If you haven’t gotten your grill hot yet this season, you are at least thinking about it, aren’t you? With the weather this weekend peaking into the 70’s, I am stocked up on hard wood charcoal and ready to fire the ole’ grill up. If you need some brushing up on some grilling basics, I’ve outlined a few below along with some favorite marinades. Enjoy!!
The #1 most important rule in grilling is a HOT grill. You don’t want to steam your food, so if you have a gas grill and after heating it up for 10 or so minutes, you can leave your hand a few inches above the grate for longer than 5 seconds, you may need to get a new grill or have new heat conductor plates put in.
I prefer a charcoal grill with a gas starter. This way you can avoid lighting the charcoal yourself. I use a charcoal starter and stack it first with some crumpled up newspaper and then with either briquettes or hardwood charcoal (my preference) and turn the gas on for just a few minutes. Once the charcoal catches, it will heat the rest of the briquettes in 5 minutes or so. Pour them out onto your grid and top with more charcoal until you have the proper amount (see below) and then wait until the top briquettes are white before starting to grill.
You want to have at least 3 inches of charcoal in the middle of the grill and 1.5 inches around the sides. Also make sure your charcoal area is larger than your cooking area.
The edges are a good place to put thinner cuts of meat or pieces that are starting to overcook.
Before starting to grill, always be prepared to have the following on hand:
Grill cleaning brush
Instant read thermometer
Spray bottle with water
Kosher salt and pepper grinder
Clean platter for cooked meat or veggie
When grilling fish, I personally think that if the fish isn’t firm like a swordfish, it will stick no matter how careful you are. You can minimize the sticking by brushing your hot grate with oil and marinating your fish with oil beforehand. Beyond that, a fish basket or hinged fish grill comes in handy for those more delicate fish. You still need to oil up the basket and the fish, but you don’t have to worry about losing your fish to the depths of your grill.
Beef, pork and lamb are easier to work with. Your meat should either have a dry rub or be marinated for a few hours in a wet rub. With a dry rub, you still need to brush the meat with a little veggie oil first. If the cuts of meat that you are using are very thick, think about just searing them well on both sides, cover on to get that charcoal flavor; and then popping the meat into the oven to finish it off. This is a good way to avoid burning it.
As for chicken, I prefer to use skin on, bone in pieces since they tend to hold in moisture. If you are using boneless cuts of chicken, sear them on both sides and move them immediately to the cooler parts of the grill to finish off. Be careful when choosing a marinade. If there is honey, corn syrup or other sugars in your marinade, they should be applied at the very end in order to avoid burning the flesh of your lovely chicken.
Grilled salmon with chili-honey glaze- serves 4 (or 8 as part of a buffet of other entrees)
for the glaze :
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c honey
1 T ground cumin ( toasted seeds and then grind is best!)
1 T chili powder
1 t minced fresh red or green chili pepper
Place in small pot and bring to simmer. Cook down until thickens a bit- about 2-3 minutes or until ingredients are combined.
4 8-ounce salmon fillets
2 T sesame oil
kosher salt and ground black pepper , to taste
Rub the salmon lightly with sesame oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the salmon over a medium-hot fire for 6-8 minutes per side, or until it is opaque throughout. During the last 30 seconds of grilling, brush the fish with the chile-honey glaze. Do not leave on grill too long, as the sugar in the glaze will burn.
Microwave the leftover glaze and serve in a bowl next to the salmon.
Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Anchovy fillets – one can, drained of oil and chopped fine
25 large basil leaves
3 teaspoons curry powder or to taste
1/4 cup Olive puree- brine cured olives pureed with olive oil
4 garlic cloves- large- minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 lb. butterflied leg of lamb
Flatter parts of this cut of meat will cook faster, so be sure to butterfly the meat a little more after you get it home before marinating.
Mix all ingredients and rub all over the leg of lamb. Marinate 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare a hot grill. Sear both sides- 10 minutes per side. Bring grill down to medium, or place lamb away from direct flame. Grill until medium rare or still red/pink inside.
Rib Eye with Adobo Rub and Chimichurri Sauce- Serves 4
4 boneless rib-eyes
2 tablespoons each fresh ground black pepper, paprika, onion powder, ancho chili powder, ground cumin, dark brown sugar, ground ginger, garlic powder, kosher salt.
¼ c. olive oil
Combine all the above ingredients and dredge each steak in the rub, rubbing the mixture into each steak. Put aside and let rest for one hour at room temp. Prepare barbecue on medium-high. Season steaks with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper- both sides. ~ 3 minutes per side for med. Rare. Do not forget to let steaks rest for 5 minutes covered with foil. This will allow the blood to spread back out through the steak, making it moist. Serve with chimichurri sauce.
½ c. chopped cilantro
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
2 bay leaves, center stem removed, crumbled
1 T. dried oregano or 1 t. fresh
1 t. Kosher salt
1 c. chopped parsley, chopped
4 T. white vinegar
½ c. olive oil
Combine ¼ c. cilantro, garlic cloves, jalapenos, bay leaves, oregano and salt in bowl of food processor. Blend until finely chopped, scraping down sides with spatula often. Add parsley, vinegar, oil and remaining cilantro. Blend until coarsely chopped. Season with pepper.