Grilling Tutorial

As a public school teacher, there is nothing more treasured than the time of the year
that we call summer. School’s out, I turn off my alarms, and officially become a lady of leisure.

Some people ask, “Do you get bored with all of your free time?” Umm, NO! Aside from savoring long walks with the dog, riding bikes and generally having no agenda, I love to grill. On hot summer days, it’s easiest to bring the heat of the kitchen outdoors and save having to wash pots and pans by throwing everything on the grill.

At the end of July, Tutorial to Table kicked off its first grilling tutorial on our outdoor terrace in Bedstuy.I ordered all of our groceries on Good Eggs. Shopping on Good Eggs is shopping seasonally. They only offer what’s fresh, local, and in season. Each order comes with something special, like a bouquet of hand picked wildflowers from Pretty Streets Botanicals.

We started the evening with lots of cuddling with my pooch Bella, then started prepping our dinner together.

Our menu consisted of:
Sriracha Glazed Chicken Skewers
Grassfed Beef Burgers
Charred Corn and Carrot Salad
Grilled Kale and Peach Salad

So, all the recipes are below. I’m going to hook you up with my grilling tips first; these are generally for a charcoal grill, my favorite kind for that yummy, charred taste.

The Tips.

Use a charcoal chimney to start your coals.

blog_post_photos_chimney

You can buy one at Home Depot for around $15 and they help get your coals blazing. We got ours as a gift from Will, who writes an awesome blog about beer and food tastings. Basically, you fill the chimney with coals, and put paper (could be paper from a brown paper bag or a newspaper) underneath. Light the paper, the smoke and fire will infiltrate and heat the coals. No lighter fluid necessary.Give it about 15-20 minutes and they’re blazing hot and ready to glow.

There will be hot spots and cooler spots.

If you pour your charcoals in the middle, the outer spots are cooler. If you pour them on the left side, the right side will be cooler. In some recipes, you want to be strategic about this because some foods don’t require direct blazing hot heat. Know your hot spots and not-so-hot spots and use your tongs to move things around accordingly. It’s great to get a nice char on your chicken skin in a hot spot, then move it to a cooler spot to cook the inside. It’s not great to leave it in the hot spot, burn the outside and undercook the inside. Grillmaster’s worst nightmare.

Get good utensils.

You can try using your current kitchenware, but grill utensils are designed to be longer so that your hands don’t have to get too close to the heat. You also don’t want to melt any of your current utensils – I recommend these simple tools from Weber. I mainly just use the tongs, the spatula once in awhile, and rarely use the fork.

More oxygen = more heat, less oxygen = less heat.

When you grill with the lid off, the coals are getting gulps of oxygen, which keeps them hot and blazing. When you cover the grill partially, the coals get less oxygen, and cools things down. If you cover the grill completely, including the air holes, you will suffocate your coals. Leave the holes open to keep the grill going (but obviously if you are done grilling and want it to cool, close the holes). I generally only put the lid on when I’m cooking chicken with bone in and skin on that needs a longer duration of time.

You can cook lots of things on a grill using different types of pans you already have.

Burger_Onion_Grill

Yesterday I grilled Korean-style scallion pancakes on the cast-iron that I threw on the grill. I regularly use a small metal baking pan to grill veggies that are cut up small that I don’t want to lose in the grill. Think about our more primal days – everyone cooked with fire; they just placed a big pot or spit over the fire. There was no low, medium, or high setting. You just figured out the hotter spots and the cooler spots and adjusted your cooking accordingly. There are tons of grilling accessories available to purchase that perform all these functions – again, I say get the tongs at least, and see what you have in your kitchen instead of buying a kabob set, fish basket or kettle rotisserie.

Plan your grilling.

Hot coals

Using charcoals offers a finite amount of time when the coals are at their hottest, and depending on how many you use, can last between 35-45 minutes. Have everything ready to go on a table next to the grill. It’s a pain to have to re-start some coals when you realize that your coals are dying and you still have those burgers to throw on.

That being said, I can’t believe it’s already the middle of August and my summer is coming to a bittersweet end. We still have a nearly full 20 lb bag of charcoals though…I’ll keep holding onto my grilling days as long as I can.

 

The Recipes.

Sriracha Glazed Chicken Skewers
courtesy of Bon Appetit

blog_post_photos_skewers

½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
⅓ cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
¼ cup Sriracha sauce
2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger
1 ½ lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1 ½” – 2” pieces
8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water at least 1 hour (so they don’t catch on fire when you grill them)

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.

Transfer marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half (about 1 cup, 7-10 minutes). Grill chicken, turning and basting often with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

 

Grilled Kale and Peach Salad

Ingredients

1 head of kale
2 peaches, halved
1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Massage 1-2 tbsp of oil into whole kale leaves and season both sides with salt and pepper. Brush oil on peaches and place them flesh side down onto grill, grilling for about 5-7 minutes until they have nice grill marks; remove from heat and let cool. Grill greens, turning often, until lightly charred in spots, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to cutting board and let cool slightly. Remove thick ribs and stems from green and discard (or eat if you like them). Tear kale leaves into large pieces. Slice peaches. Combine kale and peaches, and use a squeeze of lemon. Add goat cheese or another cheese if you’d like!

Charred Corn and Carrot Salad

charred_corn_carrot

Ingredients

5 ears of corn, husked
1 bunch of carrots, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, with seeds, thinly sliced into rings
juice of 2 limes
2 oz. fresh feta cheese
1 handful of cilantro, thinly chopped
4 tbsp of vegetable oil, divided
salt and pepper

Prepare grill for medium heat. Place chopped carrots in a small metal baking pan. Season with salt and pepper and toss with olive oil to coat. Place metal pan on straight on top of grill, tossing occasionally with tongs. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until carrots are fork tender and golden.

Meanwhile, cut kernels from 1 corn cob and toss with jalapeno and lime juice in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper and set aside. Brush remaining 4 ears of corn with 2 tbsp of oil and grill, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred in spots, 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Cut kernels from cobs and add to reserved corn mixture along with carrots, cheese, cilantro and remaining 2 tbsp of oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

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