We had an early spring here in Indiana, and grilling season is well underway. We inaugurated our grill a couple weeks ago with two racks of baby back pork ribs, made our special way – simmered in beer, onions and Old Bay seasoning, then grilled HOT with Smokin’ Joe Jones barbecue sauce (we get it on Netrition) until the sauce has a bit of nice char and the meat is falling off the bones.
Today, my husband Paul, the undisputed grillmeister, cooked plain, simple hamburgers.
Half-pound hamburgers, blissfully seasoned, crunchy on the outside, spurting juice on the inside. Paul and I like our steaks fairly rare, but hamburger is riskier, so we straddle the fine line between cooking it thoroughly while still keeping it juicy. Paul eats his on low-carb bread (from Trader Joe’s) with cheese, Heinz 1-carb catsup and sliced onion. I eat mine on a toasted Muffin in a Minute bun with cheese, mayo, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. The wonderful grill “crust” crunches when I bite into it, and juice runs down my chin and my wrist.
In honor of grilling season, I’m going to pass on a few of Paul’s precious grill secrets. Take notes, Grasshopper, and learn from the master.
Hamburgers. Ground chuck and only ground chuck. As Danny Glover says in Lethal Weapon 3, “You cut the fat, you cut the flavor.” Add your seasonings of choice and leave well enough alone; hamburgers don’t need “ingredients.” Make your patties thicker at the edges than the middle; otherwise you’ll end up with a meatball instead of a patty. And for goodness’ sake, don’t mash your burgers down while they’re cooking!
Steaks. Now, here’s a disclaimer: Paul and I like our steaks black on the outside and rare in the middle, which isn’t to everyone’s taste. But if that’s how you like your steaks, cut them thick and cook them hot to get that crusty exterior while saving that rare, juicy middle!
Lean pork and chicken. Any pork and chicken can benefit from a marinade, but lean pork chops, and even more so boneless skinless chicken breasts, need marinade. A couple of our favorites are: Beer and jerk seasoning; olive oil, lemon, garlic and Italian seasoning; and beer and lemon pepper. It’s not rocket science. Put your marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag or plastic storage container. Add your meat. Shake vigorously. Put in your refrigerator and let sit overnight, or at the very least a couple hours. Vegetables don’t need to hydrate in the marinade, so a few minutes is fine for them.
Grill tips. Always have your grill nice and hot before you put your meat on it so it won’t stick. And don’t poke holes in your meat! Turn your food with tongs, not a fork! Don’t overcook your food – it’ll continue cooking after you take it off the grill, so take it off just a little early and let it rest before you eat it. Yes, these are very simple tips, but that’s because they’re common mistakes.
Fire it up!