The Other Side of Grilling

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The afternoon sun pounding down your back, smells of fresh cut
grass and charred meats in the air, a cold beer in one hand and
a spatula in the other. At last . . . summer grilling season has
arrived. I’m convinced that one of life’s most primal
experiences is standing over raw meat and an open flame.

In my family, when it comes to cooking, mom has always been somewhat
of a miracle worker. Her ‘kitchen space’ is her own world,
and if you have any hope in getting one of her famous meals, you’d
best stay out of her kitchen. The grill, however, is always
dad’s domain. Rain or shine, dad tends the flames. As men,
it’s in our nature to take charge of the fire.

Let’s get one thing clear. There is a fine line between grilling
and BBQ’ing. As a Southerner, I fall into a pretty passionate
culture regarding these two distinctions. For those raised in the
South, grilling out typically refers to cooking items over direct
heat on a grill, ex. grilled steaks, chicken, hamburgers, etc. BBQ
is a whole different ballgame. It’s a lifestyle of love, patience,
smoke, and mystery. Ask ten men on how to smoke a pork shoulder
and you are likely to get ten independent, and fiercely debated,
methods. With that said, I’m not here to cause friction.

Instead, I’d like to let you in on a little known fact regarding
grilling. Most of you are probably not grilling enough. There, I
said it.

Your grill is truly the beast of all your culinary appliances.
With the proper technique and know-how, you can utilize your grill
as a stove, broiler, oven, and smoker; all-in-one. By harnessing
all of the grill’s power, you are able to expand well beyond
foods typically considered traditional for the grill. In other words,
it’s time to get creative and think outside the burger box.

I’ve outlined a great summer meal that ups the ante on traditional
cookout fare. Anybody can grill a hamburger or a hot dog. Stand
out amongst the crowd by offering up these items the next time you
entertain. Your guests will be impressed that you had
them over
.

Get outside, tend the flames, crack open a cold beer, and get to
work!

Definitions and Methods

In order to maximize your results, it’s good to understand
a few basic terms and methods. Most grilling recipes will always
state whether items should be cooked over direct or indirect heat.
Whether you are using gas or charcoal, it’s a good idea to
set up different “hot points” over the grate. Essentially,
you will want to maximize your grilling space based on the items
you are cooking. If you are cooking several steaks, you will want
the entire surface to be scorching hot. However, if you are also
going to be preparing some grilled vegetables, you will want part
of the grill devoted to lower heat. As most gas-burning grills contain
separate burners, this is fairly easy to control. When working with
charcoal, however, you will want to create piles of different height
and density to get varying temperature zones. Formal definitions
and setups follow for getting the most out of your grill.

  • Direct Heat – to cook by direct exposure to the
    heat source

  • In-Direct Heat – to cook by offsetting the heat
    source from the food
  • Stovetop – place a sauté pan or skillet directly
    on the grate over direct heat
  • Broiler – place items on the grate over direct heat
  • Oven – place items over indirect heat with the lid
    closed
  • Smoker – place items over indirect heat with the
    lid closed. Soaked wood chips can be used on the coals to enhance
    smoke flavor.

The Meal

Grilled Caesar Salad – Be adventurous and give the
homemade dressing a try. If you are cramped for time, this whole
salad can be simplified with store-bought croutons and dressing.
Grilling the hearts of romaine lettuce will create a nice smoky
flavor, while also creating a warm contrast to the cool, crisp layers
of the rest of the salad.

Dressing

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced fine
  • 2 Anchovy Filets, minced fine
  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Finely Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • ½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

On a cutting board, combine the minced garlic, anchovies, and kosher
salt. Using a chef’s knife, work ingredients into a paste on
the board. Combine paste, egg, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar
into a large mixing bowl or food processor and mix vigorously for
at least one minute, until mixture is smooth and almost beige in
color. Add cheese and pepper and mix for another 30 seconds. Continue
to whisk/mix vigorously and slowly stream in olive oil at the same
time, to combine, or emulsify. Serve, or keep the dressing in the
refrigerator until ready, up to 2 days.

Salad

  • ½ Small French Baguette, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 1 Heart of Romaine Lettuce, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 oz Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Directions: Preheat grill over medium high. In a sauté
pan, lay out the French bread cubes in a single layer. Drizzle with
olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the bread
cubes to coat evenly with the oil and place over direct heat on
the grill. Sauté croutons 5–7 minutes, shaking on occasion,
until cubes are crisp and browned. Set croutons aside and allow
to cool. Next, add the hearts of romaine, cut side down and grill
for 45–90 seconds, or until nice grill marks appear. Immediately
remove from grill and place each half on a serving plate, grilled
side facing up. Top with croutons, cheese, and dressing. Serve immediately.

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the rest of the article

June
5, 2010

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