Grilling the perfect summer dinner can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Managing varying heat, levels of doneness and cooking times can spell disaster for the unprepared chef. However, thanks to the grill experts at Stew Leonard's, cooking al fresco is easy with just a little know-how and the proper preparation.
In the summer, red meat is king. When preparing to grill the perfect steak, the process begins before ever turning on the flame. Since overly fatty cuts can cause flare-ups and give food a burnt flavor, it's important to ask your butcher to trim away excess fat from every cut. Steaks between one and two inches work best, as thinner pieces can become too dry, while thicker cuts are often undercooked. Once ready to cook, preheat the grill to the highest setting and sear the steaks for roughly six minutes per side. It's important not to flip the meat more than once and avoid cutting or prodding prematurely to ensure the natural juices remain intact. Once off the heat, allow the steaks to sit for five minutes before cutting.
When opting for traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, chefs should grill burgers over medium-high heat and create a shallow indent in the center of each patty to prevent the meat from puffing up. For hot dogs, grill on medium-low heat so they don’t burst, and roll frequently to heat evenly.
For bolder grill masters, fish's light, flaky texture can be delicious when prepared over open flame. To cook delicate foods like seafood, using indirect heat and cooking slowly is key. Grilling shrimp on skewers creates a great appetizer, while placing fillets such as salmon on a wooden plank or in tinfoil can help ensure fish stays in one piece.
The grill isn't just for meats; fire roasted vegetables have a flavor that searing and steaming just can't replicate. The ultimate summertime treat, grilled corn on the cob is crunchy, sweet and delicious. Coat each cob in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until lightly toasted. Asparagus, another summer staple, can be coated with the same mixture and grilled quickly over high heat.
Just because dinner is over doesn't mean the grilling is done. In fact, grilling summer fruits such as peaches and nectarines results in caramelized, syrupy treats. To enjoy, heat a well-cleaned grill to medium heat, halve the fruits and cook for three minutes per side. The fruits serve as the perfect ice cream or Greek yogurt topping, or can be enjoyed as is with a drizzle of honey or brown sugar.
For more information on how to master the grill this summer, click here.