The Chef’s Office
Fire Up That Grill
Well it’s that time of year again…and for some of us it never stopped, just ask Chef Tom…
This edition is going to be offered in two parts. This issue is going to be on grilling and the second part is going to be on brining, marinating and smoking meats and seafood, along with fun stuff that we could do on the grill including Chef T’s grilled pizza.
Like a lot of people, there is nothing better than firing up the grill and cooking up some steak, smoking some pork butts and seafood and just enjoying the life that comes with doing BBQ’s with family and friends.
This newsletter was inspired by Sean, one of our new members at Culinary Artists Chef It Up, asking about grilling steaks so that they don’t resemble marinated Birkenstock’s. I hope you enjoy this issue and that we add some insight to help you have a great time with friends and family this summer…
I have enjoyed being a part of your group I have learned a great
deal. It’s summer and I want to learn how to grill steaks so that
people will come back for more. What kind of steaks should I look for, what should I be looking for when it comes to steaks. I tried grilling the steaks one time and my shoe was softer. So If anyone has any suggestion or tips I would greatly appreciate any and all help
Heather got to Sean’s question before Cheffy got to it and I really didn’t have a lot to add, she definitely touched base on a lot of the important factors in assuring that you wind up with an excellent product…Good stuff Heather, thanks for sharing…
The key to great steaks relies on 2 important factors....the cut of meat you have, and the temp of your grill.
Choose cuts of beef from either the loin or rib section and with either a prime or choice USDA grade. The name of the cut will usually have the section it came from in the same...such as "rib eye" or sirloin etc...sometimes not such as porterhouse...which comes from the loin. The meats from this section are muscle groups that arent "worked" when the animal is alive, and therefore more tender due to lack of certain tissues that build during physical activity.
Most meats from the rib or loin only need very hot and quick cooking methods such as broiling or grilling. The hotter your grill and the quicker you cook the meat will determine the outcome of the tenderness of your steaks. Also...knowing the different temps for rare..med rare...med...med well...well are important. It takes some experience to get the feel when a steak has reached a certain temp inside without having to poke a thermometer in it to make sure.
One trick that I learned is a little bit easier. By looking at the palm of your hand...note the meaty part of the bottom of your palm starting from the base of your thumb to the top of your wrist...starting at the wrist, press with your finger to feel its firmness...the closer you are to the base of your thumb, the higher the temp or the more done your meat will be. The steak will have a similar firmness to this part of your palm. Soon...if you practice enough...you wont need to measure with your palm...or a thermometer.
The idea in cooking steak is cook them quickly. The grill is a source of dry heat which can rob your steaks of precious moisture if cooked too long. the grill must be at temp before you place any meat on it. Once hot, place your meats on the grill...if making med rare for example...cook about 2-3 mins on each side. Cooking them quickly like this on a hot grill...sears in the juices so they wont leak out of your steak, leaving them dry, tough and flavorless. Speaking of flavor...definitely season and flavor your steaks before the grilling process...however, if using a bbq sauce or any other marinade that has a high sugar content, place on the meat just before it is ready to come off of the grill to prevent the charred, burnt to a crisp crust of burnt sauce. Perfectly beautiful steak will have those lovely grill marks on them...to achieve those you must place your steak on the grill...after 30 secs to 1 min you will see marks...once the first marks can be seen without turning the steak over...rotate slightly to either the right or left to create another set of marks...hopefully making a "diamond" shape when crossed over the first marks. Do the same to the other side when steak is ready to be turned over. Also minimize turning the steaks over...they should only be turned once. handling them will release the juices inside and leave your steaks dry. Dont ever walk away from your grill when you have steaks on them. They change temp in seconds...not minutes and you don’t want to disappoint those you are cooking for with a steak that is overdone.
I hope this info could be of help to you and start you off in the right direction to some great steak. Happy grilling!!
Cheffy’s reply to Heather…
This sounds like the next couple editions of the Chef's Office...
So tell me about your favorite marinades, sauces, rubs, cuts of meat or other favorite proteins to use, woods used to smoke with, blah, blah, blah... you get the message...
(Chef Tom's 'Chef T's Chipotle BBQ Sauce' definitely included)
Heather that was very informative, pretty much hit everything on the head...I was originally going to answer the question but you hit on all the important issues...good stuff...
Chef Tom of Excalibur Foods replied:
Thanks for the plug...just made a batch of sauce this past weekend. It's always time to grill...it's just more enjoyable when you aren't the only one by the grill freezing your "pork butt" off in the winter or bad weather!
My favorite things to grill (or smoke) are... pork (any cut, but the most used by myself are butts and tenderloins), tuna, grouper, marinated vegetables, pizza over mesquite.
My favorite woods are apple, cherry, hickory and mesquite (in that order)
I was in Jamaica in '93 and tried authentic jerk for the first time and they use Pimento wood...very nice.
Favorite styles of marinades and preparations...
Southwestern / Asian are equal favorites (It's those damn hot peppers...I just like that flavor!), Caribbean, Southern / Cajun
My favorite sauces and rubs are by this guy who I know quite well...these are his products.
Say no more...time to find something to throw on the fire.
Tom (Chef T)
Stay tuned for the next episode of the Chef’s Office Newsletter to learn more about the use of pimento wood and other smoking techniques and ideas from Cheffy and his friends.
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