Jimmy Schmidt
Executive chef/Owner, Chianti on Main,Chianti Tuscan Grill, Rattlesnake Club, Detroit MI
, Author, Cooking Class: Seasonal Recipes from a Chef's Kitchen (Ten Speed Press), Cooking for all Seasons (MacMillan)

Never Fail Grill Tips

"when I was a kid in Illinois brings back memories of roasts and grills full of wonderful aromas that singled the start of summer. Being the youngest of the family I was drafted to crank the ice cream machine for the first of the summer's frozen treats. Now as a father of two the day is spent with my children helping prepare the meal as a kind of family cooking adventure, which is the best gift of all."

Preparing the grill:

I prefer hardwood charcoal and some mesquite for hotter applications. First start the charcoal allowing them to turn white on the edges then adding the mesquite. Cook over the fire as the charcoal and mesquite is white hot.

For gas grill applications here's a couple of options. First have a professional gas appliance company bore the gas orifices larger for increased gas flow. Second add more of the ceramic stones or "lava rocks" to the grill. This causes a little longer preheat time on the grill but has stored heat energy when you start the grill. This is not so important for fish but really important on larger cuts of steaks. Preheat the grill with the lid closed to maximize the stored heat energy. Clean the grill grate after preheating with a wire brush.

Take a couple of sheets of paper toweling and fold to get a 3 inch wide sheet. Roll the folded sheet tightly up and secure with a piece of kitchen twine, with the ends trimed. With a pair of long tongs, dip the paper toweling roll in cooking oil, allow the excess to run off then carefully rub across the surface of the brushed grill grate to season just prior to placing your seasoned food on the grill. This will prevent sticking and insure good searing of your food.

Add your seasoned foods to the hot part of the grill to intially sear and then move towards the sides or cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Thin cuts of fish, steaks and meat are best cooked less than a medium degree of doneness on the hot parts of the grill. Thicker, dense cuts of fish and meat are best to sear in the hotter areas then move to a cooler area of the grill to allow the heat to properly penetrate. Lower temperature is also necessary for cooking past medium to more well done temperatures. The grill temperature may also be lowered by moving the adjustable grill grate away from the fire or heat source.

Control flames from the grill with a squirt bottle containing water. You may also be able to control the flames by closing the grill and minimizing the air openings on the grill to snuff out the flame.

Must Have Grill Tools

  • Big industrial grill brush
  • Long stainless steel tongs
  • Long stainless spatula for burgers and such
  • Squirt bottle with water
  • Pepper mill for fresh ground pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Pocket thermometer (just to be sure for more well done cuts...I never use because I like almost everything rare!)

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