A summer grill out is a great opportunity to gather with friends and family and bond over a common love of food and fellowship. It is also a great way to reconnect, unwind and enjoy the season. However, while all grill outs start the same, some wind up standing out as culinary adventures. What makes the difference? Today I will teach you some Chef tricks that will make you stand out from the rest of the backyard barbeque set. I will teach you how to baste like a Chef, season like a Chef and finish like a Chef. We all start with the same basic ingredients in a cookout like steak, chicken, pork or seafood but the serious grill masters treat those items a little different than the rest of the pack.
First, a few professional tips
- Never use a spatula to press down on grilling meat. It removes all the juice and dries out your finished product.
- If you can regulate your heat, start grilling very hot and reduce your heat to finish your cooking.
- Always let your meats rest (chicken, pork, beef) for 5-10 minutes after grilling. The juices will not leak out as soon as you cut it.
- DON’T play with your food. Flip the foods only once during cooking.
- The little touches make the big difference. Seasonings, toppings and bastes earn you the King or Queen of the grill title every time.
Baste like a Chef – A quality baste to go on when cooking makes a huge difference in the finished product. It adds flavor, moisture and sheen to a great cup of meat. Never use a brush or use the baste for a finishing sauce after cooking, chances are that sauce has been in contact with raw meat and hasn’t been properly cooked. Use a spoon to drizzle this sauce on during cooking with no contact with the meat.
Midwestern Classic Baste
8 ounces of butter, melted
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 T Kosher or sea salt
1.5 teaspoon of ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients. Hold this sauce close to the grill so the butter does not harden and watch for flare ups when using this sauce, the butter fat with flare up on the grill.
Season like a Chef – All great chefs have a mix of seasonings, herbs and spices that differentiate them from everyone else. Its easy for you to develop an all purpose seasoning that reflects your personality, places that you have been or family heritage that makes you unique. Create your own version but fee free to use this one that I frequently use. It represents some spice from my time in New Mexico, some sweet from my Kentucky roots and some aromatics form my love of gardening.
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container for up to one year. Every Christmas, I made a large batch and put it in to Mason jars to give out to all of the cooks in the family. It never fails to get lots of great photos and texts all year about how the seasoning is being used that weekend.
Finish like a Chef – All Chef’s use some kind of a great finish before serving their meals. It could be as simple as a sauce, a compound butter, a flavorful topping, extra virgin olive oil or fresh herbs. I’ve included a blue cheese butter below that is excellent with steaks, grilled pork and burgers.
Blue Cheese Butter
8 ounces of quality blue cheese. Buy it as a cut wedge, not the plastic cups of pre crumbled
8 ounces of softened butter
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon fresh chopped chives or green onions.
Combine all ingredients except fresh herbs in a mall stand mixer or food processor, combine until well mixed. Fold in fresh herbs and freeze as a roll in plastic wrap or in a very small ice cube tray that is well wrapped. Wrapped, this product can be held frozen for up to 4 months. When meat is ready to serve, top it with a small portion of the blue cheese butter and let the heat of the item soften the butter.