It’s the time of year when we all have the urge to be outdoors more. Days are getting longer, nights are staying warmer, beverages are getting colder, and outdoor cooking will become more common, and for some, almost a daily summer ritual. With summer oh-so-close and the quintessential kick-off to summer holiday, Memorial Day, just a couple short weeks away, we take a closer look at all things needed for a splendid summer cook out.
Tips to Get Grilling:
When choosing which type of grill to use, consider this: gas grills burn cleaner, meaning that they do not leave as much pollution as their charcoal counter parts. However, many grill afficandos believe that the charcoal grills give the best flavor, leaving more of the highly sought-after smoky flavors. Charcoal is a little more work, so pick which grilling method is best for you.
The number one tip our chefs recommend when talking about grilling is make sure the grill is hot. Before any food touches the grill, preheat the grill for at least 10-15 minutes. (While the grill is preheating, this is a great time to brush off any left over bits.) A good rule of thumb: it’s hot enough when you are not able to hold your hand over the grates for more than two seconds. Preheating the grill kills any bacteria from previously grilled meals, and will help to achieve the grilled sear, which prevents sticking, and seals in the juicy goodness of meats and veggies.
Once your meat is on the grill do not move it, we repeat, do not move it! Moving anything around a bunch on a grill will not only keep it from getting the proper sear, but it also makes the food stick to the grates.
If you are grilling chicken, please choose dark meat–your guests will thank you and will think you are a master chef on the grill. Chicken thighs can stand up to the high heat without loosing flavor, and they stay moist. (Drumsticks and wings work well too, but we find chicken thighs to be easiest.) No need to worry about serving dry chicken when you stick with dark meat.
Seafood grills best with skin still on as this helps keep the meat intact. If placing fish on direct flames still makes you nervous about fish getting flaky, use a lightly oiled fish-grilling basket. Skewers make shrimp and scallops easier to flip and they will cook more evenly.
Be brave and try grilling shellfish like clams and oysters–place directly on the highest point of heat on the grill. They will open when ready, no need to turn. Small clams can lay flat in a vegetable basket to prevent them form falling though the grates. Most shellfish takes about 4-8 minutes to cook. Discard any that do not open.
Let it rest. All meat should rest for at least 10 minutes when it comes off the grill. Allowing the meat to rest before serving gives the juices in the meat a chance to redistribute. Just enough time to pour another summer beer…
For the perfect burger follow a few rules: do not pack them in, you end up with hockey pucks. Instead, be light handed when forming your patties giving the meat room to expand when cooking. Once patties are formed, make a divot in the middle of each burger, this keeps the burger from making a dome when grilling, and finally, please do not flatten when cooking! Flattening the burger makes all the juices run out, leaving the meat dry.
Grill baskets can save valuable real estate on the grill and keep smaller veggies from falling through the cracks. They can even be used for smaller proteins like shrimp, scallops, or chicken and steak strips for fajitas.
Veggies should be lightly oiled with just enough to keep them from sticking–too much oil can cause the grill to flame. For more flavor, toss grilled vegetables in a vinaigrette after veggies are done grilling.
Are you craving that perfect wood-fired pizza you had while vacationing in Italy last summer? Re-create the Old World favorite on the grill. Using store bought pizza dough roll out to desired thickness and place on hot (really hot) grill. Cook first side until bubbly and slightly charred. Flip over and quickly put on the desired ingredients until warmed through. The whole pie should take about six minutes, far less time than it takes to call delivery!
Grilled fruit is so good because the heat from the grill causes the juices to come to the surface as it evaporates, making the fruit extra sweet and delicious. Stone fruits like peaches and nectarines take on a smoky honey flavor (great over ice cream), watermelons become more juicy and sweet (wonderful on their own), and chunks of pineapple skewered with strawberries make for a tropical twist on strawberry shortcake.
Serendipity wants to know: What is your favorite recipe on the grill? Happy grilling everyone!