Chef Warren Caterson dropped by the Winter Garden Branch Library on Wednesday, July 18, to share some grilling tips.
When it comes to cooking in the summertime, many home cooks enjoy breaking out the grill.
Celebrity Chef Warren Caterson, author of “Table for Two, A Cookbook for Couples,” dropped by the Winter Garden Branch Library on July 18 to share some of his grilling expertise with the community.
Here are some of the tips he shared that can help any home cook behind the grill.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
When it comes to tools, Caterson said he keeps things simple and frugal when he grills. He suggest that individuals should have spring-loaded tongs; a spray bottle filled with water in case of grill flare ups; a wide, metal spatula; meat thermometer; and a wire grill basket.
To prepare chicken, Caterson suggests seasoning it both underneath and on top of the skin.
“That way, I’m guaranteed that the seasoning is really going on the chicken,” Caterson said. “That’s especially important if you have friends who don’t like to eat the skin.”
After seasoning, grill the chicken using two “heat zones” to ensure the chicken cooks fully without drying out. Caterson said to start cooking the chicken on one side of the grill and finish cooking on the other.
“Generally, you want one side hot — whether it’s charcoal or gas — and one side cool,” Caterson said. “Sometimes, what I might do is get an aluminum tray — like a basting tray — put some water in it and put it on (the cooler) side.”
He added that the steam from water keeps food juicy. The tray of water also helps keeps the grill cleaner by catching any drippings that would fall onto the inside of the grill if the tray wasn’t there.
For burgers, Caterson uses ground chuck because it has a good balance of fat and lean meat. When forming patties, he suggested forming the ground meat into loose balls before flattening them into patties.
“We don’t want to pack them very tight,” Caterson said. “They’ll come out much juicier if you don’t pack them really tight.”
He also said to make sure that patties are at least four-and-one-half inches in diameter. Before placing burger on grill, make a small indentation in the middle of the burger. This prevents the center of the burger from bulging while it cooks, Caterson said.
Caterson said ribeye, New York strip, T-bones/porterhouse or filet mignon are ideal cuts for grilling. For special occasions, he suggests buying USDA Prime-grade steaks.
Before cooking, Caterson suggests salting the steak at least 40 minutes before putting on the grill.
“What the salt does in the first three to five minutes, it draws moisture out of the beef,” Caterson said. “Then over the next 30 to 35 minutes, reverse osmosis takes place and all that juice the salt pulled out gets reabsorbed back into the meat and brings the salt with it. So, now you’re salting inside of the meat as well as the outside. That way, when you go to cook it, your steak will come out much, much juicier.”
He added that one shouldn’t salt a steak at all or salt it right before cooking if they don’t have the 40 minutes to wait.
Steaks should be turned at least every 30 to 45 seconds. This way, steaks cook faster and more evenly. This also creates a sear across the whole steak.