Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Words of wisdom from grill master Mr. Castle

Grilling is a very fun and tasty way to prepare food. Throughout our travels we found plenty of coal BBQs and outdoor cooking with wood. In the United States, gas grilling is much more popular and we've been enjoying very flavorful and juicy meals, straight off the grill. But not all food from a grill is, juicy, tender or delicious. So what's the secret?

First things first, buy the right equipment. Look for a gas grill with a high BTU output. Look for about 10,000 BTUs per burner anything lower could jeopardize your grilling experience. Look for a grill with stainless steel components (burners, flavoring bars and grates). This will cost you more initially but will last for ever.

Grilling in Indonesia - coals and low BTUs

Taking care of your grill. 
The best way to clean the grill is with a steel wire brush immediately after you're done grilling your food. Dip the brush in water and brush the grill racks while they're hot. This is very similar to giving your gas grill a steam bath. It gets hot so it is best to wear heat resistant gloves if you want to keep your arm hairs on you. You'll probably keep the grill outside so make sure to get a snug cover for it, it will reduce rust and wear and tear.

For grilling meats, novices will do best by using a meat thermometer. So, here's a quick guide to grilling like a pro -- no more dry, rubbery, un-chewable meats!

Part I.

Turn on your grill and turn on your burners on high -- as high as they go (for larger grills you only need to turn on one side). If your grill has a built-in thermometer, check it and you know it is done once it's reached the highest temperature (between 400 and 500 degrees F depending on the grill). Grab your marinated chicken and put it directly on top of the flame. For chicken breasts with bone and skin, put the bone side down first about 3 minutes. Then repeat on the other side. For skinless, boneless breasts, put the convex side down first (this part of the breast has a thin film on it). For non-breast chicken pieces, put them on the grill any way, cooking on high for about 3 minutes on each side.

After cooking on high heat - you can either move the chicken away from the flame or you can leave it in the middle, turning off the middle burners and turning on the laterals. The point is you want the chicken off the direct flame and you want it cooking with an indirect flame.

When is it done? For smaller pieces like drumsticks and thighs, it should take about 15 minutes. It will be done once the meat is tender and coming off the bone (if there are bones). You can open it up a little bit with a knife and make sure there is no pink, the meat should be completely white. For the chicken breast, a grilling thermometer will be your best aide. Once you reach the poultry temperature, you're all set. Once you've grilled enough, you won't even need a thermometer and you can "just tell".

Important tip: once you turn down the flame, close the lid and keep it closed until it's done.

Part II.

Perfectly cooked salmon
Heat up grill on the highest setting. Use heavy duty foil and put a little bit of oil on it, placing the foil directly on the rack as the grill heats up so the foil is hot.

Place the salmon on the foil skin side down. If you don't want to use foil, that's fine but the skin might stick to the rack, giving you extra homework during clean-up time. Turn down the heat without moving/relocating the fish and close the cover. Keep an eye on it and when you see white juice oozing to the top of the fish, that means it's done.

Remember: don't flip the salmon, just cook it skin side down with the lid closed!

Part III.
Meat (medium done)

Heat up grill to the maximum temperature. Place steak on the grill, cook one side for about 3 minutes on high heat. After, turn down the temperature to medium high and flip the steak. Leave the steak on top of the flame and do not close the lid for cooking your steak. For medium done steaks, it will be done once juices (blood) start flowing to the top (a meat thermometer can also help you out here).

It's gotta be hot for steaks!

Tip: A very tasty and simple steak marinade is simply adding salt, pepper and a little bit of oil to the steaks just before grilling them. No more, no less.

Part IV.
White fish

Slow and low temp "grilling", Iraqi style
The best way for white fish is to use the French method for steaming. If you place the fish directly on the grill rack, it will probably get stuck and create a mess. Grab yourself two pieces of foil. Place a nice bed of vegetables on the foil so they go underneath the fish. Place the fish on top and then add another layer of vegetables. Use the other piece of foil to put it on top of your fish and veggies. Seal the foil well so that no air escapes and place your foil pouch on the grill.

This whole process should take about 10 minutes and should be cooked on medium high.

Part V.
Pork loin

You'll need an extra tool for this: a meat injector. Also, give yourself a whole day to prep this. Marinade the pork loin by injecting it with your favorite marinade, leave in the fridge over night. Heat up your grill to the ultimate maximum (just like for chicken and meat). Put the loin on the rack once your grill is hot and cook each side for no more than 3 minutes. Once the entire outside is cooked, turned the heat to the lowest setting possible, close the lid and cook for at least 4 or 5 hours (ideal cooking temperature is about 300 degrees F so that it's slightly pink and delicious juicy inside).

I have been very lucky to enjoy wonderfully grilled meals by Mr. Castle for decades now. Thank you dad for these wonderful grilling tips!


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