disappointing when a beautiful piece of fish or meat gets stuck to the grill. Don’t let this happen to you: 1) Clean heated grates with a wire brush; 2) Oil them well using a folded paper towel held with tongs and dipped in vegetable oil; and 3) Apply sugary barbecue sauces a few minutes before you are ready to take food off the grill.
Baste Your Steak
From Jamie Bissonnette—chef and partner of Boston restaurants Coppa and Toro: "When grilling steaks you can baste the meat with rendered bone marrow mixed with canola oil. The protein in the marrow will react with the meat to create a tasty golden brown and delicious crust. If you do not have or want to buy bone marrow, use bacon fat or seasoned oil."
Make Entertaining Easy
Kebabs lend themselves to entertaining, because they can be prepped ahead and cook quickly. The day before, thread flat skewers with vegetables and meat all cut to the same size (to ensure even cooking), with a piece of garlic on the tip to act as a stopper. Brush liberally with oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight until ready to grill.
From Elizabeth Karmel, executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market in NY and Washington, D.C., and author of several books, including Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling: "Avoid a burger that looks like a hockey puck with a swollen belly by making a small depression in the middle of the uncooked burger before you grill. This indentation will prevent the burgers from swelling up and rounding out while cooking."
Grill Dessert, Too
How about grilled mixed-berry shortcake? Add buttermilk biscuit halves, buttered, to the grill. As they toast, brush with on honey that's mixed with a little rum. (You can also use pound cake for a richer dessert.) Top with sugar marinated raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and a dollop of vanilla whipped cream.