"The key to entertaining is finding a few easy, popular, and accessible recipes in your repertoire, and use them often."
This week's grilling tips come from restaurateur, chef, writer, and world-class eater, Robert St. John. A true Southern cuisine and grilling aficionado, he's a Mississippi culinary hero. He was voted the state's top chef in 2006 and 2007 and one of his restaurants, The Purple Parrot Cafe was named the best Mississippi restaurant in 2007. He also serves on the National Chef’s Council of the Chefs for Humanity organization and the board of directors of the Mississippi Arts Commission and the Mississippi Museum of Art.
We asked Robert St. John to share some of his grilling tips from his new cookbook, New South Grilling.
What is New South Grilling?
"The use of the no-stick grilling marinades is what separates New South Grilling from all of the other forms. There are no-stick marinades in the book for beef, seafood, shrimp, vegetables, poultry. They're easy to make and they season food perfectly."
What is a no-stick marinade?
"The no-stick marinades are only 'marinades' in the loosest sense of the word. They serve two purposes: They keep proteins and vegetables from sticking to the grill, and they also season the meat, fish, or vegetable. The fact that they 'season' the product is why I used the word 'marinade'."
"When you brush fish with olive oil and then add salt or pepper (or down here, we use a lot of Creole seasoning), the seasoning doesn't stick to the protein. It runs off in the oil. The no-stick grilling marinades- which are actually simple emulsifications made in a food processor-adhere to the protein so it stays seasoned. Fish, or eggplant, or whatever you are grilling will never stick to the grill."
Don't Fear the Grill
"For my book New South Grilling, I created an easy recipe using a whole beef tenderloin, Tenderloin with Sizzling Butter. It's easy and it always impresses. I have found that the key to entertaining is finding a few easy, popular, and accessible recipes in your repertoire, and use them often."
"No one has to reinvent the wheel every time out. If your guests liked it last time, pull it out again, odds are that they haven't eaten it since the last time they were over for a visit."
"The Whole Roasted Citrus Chicken is one of my favorite recipes in the book. Prepare it, and you'll never buy one of those grocery store chickens under the plastic dome— ever again."
Grilling in Urban and Indoor Spaces
"Those grilling griddles with the raised ridges are just a step above a flat griddle. When I am forced inside by weather, I sear steaks or chicken in a skillet and then finish them in the oven. The benefit from doing that is that I always have some wonderful pan drippings left in the skillet. I'll add garlic, shallots, and mushrooms, reduce some wine and add a little veal stock that I've stolen from one of my restaurants. Add just a few butter chips at the end, and everyone's happy."
"What you miss by doing this is the smoke (the crispy char can still be accomplished). I make up for lack of smoke by getting creative with my seasonings."
"Of course, those little hibachi grills work well on a balcony, just never use charcoal briquettes or those match-light products, and never, never, ever use lighter fluid. Your food will taste like chemistry experiment gone awry. Always use whole lump charcoal and a chimney for lighting which can do the trick using two pages of crumpled newspaper."
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