Turn Up the Heat: 7 Fresh Ways to Grill This Summer
Now's the time to head outside, get the fire going, and bask in the beauty of summer.
By Katie Arnold-Ratliff
Tip 1: Skewer It
Spearing meat and vegetables on skewers is a great way to reduce cooking time—the small pieces sear quickly over the fire, which means they stay juicy and tender. These shrimp, chicken, and beef versions (courtesy of chefs Michael Symon, Michelle Bernstein, and Dale Talde) evoke the flavors of Greek, Cuban, and Korean cuisines.
Chef Michael Chiarello of Napa Valley's Bottega swears by grilled romaine: "The heat concentrates the flavor and adds a caramel note." Here, he shares his recipe for a fresh-from-the-fire salad topped with a vibrant dressing that gets its creaminess from avocado instead of mayo.
In his new cookbook, Charred and Scruffed, barbecue master Adam Perry Lang shares a quick trick for enhancing grilled meats: Hit them—literally—with a brush of fragrant rosemary. "It's like a magic wand of flavor," Lang says. "The bruised leaves release oils that give a unique accent to the meat." To make the brush, use twine to tie 10 to 15 five-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary to the handle of a wooden spoon. As the meat cooks, swat it lightly with the brush, or dip the brush in melted butter and use it as a basting wand.
Tip 4: Boost Your Burger
These six easy upgrades—including one highly prized secret sauce—take the hamburger to new heights.
The springy texture of the potato bun is favored by New York City's Shake Shack.
In three of the offerings at Bobby's Burger Palace (locations along the East Coast), Bobby Flay swaps lettuce for peppery watercress.
The subtly smoky sweetness of Blackberry Farm Smoked Onion Jam ($10; blackberryfarm.com) is the perfect complement to grilled meat.
San Francisco's Fifth Floor restaurant tops its burgers with Comté, a French cow's-milk cheese prized for its Gruyère-like tang and excellent meltability.
Among the toppings offered at chef Laurent Tourondel's BLT Burger (New York City, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong) are grilled red peppers, which offer an alternative to the typical tomato slice.
Tip 5: Paint Your Chicken
The tried-and-true bird is great on the grill—but the same old barbecue-sauce-covered breasts can get tired by Labor Day. Cree LeFavour, author of the chicken-centric cookbook Poulet, keeps her fowl flavorful by "painting" chicken with spice-laden sauces after it's cooked. "Sauces can burn on the grill if they have sugar in them," she says, "and so will some spices, like ginger. Painting them on afterward preserves the fresh, bright flavors." Below, LeFavour shares three of her favorite paints, each of which gets an extra punch from sprinkled herbs or scallions.
Brining meat—submerging it in salt water—is a foolproof way to keep it moist and flavorful. The only downside: the process takes hours (and hours and hours). At least that's what we thought until we spoke to Bobby Flay, who told us that "a pork loin or chop actually requires only a short brine because pork is so lean—a longer soak would break down its fibers and make the texture mushy." Flay's recipe for a Spanish-influenced pork loin further boosts the flavor of the meat by coating it in a dry rub of paprika, coriander, cumin, and other spices.
Elizabeth Falkner—owner of San Francisco's Citizen Cake and author of Cooking Off the Clock—adds depth to summer's bounty of stone fruit by blistering it briefly on the grill and balancing its sweetness with tart yogurt and crunchy pistachios. Peachy!