How to Grill Like a Pro

Merna Delaurentis

Table of Contents I’m buying my first grill but there are about one million options online. WTF do I choose?Grill purchased. How do I set it up for success? I want to grill now, but the recipe wants me to marinate for hours. Who has the time for that?I’ve heard […]

Welcome to high grilling season, when the sweat on your brow isn’t just from the holiday heat. There’s no shame in admitting grillin’ ain’t easy, especially when you’re just starting out. Synthesizing the dozens of equipment options, culinary styles, and hack advice versus whack advice into a go-to strategy can be overwhelming, so we’ve done the work for you. Keep reading for your answers to your biggest questions, recipes from the pros, and tools to make your life easier. Let’s get into it.

I’m buying my first grill but there are about one million options online. WTF do I choose?

This is the first existential question any green griller comes up against: gas or charcoal? One is quick and tidy. The other is slow, temperamental, and if you’re not using natural lump (hardwood) charcoal, there’s a chance your beautiful grass-fed rib-eye will wind up tasting like the inside of a chemical drum. Can’t deny the romantic, primal energy of cooking over wood, but skewer for skewer, gas is the grill you want for consistency and efficiency. Save the wood for barbecuing, which FYI is not grilling. More on that in a minute.

Grill purchased. How do I set it up for success?

Remember this acronym: ZIGI. Zone It. Grease It. Turn half the burners to medium-high. Leave the others off. This creates two zones. The first is to cook over direct heat. The other is to cook over gentle, indirect heat when the grill is closed (scroll down to “Now that I’ve successfully grilled a few times…” for more on this), to keep finished items warm without overcooking them, and to provide a safe haven to move food in case of flare-ups. Which brings us to Grease It. Flare-ups happen when dripping fat ignites fire, quickly turning food into carbonized fossils. Minimize this by greasing the grates, not the food*. For produce and lean proteins, dip a folded paper towel into a small bowl of neutral oil (grapeseed, avocado, etc.) and use tongs to brush the towel over the (clean!) grates. When you’re working with meat that renders lots of fat, like burgers and lavishly marbled steaks, you don’t even need to oil your grates at all as long as they’re very clean.

I want to grill now, but the recipe wants me to marinate for hours. Who has the time for that?

Marinating can be an effective way to flavor and tenderize meats, but you’ve got to be a planner by nature. Don’t believe anyone who tells you 30 minutes in a marinade makes a difference; chef Chris Paul’s wicked Haitian chicken recipe, for example, calls for a four to 12 hours of protein-marinade contact. The good news: If you can’t commit the time to a leisurely marinade, you can build huge flavor from basting. Barbecue sauce or teriyaki, pesto or sambal, set up a sauce in a small bowl next to the grill with a silicone basting brush. Brush the top of your protein and grill that side down to start. Brush the naked side, flip when ready, and baste again and throughout the rest of the cooking process to create a caramelized shell of flavor around your protein.

 

Add these budget-friendly products to your cart immediately. Trust. 

  1. Nexgrill’s 4-Burner Propane Gas Grill in Stainless Steel with Side Burner ($299 at Home Depot): A four-burner, stainless-grill propane gas grill with a single side burner— like this one—is a perfect starting point. 
  2. Woodstock Hickory Barbeque Sauce ($11 at Amazon): This is a great all-purpose barbecue sauce: sweet, tangy, zesty, and free from high-fructose corn syrup.
  3. Silcony 8.4-inch Silicone Basting Pastry Brush ($7 at Amazon): Forget any bristle-based brush and go with an easy-clean silicone model like these. 
  4. Wildwood Grilling Smoking Chips ($10 at Wildwood Grilling): The Idaho-based company offers several different types of wood chips for smoking, including maple and cherry. 
  5. Weber Instant-Read Meat Thermometer ($13 at Weber): It’s a workhorse that will last for years and costs less than $20.

 

I’ve heard grilling fish is impossible. Should I even bother?

Yes, definitely bother, but some species-specific tips to consider. Thick, sturdy steaks of tuna and swordfish work great on the grill; treat ’em as you would meat. For salmon and char, stick with skin-on fillets or whole sides and grill skin side-down only; skinless requires a barrier like tinfoil, fish basket, or cedar plank. You can grill thin, flaky fillets of bass, trout, and snapper with a barrier, too, but medium-sized fish like this are ideal and delicious grilled whole. *Fish with the skin on is the only time it’s wise to brush a little neutral oil on your protein before grilling, just for insurance against sticking.

What about vegetables? They always seem to fall through the grates.

This is definitely an occupational hazard of grilling vegetables like beans, snap peas, mushrooms, zucchini slices, etc. You can capture a charred flavor and eliminate runaways by using a grill basket or simply laying a cheap piece of wire mesh over the grates.

Now that I’ve successfully grilled a few times, I feel ready to barbecue a whole brisket like an amateur Aaron Franklin.

Easy, player. Grilling ≠ barbecue, a higher art that requires patience, finesse, well-honed instincts, and the ability to control heat and smoke for a long period of time. Before jumping into the Texas pitmaster deep end, practice with something like salmon fillets or a chicken, and you don’t need to drop a paycheck on a Big Green Egg, as any gas grill can be set up like a smoker. Turn the outside burners to low and leave the center ones off. A tinfoil packet of soaked wood chips (apple, hickory, or a blend) goes on each side over the direct heat, and the food goes in the center to cook indirectly. When the grill is closed, the heat creates a fragrant chamber of steam and smoke that circulates around the protein. For larger cuts, expect to replenish the wood chips and add a small disposable aluminum pan of liquid (water, beer) to maintain humidity.

After grilling up a storm, I’m ready to feast and crack a beer. I’ll worry about the grates the next time I grill.

You deserve to enjoy the fruits of your hard work, but cleaning immediately after cooking is nonnegotiable for long-term care and continued nonstick success. Fortunately, it requires just minimal effort. After cooking, leave the heat on and close the grill for five minutes, which gives any larger stuck bits a chance to burn off. Open the grill and brush the grates clean with a grill brush, using the scraper end to remove any obstinate residue. Now onto that beer.

Devin Finigan, Chris Paul, and Niven Patel have RSVP’d to your summer BBQ. 

Courtesy of Devin Finigan  

Grilled Maine Lobster Tails with Charred Corn and New Potatoes

Devin Finigan knows lobster. The name of her restaurant, Aragosta, on Maine’s idyllic Deer Isle, means “lobster” in Italian, and she gets why people are nervous about grilling it. The crustacean is expensive and delicate, “But you shouldn’t be afraid,” she urges. “A lobster tail is the easiest thing to grill.” Not to mention delicious. “The grill adds a smoky element and nice char that you don’t get with a classic steamed lobster. It screams summertime.” 

Serves 4

4 whole lobster tails
Neutral oil, for greasing grill grates
4 ears of corn, shucked
1 pound new potatoes, boiled to fork-tender
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of 2 limes
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Lemon-Garlic Butter (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat one side of the grill to high and butterfly the lobster tails. Position the tails on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to make a cut through the shell along the center of each tail. Do not cut all the way through. Open the shell and pull the meat out and over the shell. 
  2. Grease the grill grates with neutral oil. Place the potatoes in a sheet of tin foil. Drizzle olive oil over them, season with salt and pepper to taste and fold the foil closed on all sides to make a pouch. Grill for 10 minutes over direct heat. Move to indirect heat to keep warm.
  3. Grill the corn. Add the corn to the grill over direct heat and baste with the lemon-garlic butter. Continue to turn and baste until the corn is lightly charred all over. Remove and allow it to cool.
  4. Grill the lobster. Drizzle olive oil over tails and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Grill them flesh-side down over direct heat for 3 minutes, then flip and baste with the lemon-garlic butter. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, frequently basting, then move to indirect heat to keep warm.
  5. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to a serving bowl. Carefully remove the pouch of potatoes and add to the bowl, along with the onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and lime juice. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and serve alongside the grilled lobster tails and extra lemon-garlic butter. 

Lemon-Garlic Butter

4 tablespoons salted butter
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic

Melt the butter in a saucepan over very low heat. Add the lemon and garlic and stir to combine. Keep warm for basting and serving.

haitan grilled chicken

Courtesy of Chris Paul

Haitian Grilled Chicken

In Haiti, where Brooklyn-born Chris Paul lived from his first birthday until the fifth grade, “Every mom has a jar of epis in the fridge,” he says. “It’s our version of soffrito, chimichurri, or pesto and is unbiasedly used in everything from seafood to poultry to red meat.” This recipe, a fixture of Paul’s ongoing Lakay pop-up in Philly, features chicken drumsticks and a unique Haitian pre-treatment of lave (scrubbing the meat with salt and acid) chode (blanching it in boiling water) before they hit the grill. “This is the way they’ve been doing it in Haiti for hundreds of years, where the earliest version of boucane (cooking over fire) comes from the Arawak. The process builds texture and gets the flavor to penetrate to the bone.” If you don’t feel like making epis from scratch you can buy packs of Paul’s marinade online.

Serves 4-6

10 chicken drumsticks
2 limes, halved
4 tablespoons fine-textured sea salt, divided
2 quarts boiling water
½ cup Epis Marinade (recipe follows)
Neutral oil, for greasing grill grates
Fresh parsley leaves, for serving
Sliced scallions, for serving
Sliced sweet peppers, for serving
Lakay Pineapple Habanero Sauce, for serving

  1. Lave the chicken by scrubbing it with the limes and half of the salt. Add the chicken to a stainless steel bowl set on a dishtowel.
  2. Chode the chicken. Carefully pour the boiling water over the chicken and let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain off the water, reserving ½ cup of it.
  3. Mix the reserved water with the epis and add it to the bowl of chicken. Thoroughly mix so that all the chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
  4. Remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Greate the grates with neutral oil. Add the chicken, season with the remaining salt, and cook for 20-25 minutes, turning as needed to char all sides.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Garnish with parsley, scallions, peppers, and Pineapple Habanero Sauce and serve.

Epis Marinade

Makes 4 cups

1 bunch parsley, stemmed
1 bunch thyme, stemmed
10-12 garlic cloves (about 1 full head), peeled
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup white vinegar
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions, trimmed in half from the root, use both green + white  and roughly chopped
1-2 Scotch Bonnet (or habanero) chiles, depending on heat preference, seeded
2 tablespoons fine-textured sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh-ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Blend the parsley, thyme, garlic, lime, and vinegar in a blender or food processor into a coarse paste.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to blend, slowly drizzling in the olive oil while the blender/food processor is running until the marinade becomes smooth.
  3. Use the marinade immediately or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 1 month. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and store the epis cubes in a freezer bag indefinitely. 
Grilled Cabbage with Vadouvan Vinaigrette and Coriander Peanuts

Courtesy of Niven Patel  

Grilled Cabbage with Vadouvan Vinaigrette and Coriander Peanuts

When you think of grilled vegetables, what comes to mind? Asparagus. Eggplant. Zucchini. Cabbage. No, probably not cabbage. But Niven Patel, whose vegetable dishes at his Miami restaurant Ghee absolutely slay, says not to sleep on the brassica. “I really love cabbage and its versatility. It’s a sponge for any flavors you want to put with it,” he says. Patel favors the Caraflex variety he grows at his farm, Rancho Patel, in Homestead, Florida, 40 minutes south of the city, but Savoy also works well in this recipe as a substitute.

Serves 4-6

Neutral oil, for greasing the grates
1 large head of cabbage, preferably Caraflex or Savoy variety, quartered and cored
2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Vadouvan Vinaigrette (recipe follows), for serving
Coriander Peanuts (recipe follows), for serving
Cilantro, for serving

  1. Preheat the grill to high and grease the grates with the neutral oil. Rub the cabbage with the olive oil and season it with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and grill the cabbage until fork-tender (about 20 minutes), turning as needed to create caramelization and light char on all sides.
  3. Add half the vinaigrette to a serving plate. Place the cabbage on top and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro and serve.

Vadouvan Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons vadouvan spice blend
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar 
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (½ teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt)
½ cup vegetable oil

  1. Puree all the ingredients but oil in a blender.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the blender is running until the dressing becomes smooth.

Coriander Peanuts

½ cup raw peanuts 
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds 
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (½ teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Combine the ingredients in a pan and toast over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring, until the peanuts are golden-brown.
  2. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes, then pulse in a food processor or roughly chop with a knife.

Go here to subscribe to Sidekick for more timely guides like this, and of course our newsletter with twice-weekly recs for smarter living. 

Next Post

Very best Turkey Fryer | Out of doors Deep Fryers You Require

For numerous many years, roasted turkey was thought of the entree to serve at Thanksgiving dinner and other occasions. Although roasted turkey can be excellent, it is simple to overcook and dry out. Then, an individual someplace experienced the notion of deep-frying a holiday break bird and taking it to […]
copyright @ collechtli.info WordPress Theme: Seek by ThemeInWP