You're going to someone's cookout party this Labor Day weekend and the host asks you to bring sides. How do you fulfill the request and maintain your standing as a thoughtful guest? Here are some guidelines, plus recipe and servingware suggestions.
'cookouts' on Serious Eats
Congratulations, after four solid days of basic grilling advice, you're pretty much an expert. It's time to graduate to the next level—the introduction of smoke. I contend that smoke produced from charcoal will lend a very slight smokiness to food (the old, charcoal tastes better than gas debate), but you need to step up your game if you want real flavor out of your grilling medium.
It's a disheartening sight, one moment you're grilling perfectly and the next the food is totally consumed in an uncontrolled blaze. Knowing what causes and how to deal with these flare-ups will ensure that precious food will never go up in flames.
To become a true "Master of the Flames," you'll need to know how to own a fire. Gauging and controlling the temperature is crucial in delivering the just right heat to your food—luckily, one of the easiest way to determine this is always at hand (literally). Just hover your hand above the cooking grate and count the seconds it takes until you're positive your skin will melt off. With the findings, you can determine if the heat is at high, medium, or low, and which foods should be cooked at each.
One of the great glories of the grill is its versatility to deliver different types of heat, with coal arrangement being a main player in this arena. A little know-how is all that's needed to create the right type of heat to successfully grill just about anything.
To love grilling is to love your grill. No matter what type of grill you own, with some tender care in the way of basic maintenance, you'll be rewarded with years of grilling bliss. Here are some tips on cleaning the grill grate (and what happens when you don't), whether or not to oil the grate, and what to do with all those charcoal remains.
I can't be the only one in America that just happened to have both ground beef and hot dogs left over from the July Fourth weekend. The staples of the national cookout could have made for a couple of fine...
Sometimes, you just have to. Between the breakage issues and the cleanup issues, we can all be forgiven for occasionally serving Chardonnay in plastic tumblers. But the wine will suffer for it.
Without a spacious patio or backyard, what kind of grill do you use?
I'm a big fan of Brendan Koerner's "The Goods" column in the New York Times Sunday business section. Yesterday he wrote about a newfangled outdoor cooker, the Orion. Here's how he described it: "a cylindrical, stainless steel gadget that resembles something out of the Apollo space program. Powered by charcoal, the Orion envelops meats in waves of hot air, also known as convection currents." According to its inventor, Christian Fitzgerald, "This not only eliminates the need for turning but also preserves juiciness and reduces cooking times. He estimates, for example, that the Orion can cook a 20-pound turkey in two and a half hours, and six racks of baby back ribs in 75 minutes." Here's my question: Does the Orion...
How could I resist this invitation (right), which gave no hint of what was to come yesterday around lunchtime? Mario Batali serving roast pig, which, from a previous appearance at his house in northern Michigan, I knew I would enjoy immensely. Dave Pasternack from New York City's Esca roasting and grilling octopus, which I knew from co-writing his about-to-come-out cookbook, was just about the most delicious tentacled morsel of food you could eat. And the hospitality of Batali partner Joe Bastianich, who apparently lives large on a few acres of prime real estate in suburban Connecticut. The first mistake I made was emailing Mario to see if he was really leaving Del Posto at 10 in the morning to...
There were four huge bags of Sullivan Street Bakery ciabatta rolls. They were supposed to have been split at the restaurant before they began their journey to Joe Bastianich's cookout. They were not, and someone had to split those thousand rolls before the guests arrived in an hour. "Dude," Mario said, "you ready to split the rolls?" I believe this was the definition of a rhetorical question.