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Antique Walnut and Pewter Fork

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Grilling and Barbecuing

Grilling or barbecuing, you will at one time or another need some help and advice. Presented here are several links to very good web sites where you can find helpful information on the subject. In my former restaurant, The Harvard Street Grill in Brookline, MA, (Boston), I personally grilled more than 84,000 meals for customers in 6 1/2 years. The restaurant had 32 seats and was very busy because of the high quality of food and service. It was rated 3 1/2 stars by the Boston Globe, 3 1/2 stars by the Boston Herald and the 7th best food and service in Metro Boston by the Zagat survey. I consider myself somewhat of an expert griller. I will share my knowledge on this subject as well as gather links that will make your grilling as successful as a professional chef's. Enjoy! 

Chef John V's BBQ Guide

Grilling---How to Improve your Technique!

Two words to know if you want to be a better griller are direct and indirect.

Direct means cooking an item right in the center of a hot grill's flames.

Indirect means cooking an item on the outer edges of a grill's hot flames.

For a charcoal grill's fire (as an explanation)---

Lets say you have a charcoal grill that is round, maybe a 20 inch Weber kettle grill. You pour in the charcoal, 30 briquettes , light it and get a good fire going. Most of the charcoal is mounded in the center of the bottom coal grate, the briquettes aren't spread out over the entire bottom grate in a single layer but as mentioned mounded 2-3-4 on top of each other in perhaps a 12-14 inch center area of your 20 inch round grill's bottom grate. The coals are burning and turning white so you place the (1) cooking surface grill where you will actually place the item you wish to cook on top of the burning coals. Once again the burning coals are in a 12-14 inch center area of your 20 inch round grill's bottom grate mounded 2-3-4-5 on top of each other.

Just a note---

This fire will be adequate to cook 4 or 5 pieces of chicken breast, 4 steaks or maybe 6 to 8 hamburgers. You already know that if you want to cook more items you need more charcoal so you either add it during cooking or have started a bigger fire.

For a gas or electric grill's fire (as an explanation)---

Lets say you have a gas or electric grill that is rectangular, maybe a 18 by 24 inch Sunbeam grill. The grill is divided into (3) surface grill sections where you will place the item to be cooked and (3) control knobs to regulate the flames heat. You turn all knobs to medium-high and the grill is heated for 15 minutes before it is hot enough to cook food items. The surface is pretty much the same temperature across all the grills sections---it's hot!

Just a note---

This fire will cook as much chicken or steak as you can put on the grills surface depending on how much fuel you have! Did you know that a full tank (standard size propane tank like sold in Wal-Mart or Target) weighs 20 pounds when full! When empty it is about 7 pounds. Put it on a scale and weigh it if it weighs 8 pound you will probably run out of fuel. By the way 1 pound of fuel will burn for 30 minutes on high if you have a standard size 18x24 inch grill like the same one described above.

Move it around---

You can’t just put a piece of meat on the grill and forget about it. Due to the different temperatures on the grills surface, the center is super hot and the outer edges not, you must sear the meat in the center and then move it to less hot sections to finish the cooking without burning the item. Round grills have a “heat zone” radiating out from the center to the edges. What about a rectangular gas, electric or even charcoal grill. The key here is to set the temperatures at different levels creating a 3 or 4 “heat zone” for cooking. One area is very hot like the center of a round charcoal grill, another is area is less hot, a third and fourth is less hot than the previous area. Here we have a searing area, a browning area and even a slow roasting area where the finish cooking takes place. Moving the item around is really the key to a good grilled item. Sear a 1 inch steak and let the grills hot grates put grill marks on it for 1 minute, turn it so the steak moves 90 degrees and you will get a crosshatch grill mark on it, cook another 1 minute. Turn it over and do the same. Then place it on the medium low “heat zone” to finish cooking to the doneness you like, you would cook a 1 inch steak for about 8 minutes using this method for medium-rare but use a thermometer and check for a 124 degree F. temperature at the center of the steak for medium-rare. You won’t burn your steaks using this method. It is also good for chicken, ribs and larger cuts of meat. The direct method of grilling would burn the meat much before the center would even become warm. Yes this is also indirect grilling as discussed earlier but done on a rectangular grill. If your rectangular grill is charcoal you can rake the hot coals into to piles at either end of the grill and use the radiating heat that is created in the center as your cool or roasting zone. It may also be used for the area where you add wood chips. Drip pans may be placed in this area so the juices aren’t wasted or you may add vegetables and wine to it for pan gravy.

Cover the grill---

Most grills have covers and vents on the bottom of the grill to regulate the fires temperature and to slow or speed-up the burning process. You can think of the grill now as an oven and to do so think of oven temperatures of 350 degree F or 400 degrees F. Use an oven thermometer if you grill doesn’t have its own. I particularly like to use the cover when cooking spareribs. I first sear them over hot coals, move them to the roasting and browning zones to give them color and then put on the cover to slow roast them at about 325 degrees F. with a few wood chips. I need to regulate the are follow through the vents to reduce the fires burning and or turn down the gas flame on some of the burners to achieve a lower temperature. During the 30 or 45 minutes of slow roasting I am regulating the fire buy opening vets, taking the cover off briefly, turning up the gas and even adding more wood chips and turning and basting the ribs. Phew, it’s a lot of work! In my former restaurant the main cooking implement was a gas lava rock grill 30 inches buy 24 with 4 burners. Each burner was set to a different heat so I had the “heat zones” set for the menus needs. I could direct grill a thinly pounded breast of chicken in two minutes with out burning it. A aged sirloin steak was seared on the hottest side of the grill, it was marked (the lines that grilling produces when the meat comes in contact with the hot grill grates). This is actually a technique that chefs learn to decorate the items surface with perfect cross hatch marks. After the searing and marking the steak was moved to the medium zone to finish cooking. Rack of lamb a was seared on all sides and then moved to the slow roasting zone and tented with a piece of aluminum foil to act as a cover for slow roasting. Salmon filets where seared and marked, then placed in the slow zone to finish cooking. Constantly during the evening I was scraping and cleaning the grill so it was clean of carbon deposits and cooking residue. If a breast of chicken was marinated in curry powder and cooked on the grill, then the grill not cleaned, the next salmon filet would taste like curry when it wasn’t supposed to. That is why wire brushes and damp paper towels are very important for cleaning the grills surface when cooking different items. It is also important to prevent allergic reactions.

Beef Brisket

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, spice rub of paprika, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and ground black pepper.

Beef Flank, Skirt or Blade Steaks

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Beef Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, oregano, garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Beef Ribs

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, rice wine, 5 spice powder salt and ground black pepper.

Beef, Round, Eye Round, Chuck, Top Round, Top Sirloin or Rump Steaks

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, a few drops of soy sauce, salt and ground black pepper.

Beef, Sirloin, T-Bone, Rib-Eye, Porterhouse or Filet Mignon (Tenderloin)

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Vegetable oil, a few drops of soy sauce, salt and ground black pepper.

Chicken Breast Cutlets

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, chopped parsley and fresh basil.

Chicken Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, chopped parsley, fresh basil and oregano.

Chicken Pieces with Skin

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, chopped parsley, thyme and lemon juice.

Chicken Pieces without Skin

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, chopped parsley, thyme and lemon juice.

Chicken, Boneless

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, chopped parsley, thyme and lemon juice.

Fish Filets

Method of grilling to use: Direct or on a fish grate
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, thyme, chives and lemon juice.

Fish Filets or Steaks

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, fresh rosemary, chives and a few drops of soy sauce.

Fish, Lobster or Crab

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, fresh tarragon, chives and a few drops of soy sauce.

Fish; Clams, Mussels and Oysters

Method of grilling to use: Direct until shells open
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt, ground white pepper, fresh thyme, chives, white wine and garlic.

Fish; Shrimp

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, Cajun seasonings, salt and ground black pepper

Fish; Seafood Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, fresh rosemary, chives, salt and ground ground white pepper.

Lamb Chops

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect grilling after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Lamb Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and ground black pepper.

Lamb Leg

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, thyme, red wine, salt and ground black pepper.

Lamb Patties

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and ground black pepper.

Pork Chops

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Canola oil, garlic, sage, salt and ground black pepper.

Pork Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Canola oil, garlic, thyme, white wine, salt and ground black pepper.

Pork Shoulder

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Canola oil, garlic, dry rub BBQ spices, salt and ground black pepper; baste with seasoned rice wine vinegar.

Pork Spare Ribs

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Sesame oil, garlic, fresh ginger, a few drops of soy sauce, salt and ground black pepper.

Pork Tenderloin

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Pork, Baby Back Ribs

Method of grilling to use: Indirect
Seasoning Suggestion: Canola oil, garlic, chili powder, salt and ground black pepper.

Veal Chops

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, salt and ground black pepper.

Veal Cutlets

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, thyme, chopped parsley, salt and ground black pepper.

Veal Kidneys

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, minced shallots, sherry wine, salt and ground black pepper.

Calves Liver

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, sage, salt and ground black pepper.

Veal Sweet Breads

Method of grilling to use: Direct
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, minced shallots, salt and ground black pepper.

Vegetable Kabobs

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, thyme, white wine, salt and ground black pepper.

Vegetables

Method of grilling to use: Indirect after searing
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, salt and ground black pepper.

BBQ; Hamburger

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Canola oil, salt and ground black pepper.

BBQ; Hot Dogs

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect grilling after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Salt.

BBQ; Mixed Grill

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect grilling after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and ground black pepper.

BBQ; Sausages

Method of grilling to use: Direct if thin or indirect grilling after searing, watch out for flare-ups
Seasoning Suggestion: Salt.

A note on grilling, Chef A. Escoffier, 1903

(Grilling and Barbecue Links Click Here)

rev. 08/14

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