Grilling and summer seem to go together. We’re big fans of the grill, which is the best way there is to cook a steak. It adds new flavors and really enhances the meat.
So we asked our chefs to give us their best grilling tips. What are the mistakes commonly made by home cooks on the grill? What can you do to prepare a steak properly and get the most flavor? Several of our chefs shared their best tips with us.
Paul Miranda, Executive Chef of our Warrenville, IL, location, says to make sure you buy whatever you are grilling from a reputable purveyor. You can buy steaks from us, if you’d like, in our online store, here. Geoff Kelty, Executive Chef of the Columbus, Ohio, Eddie Merlot’s, recommends taking your time to make the right choice. If you prize tenderness, choose a filet mignon. If you prefer more marbling, choose a strip or ribeye steak.
Paul says to make sure your grill is clean and in great working order. Start the grilling season with a good cleaning and keep up with it throughout the season.
Grill temperature is crucial, our chefs say. Make sure you oil the grilling surface and that your grill is hot but not too hot so that your food will not stick. It also keeps your grill from instantly catching fire or flaring up, Paul tells us.
Both Matt and Paul say whatever you’re grilling (steaks, chicken, seafood, pork), pull it out of refrigeration at least an hour before grilling and let it come to room temperature. This helps reduce the “shock” when cold protein hits a hot grill and it also helps with even cooking for the protein. Matt recommends seasoning with kosher salt and pepper, and then letting it sit out, covered by a paper towel. “The temperature difference is not as great so it doesn’t stress out the meat and dry it out,” Matt says.
Matt uses a gas grill for everyday grilling of items such as burgers for his family. He likes to use a charcoal or wood fire for grilling steaks, and builds a hot fire initially, letting it cool some before use. Paul says before grilling find your “hot zones” and your “cold zones.” “Use the hot zones for marking you product with those beautiful steakhouse cross-hatch grill marks and use the cold zones for continued cooking and to cook items at an even temperature,” Paul says.
And of course, don’t forget the flavor. Matt prefers to keep his steaks pure. He loves the flavor of red meat, but likes to flavor pork and chicken, which doesn’t have as much natural flavor on its own. Bryan Hopping, Executive Chef of our Cincinnati location, says he uses a spice rub on meat to get it a good crust and flavor. “You can use any spices you like,” Bryan says. “Personally, I use bold, earthy spices like cumin, coriander, Garam Marsala, and mustard seeds. Use toasted whole spices and crush them with a mortar and pestle.”
You can find a lot more tips on grilling, recipes from our restaurant and general cooking advice in the Eddie Merlot’s cookbook, which was published in December. You can find it online here, or buy it in person at any of our locations.