Chef John shares some of his favorite recipes and tips for that summertime essential: grilling! These recipes will have you rethinking the grill as your passport to alluring international flavors. Read on for Chef John's best grilling tips and tricks. And remember, these tips aren't just good ideas; they're the law!
Chef John’s 7 Laws of Grilling
There’s nothing better than standing in front of a hot, smoky, crackling, meat-filled grill. Armed with just a cold beer in one hand and grill tongs in the other, I summon the ancient cooking meat-over-fire knowledge we’re all born with. Or cooking vegetables. I don’t judge. Anyway, they say the moment we started cooking with fire was when we truly became civilized -- which is why I believe that anytime we’re grilling, we still feel that magic deep down inside. And you can keep the magic alive with these fresh, new approaches to your grill.
1. Use a probe thermometer. Don’t be a hero. As we say in the business, “There’s no money in guessing.” Cook Chef John's Grilled Greek Chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).
2. Grill your bread. After your meat is cooked and resting, use the still-hot coals (or grate) to quickly grill your bread. Everybody knows grilled bread is the best bread. But if you’re going to burn the bread, skip this step. Everybody knows burnt bread is the worst bread. Grill the bread or buns when you make Chef John's amazing Lamb Merguez Sausage Patties.
3. Trim the fat. Internal marbling is a magnificent thing for meat heading to the grill, but large amounts of external fat will cause the flames to flare. Trim fat down to ¼ inch or less. Try Chef John's Grilled Flap Steak.
4. Use a cheap pair of long metal tongs. No fancy grips, no high-tech designs -- just durability and performance. Line cooks know. You can find them at restaurant-supply stores. Long tongs will come in handy when you're flipping Chef John's Grilled Spanish Mustard Beef.
5. Don’t oil vegetables before you grill them. Excess oil will drip and vaporize, causing that terrible “gasoline” aftertaste everyone hates. Instead, wipe the grates with a little oil, grill those veggies first, and then drizzle with oil (or other dressing). Try this technique with Chef John's Mexican Grilled Corn.
6. Don’t wear an apron. Keep a few old t-shirts around if you’re really worried about stains, but no one, repeat no one, ever looked cool grilling in a apron. Unless it’s one of those “Kiss the Cook” aprons. Those are fine. Go apron-free, if you dare, when you make Chef John's Barbecue Chicken.
7. NEVER offer unsolicited advice when someone is grilling. It’s simply not done. Insulting your grillmaster host that way is much worse than eating dry chicken. (By the way, don’t overcook the chicken.)
Want more? Explore Chef John's 10 Best Recipes for the Grill. Also check out the complete collection of Chef John Recipes.
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Originally published in Allrecipes magazine, June/July/August, 2017.