The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • 55 Top Chef Tips on How to Grill

  • Improve your skills at the grill with 55 tidbits from the pros and some of our favorite recipes.
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  • June 21st may be the “official” first day of summer. But we say summer starts the moment you dust off the grill and are able to serve up a smorgasbord of barbecued goodies. Whether you prefer gas or charcoal, there’s something to be gleaned from the grilling methods utilized by top chefs like Rick Bayless and Curtis Stone. Which is why we asked them to share their favorite tricks for al fresco cooking. 1. Banking your coals to one side of the grill makes all the difference. Cook the meat until charred in the “hot spot” (that is, over the coals), then let it coast to perfect doneness in the “cool spot.” 2. Think beyond burgers and steaks! One of my favorite things to grill is mussels: Lay them on the grill, wait for them to open, take them off, douse them in sauce. It's really that easy. —Rick Bayless, Chef/Owner, Red O Restaurant 3. Know thy grill. If you are using a gas grill to control your heat, there is no need to have it turned up all the way—you’ll burn that beautiful steak. If you are a charcoal aficionado, make sure you let your charcoal burn down and let the briquets get nice and white-hot. Don't rush it; get your charcoal working a minimum of one hour before you plan on grilling. —Peter Vauthy, Chef/Partner, Red, the Steakhouse  4. Organize and prep (wash, cut, oil, and season) everything in advance and place on a sheet pan ready for the grill. Organization will allow you to enjoy your grilling experience. —Paul Virant, Chef/Owner, Perennial Virant & Vie 5. Make sure the item you are grilling has been taken out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before it goes on the grill. This way the meat is closer to room temperature and will cook quicker and more evenly. Doing this will also cause the middle to cook faster, making it easier to avoid charring the outside. 6. If applying a glaze or sauce on the meat (chicken, ribs, pork chops), remember that it’s best to cook the meat on the direct flame of the grill to get those awesome char marks, then glaze and cook through on a cooler part of the grill. This will ensure the flavor still penetrates the meat but the charred, burnt carbon crust doesn't form due to burning at the early stage. —Graham Elliot, Chef/Restaurateur, Graham Elliot Bistro & Primary Food & Drink 7. Keeping your grill in good condition will make life a lot easier and allow you to enjoy the grilling season to the utmost. At the beginning of your grilling season, give your grill one good cleaning. This should involve a strong cleaning agent (there are lots of environmentally-safe options out there). Soak the grates and scrub the body as well. If you are using gas or propane, you really want to clean out all your ports and potentially replace any stones or ceramic plates, depending on your make and model. After each and every use, clean the grates using a stiff bristled brush; stuff comes off really easy when the grates are hot and this leaves you prepped for the next time you fire the grill up. —Albert Gonzalez, Chef, Apothecary Café & Wine Bar  8. Summertime is a great season to cook your freshly caught fish on the grill, but low heat and overcooking will quickly dry fish out. When grilling filets of fish, you must make sure you grill on high heat and have a good spatula on hand. Do not move your fish around once you place it on the grill, as it will break easily. Flip only once. Fish filets are best when a spice crust or rub is used. While grilling, use a basting of seasoned olive oil to help the fish ascertain its maximum flavor. Sean Brasel, Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Meat Market 50. Most people don’t consider grilling vegetables when they grill steak or burgers, but when you think about it, it’s the best way to complement the meal, especially using charcoal or wood. To make it easier, pick up one of those grilling pans for vegetables that help keep small pieces from falling through the grate. Potatoes cook in about 15 minutes if you cut them small enough. Always include onions; they will add a lot of flavor to any vegetable mix. You can even do fruits such as tomatoes, peaches and pears. The key is to cook the vegetables on the hot spot of your grill. If you grill steaks, pork chops, or even hamburgers, once you pull them off, stick your vegetables in that spot and you’ll pick up a little bit of that flavor as well. —Jack Gilmore, Executive Chef/Owner,Jack Allen’s Kitchen 51. My favorite thing to grill is probably soft shell crabs, because they're incredibly easy to make. Little bit of salt, pepper and oil—tossed in a little bit of garlic—is all you need. After grilling, add a squeeze of roasted or crushed lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil to finish it off. —Govind Armstrong, Chef/Owner, Post & Beam and Willie Jane 52. Be careful when it comes to oysters. The super hot, dry heat of a grill is not the best thing for oysters, so when grilling it is best to create a moist environment. One way to do that is to keep the grill at a fairly low temperature and cover the oysters by putting the top down on the grill or covering them with a pan. You can also put the oysters on a medium to low heat grill and cover them with a wet towel or burlap sack, which helps to steam them. —Dylan Fultineer, Chef, Rappahannock Restaurant Christen the springtime grill on Easter Sunday by serving up a plateful of savory lamb chops. Brighten with a tropical relish of kiwi, mango, mint and honey to complete the meal. Recipe:   Grilled Lamb Chops with Kiwi Mango Relish Recipe: Grilled Lamb Chops with Kiwi Mango Relish 53. When grilling lamb, you want to make sure you’re not losing any moisture. To make sure I keep all the natural juices in, I grill lamb whole before chilling it all the way through, slicing and marinating in red wine. Once marinated, I’ll finish it off in the oven. With this technique, the lamb gets the delicious smoky flavor from grilling while still staying juicy and tender. —Jeremy Lieb, Executive Chef, Boca 54. My secret summer cocktail ingredient: Tarragon. All that heat from the grill is going to make you thirsty. Make a refreshing cocktail with tarragon. It’s a great herb for lighter summer cocktails and spirits like gin, vodka and even tequila. —Brian Dayton, Beverage Director, OAK at fourteenth & Acorn 55. Try grilling seasonal fruits for dessert. They will pair perfectly with cheese! —Sarah McIntosh, Chef/Owner, épicerie  For more sage grilling advice along with some amazing recipes, see below... This article originally appeared as on Relish
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