Archive for March, 2012

How to Grill Hamburgers

Hamburgers are perhaps the most common food we cook on the grill. Grilling a burger is more than just tossing a frozen patty on the grate over an open flame, however. Sure, this method works, and produces an acceptable result, but learning how to grill hamburgers that are truly great takes a bit more effort.

Preparing to Grill a Great Hamburger

Mastering the art of how to grill hamburgers starts with selecting great beef. This does not mean that you need to run out to the finest butcher shop and purchase the most expensive ground sirloin or round, but it does mean that you need to understand what makes one type of ground beef different from another. Lean ground beef does not have enough fat content to produce a juicy burger, but if your beef is too fatty it will take on an unpleasant greasiness that seeps into everything and makes a soggy bun.

It is generally recommended that you use ground beef that has about an 80% to 20% lean to fat ratio. If you are purchasing your beef pre-ground, ground chuck works fine for hamburgers. To upgrade the flavor of your burger, purchase some fattier ground chuck and blend it with a more flavorful ground sirloin. Perhaps the most ideal way to achieve great beef for your burger  would be to grind it yourself. For do-it-yourself grinding, use a 3 – 2 – 1 ratio of chuck, sirloin, and short rib meat. This will produce both an ideal beefy flavor and the right amount fat, creating the perfect texture.

How to Grill Hamburgers with the Perfect Seasoning

When it comes to burger seasonings, the best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Many outdoor chefs like to load their beef patties with onions, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings, and even ranch powder. At some point, however, with all of the seasonings, one tends to venture from the world of hamburgers to the world of “grilled, flattened meatballs.” They may be good in their own right, but they have lost their hamburger essence. Quite frankly, a wealth of seasonings is often likely to mask a poorly grilled burger.

Remember that beef has a wonderful flavor of its own, and does not need much seasoning to bring that out. Especially if you have invested extra money in a good beef blend, you don’t want that flavor to be lost in the fray of competing seasonings. The best way to season a hamburger is with salt and pepper on both sides. You can also add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce while it is grilling to enhance the beefy flavor. This way, you will be able to enjoy the beef flavor like never before. How to Grill Hamburgers

The Right Grill Technique for a Perfect Burger

For a great burger, get the grill to a temperature on the upper end of medium-high. Start with the temperature around 450 – 475. Just before putting the patties on the grill, season them on both sides with salt and pepper. It is important not to let the salted patties sit for very long before putting them on the grill.

Let the burger sit on the grate until it releases easily for flipping. When it releases from the grate with minimal effort, you know you have achieved the right sear on that side. Flip the burger over and let that side obtain the desired sear marks. If your grill is hot enough, you will have a nicely seared, borderline crispy, exterior with a moist, medium doneness on the interior.

How to Grill Fish

Grilling fish can be an intimidating endeavor. Most fish are delicate and overcook easily, and the harsh conditions of the grill can cause the fish to break up into an inedible mess. However, cooking fish on the grill does not have to be difficult! Just follow these general guidelines for success.

How to Grill Fish: Understanding the Basics

Fish is a delicate meat, and most of the small white fish found at supermarkets are unsuitable for grilling because of their light profile. Because of the relative lack of fat and collagen in their muscles, fish tend to flake apart and overcook easily. For the best fish on the grill, look for a more robust fish such as salmon or tuna. Halibut and sturgeon are also excellent choices, along with mahi mahi, swordfish, and shark. If you are new to grilling fish, you should avoid smaller fish like tilapia and trout because of their tendency to fall apart on the grill grate.

How to Grill Fish: Citrus Salmon

Citrus flavors pair well with the robust flavor profile of salmon. Properly grilled, this recipe produces a rich and tender fillet that flakes apart with just the right amount of moisture. One thing to note about salmon is its place of origin. In the United States, salmon comes either from the Atlantic or North Pacific. Remember that Atlantic salmon is almost always a farmed breed, while pacific salmon is caught wild. Wild salmon generally out-flavors it’s farmed counterpart, so buy pacific salmon when you can.

1) If your salmon is frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator if possible. If you do not have time to defrost the salmon in the refrigerator, place it in a bowl under cold running water. Never defrost salmon in the microwave. This will ruin the fish.

2) Sprinkle a coarse citrus seasoning blend on both sides of the salmon. Wrap loosely in aluminum foil.

3) Grill the salmon on a 350 degree grill for about 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

4) Mix some of your citrus seasoning with mayonnaise for an easy dipping sauce that enhances the flavor of the fish. How to Grill Fish

How to Grill Fish: Planked Halibut

Purchase a good set of cedar grilling planks for this recipe. Remember to soak the plank in water before grilling in order to get multiple uses from the plank.

1) Preheat the grill to between 350 and 375; soak an appropriate number of grill planks in water.

2) Season both sides of the halibut fillets with salt and pepper. Lay fresh dill on top of the fish, and then thinly sliced lemon on top of that.

3) Grill the halibut on the planks until it flakes easily with a fork, usually around 15 to 20 minutes.

4) Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

How to Grill Brisket

The brisket is a very large, flavorful, and versatile cut of beef. Its large size combined with a unique blend of fat, collagen, and long muscle fibers make brisket an ideal cut for many dishes.

How to Grill Brisket: Texas Style

The most common method of grilling brisket involves a subtle seasoning profile, if any seasonings are used at all. This method produces what most think of as “Texas style” BBQ brisket. This type of brisket is cooked to the point where the fat and collagen break down completely, leaving nothing but tender meat fiber that pulls apart easily. These meat fibers are either pulled apart by hand or chopped, producing either pulled or chopped brisket barbecue.

How to Grill Brisket: General Considerations

Texas style brisket is a relatively simple affair. The basic recipe and procedure follow. Keep in mind that the recipe here ought to serve only as a guideline. Everyone has different tastes and preferences. A large piece of meat like brisket is very forgiving and will likely turn out very tasty no matter how you may botch up the recipe. So rest easy knowing that though you may venture far and wide with your seasoning blend, you are almost guaranteed a delicious result. The only way you could mess up a smoked brisket is by not cooking it at all. With that in mind, experiment away. How to grill brisket

How to Grill Brisket: Procedure

1) Assemble a basic BBQ meat rub for your brisket. About half of this rub ought to be kosher salt, with another quarter of the rub being brown sugar. From there, typically you would use around 10% to 15% chili powder, or other generally spicy seasoning. The rest can be a mix of aromatic seasonings, the most dominant being onion and garlic powder.

2) Apply your rub generously to the entire exterior of your brisket. Massage the rub into the meat with a firm hand; you want to get as much flavor into the meat as possible.

3) Tightly wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 3 days. In general, the longer your brisket has to absorb the seasoning flavors, the better. This is known as a dry brine.

4) 8 to 12 hours before you plan to eat your brisket, light a fire in the smoker and stabilize the temperature around 200-225 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay in a few chunks of hickory or mesquite wood for smoke flavor and wait until they begin producing strong smoke before you lay on the brisket.

5) Smoke the brisket at 200 – 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 – 12 hours, until the internal temperature reaches at least 195 degrees.

6) Remove the brisket from the grill and pull it apart for sandwiches or other serving styles. Brush on sauce as desired and enjoy!

Tuna on the Grill

Tuna is a robust meat, perfect for grilling and bringing great flavor to your table. As would be expected from any seafood, tuna is much different from “turf” meats such as beef and pork. Follow these guidelines to ensure your tuna turns out right.

Understanding your meat

When we hear the word “tuna” many of us think about the white or gray meat that comes in a can that served us well as a hockey puck when we were young. While it has provided many hours of fun for the active body and imagination, canned tuna gives a poor impression of the meat: dry, crumbly, packed in grainy water, and only edible when mixed with other foods. This canned tuna gains such a flavor and texture profile because of the high temperatures required by the canning process. If your only exposure to tuna is in its canned form, now is the time to try a tuna steak. Fresh tuna is nothing like its canned counterpart. When properly cooked, it is moist and flavorful. It pairs well with mild citrus flavors, but can easily stand on its own, seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper.

Tuna on the Grill

Ensuring your Tuna on the Grill is successful


Tuna is a more delicate meat than beef or pork. Compared to most other fish, however, tuna is a very robust meat. If you have never grilled seafood before, be aware that fish cooks much faster and dries out more easily than beef or pork. Tuna is best grilled over high heat for a short amount of time. This achieves a good sear on the outside, but leaves the inside of the tuna steak moist and rare. For best results, ensure that your grill is burning hot and even. You should be able to hold your hand an inch above the grate for about 1 second before snapping it away from the heat. For a simple tuna steak, brush the tuna on all sides with good olive oil before sprinkling with salt and pepper. Place the tuna on the grill immediately and flip the steak once, when the first side takes on a good color. Keep in mind that you are grilling the steak to color the exterior and set the seasonings. The goal is to refrain from cooking the steak through.

Flavor Combinations for Tuna on the Grill

The method above is a simple but elegant way to grill tuna. Many variations exist. Because it is a lighter meat, tuna cannot stand up to heavy BBQ sauces or robust rub mixes. The fish is best adorned with simple citrus flavors that brighten the flavor and keep from overpowering the meat.

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Lamb on the Grill

Lamb has experienced a surge of popularity in the past few years among home chefs. This fine and delicate meat is typically imported and relatively expensive, so if you are preparing for a grilled lamb dinner, you want to get it right. Follow these guidelines for success with your grilled lamb.

General Information About Lamb on the Grill

Many remember a not-so-distant past when lamb was a common occurrence on the family table. Several decades later, the evolution of industrial food has convinced us that every meal ought to have a large chunk of meat at its center. Beef and pork are ideal for this meal style, with their large muscles and forgiving meat to fat ratio. It is helpful that beef and pork come from large animals that can be raised on a diet consisting almost entirely of corn based products. Lamb began to lose popularity because the meat is leaner and easier to overcook, and a single animal does not produce the volume of meat offered by cows or pigs. As a result, cows and pigs began to replace sheep on American farms, relegating lamb to only the finest menus – and budgets.

With the recent renewed interest in healthy eating and sustainable farming, there is a corresponding renewed interest in lamb as a part of the regular meal. Many are realizing that one does not need twelve to sixteen ounces of meat in an evening meal to gain satisfaction. Now a four to six ounce lamb chop is plenty when accompanied with a variety of other side dishes. The smaller meat size also helps with the budgetary concerns of putting lamb on the table.Lamb on the Grill

Best Grilling Practices for Lamb

Lamb is a delicate meat. A novice outdoor chef will quickly realize that this meat must be treated differently from beef. Because it is a leaner meat, lamb should be cooked over a grill with maximum heat distribution. This means the charcoal ought to be burning evenly. The best way to experience lamb is just the way it is, with minimal flavor added or taken away. This is a premium type of meat that can speak for itself without the help of steak seasoning or fruity sauces.

At least 45 minutes before putting your lamb on the grill, season it with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until about 15 minutes before cooking. Stabilize the grill at medium high heat and make sure that it is burning evenly before placing the lamb on your grill. Cook the lamb to medium rare, which will happen relatively quickly.

Final Considerations for Lamb on the Grill

As has been mentioned on this site before, one of the most important steps in grilling is to allow your meat to rest. Lamb is no exception. Be sure to rest your meat for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to soak back into the meat fibers, tenderizing and flavoring your meat.

Lamb can be an intimidating meat to grill. It is expensive and people expect a lot of you when you announce that lamb will be the main course for dinner. Remember to keep it simple with minimal seasonings and a quick sear on the grill for an elegant end result.

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