Hot tips to improve your grill skills
When it comes to the Canadian diet, barbecue is a summer staple. But according to Chef Darrin Bruck, a professional chef of 20 years, we're not always using our grills to their full potential and we are missing out.
"One of the biggest misunderstandings about a grill is that it's all about high-heat cooking, but that's not everything," Bruck says. "When we're barbecuing, we're looking at developing as much flavour as we can — from the fat dripping down, to the heat source, to the grill marks, to seasoning our product."
Whether you're grilling meat, fish or vegetables, there are easy adjustments you can make to up the appeal and the delicious factor of all your favourite foods.
Get your meal off the grill in one piece
Avoid a tug of war with your barbecue by prepping and seasoning your grill.
"One of the biggest mistakes is not oiling your grill down," Chef Bruck says. "There are pores in the metal you are cooking on. It doesn't matter if you have cast-iron or stainless steel grill plates — they both have pores and they only open up when the metal is hot. This is the point you want to add oil to the grill. That oil is going to be absorbed into the small pores of the metal and that will prevent the food from sticking."
- Heat grill to your cooking temperature
- Clean your barebcue with a grill brush and remove any old food particles
- Wipe a low smoke-point oil — grapeseed or canola — on your grill until it has a nice sheen
- Add more oil if the shine goes away before you've started cooking your food
"My go-to rule is oil the grill, oil your product," Bruck says. "If both are oiled, you will have beautiful grill marks."
Those grill marks don't just look nice — they're also a key source of flavour.
Infuse that flavour
When it comes to meat, there are ways to magnify flavour from the inside out.
"A lot of home barbecue cooks simply salt and pepper their product and that's it."
From brines to rubs, there are many different flavours you can add to your meat. Bruck recommends adding this to your meat at least four hours ahead of time.
"Instead of just having flavour on the outside layer of your product, those flavors will start to permeate into the entire piece of protein and your flavour profile is just going to skyrocket."
Multiple heat sources are your friend
Just like your oven, cooking temperature isn't a one-size-fits-all.
"The beautiful thing about the grill is there are multiple heat sources. Regulate that by turning off one side of the grill and holding the hot side of the grill at approximately 300 - 350 degrees," Bruck explains.
"Once you have the grill marks on your food, move it to the side of the grill that doesn't have flame. You've now turned your grill into an oven."
This method is particularly useful for larger pieces of meat and will help you avoid an overcooked exterior and undercooked interior.
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