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Fire It Up: Delicious Tips for Grilling

By Jordan Durham
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The hotter days mean hotter flames for grilling up your favorite foods this summer. Whether you are cooking up a family meal or creating a holiday feast, your skill on the grill matters. From finding the perfect grill for you to choosing sauces or spices, the options seem endless due to the variety of meals that can be made over the fire. If the art hasn’t been taught or handed down to you, don’t worry! All you need is to understand the basics and then the grilling world opens itself up, expanding your know-how. But don’t sweat, you’re not by the fire yet; here is a helpful guide, including tips and a few favorite meals by local professionals, for novices as well as ideas for the most seasoned grillers. There’s a lot to cover, and we won’t be able to go over it all, but let’s turn up the temperature, grab some tongs and get sizzlin’!

Finding Your Fire

Wood vs. Charcoal vs. Propane

On the outset, deciding which grill to purchase may seem daunting. However, much of this decision relies on what you want from your time on the grill. If you’re seeking a deep smoky flavor for your burgers, ribs, steaks or any meat, a wood-fire or charcoal grill is the choice you want to make. Wood-fire grills generally will give you more flavor, according to Chef Brook Harlan with Columbia Area Career Center. With wood-fire grills, you choose which type of wood you want to burn, so the flavors of your meat can range from a traditional hickory blend to cherry rum.

Charcoal grills will give you a traditional smoky flavor and will cook evenly, though you won’t get flavor options like a wood-burning grill would give. You can throw in wood pellets with your coals to bring out hints of flavor along with the smoky, savory taste, however. This grill is also the cheapest option of the three, but upkeep, coals and more, quickly can bring a higher price tag. Additionally, buying a chimney starter is very helpful if you go this grill route, as it is the quickest way to heat your coals.

The quick and easy option is a propane grill. These are less for enthusiasts, and more for those who want a fast and even cook. Though you can get a gas grill that doesn’t break the bank, the price tag can go up quickly and significantly based on the company, design, color, burners and more. You control the flames, so you don’t have to worry if that day’s wind is going to cooperate or if you’ll end up with half- cooked food.

Extra features to consider when thinking about your purchase include whether you want a place on the grill to hold your accessories, how long you anticipate wanting to be in front of it, how many burners you want and how much prep and clean-up time you are willing to put into it. Asking yourself as many questions as possible before buying one can be the difference between a bountiful barbecue or a burnt disaster.

Meats on the Grates

STEAKS
Pick your favorite cut! This is important not only for the type of steak you want to cook but also for determining how long you need to cook it and at what temperature. By piercing tiny holes in the steak, your marinade or seasoning can soak into the meat for a savorier experience. Also, the more you cut the fat back, the more evenly your steak will cook. Searing also is a major factor in keeping your steak juicy, so be sure to create a deep brown crust on the outside. Then, let it rest! The thicker the cut of steak, the longer you should let it rest.

BURGERS
Pre-packaged hamburgers from the grocery store or locally-raised, quality beef cuts and patties are both great options depending on preference. You can prep the meat with spices or sauces, however, salt, pepper, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce are our go-to choices. If you get beef that needs to be shaped, you can form it into patties or balls. Poke a slight in- dent in the middle of the ball to prevent it from becoming too round and swollen.

LOCAL FAVORITE
Tim Eisenhauer, the co-founder and chef at Irene’s located in the Arcade District, says his favorite easy recipe is carne asada. He prepares and cooks it in a few easy steps. “Season beef flank or skirt simply with salt. Grill over a hot fire to medium rare. While the meat is resting, grill good-quality tortillas until pliable. Slice the steak thin across the grain and serve with lime, onion and your favorite salsa.”

A DONE DEAL
Ben Parks, owner and chef of Barred Owl Butcher & Table, stresses two final keys to successfully serving up great grilled meats. “Two of the most important things for cooking any meat are to use a good instant-read thermometer and to allow your meat to rest for 10 minutes. Every cut is slightly different so unless you’re an expert the only way to know how done it is, is by temperature. Take into account carryover cooking. Resting also lets the juices reabsorb and redistribute so you don’t lose a bunch when you cut into it.”

Dustin Norem, owner and chef of CC’s City Broiler, strongly seconds this advice. “Most people don’t think about the fact that a protein will continue to cook after it’s off the grill and that’s exactly where the mistake is made.”

Vegetables

Corn on the cob is a nostalgic must-have vegetable when grilling for the holidays. Here are some suggestions on preparation.

  1. Leave the husk on and simply place it on the grill with the grill cover. Turn the cob periodically every few minutes to char it to your liking. After a few turns and approximately 15-20 minutes, you should have a well-cooked cob!
  2. Boil a pot of water and place the corn, husk and silks too, in for about 10 minutes. Remove and place on the grill. Make sure you turn it enough and char the husk. Once you have the char-level you want, then you’ll come away with corn that is steamed and juicy.
  3. An easy and traditional way for many grillers is to remove the husk and silks, lather the corn in butter, salt and pepper to taste, cover and turn a few times for approximately 15-20 minutes.
  4. If you’re looking to prepare the corn the night a grilling basket comes in handy. Chopping any type before, find a medium or large size pot, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. Place in your corn with husks and let boil for seven minutes. During this time, fill a pot with ice and water. After the seven minutes, immediately place your corn in to start cool- ing down, then place them in foil and put them in the freezer until you’re ready to grill. You want the corn to begin cooling and freezing immediately, or else the cob will stay hot, and the corn will turn out mushy in the end.
  5. A medley of vegetables is easy enough and where of vegetable, coating it in olive or sunflower oil, and sprinkling salt and pepper and then tossing them in the basket means you will have an excellent side! Keep in mind, the vegetable (or vegetables) that you pick will determine the length of time you will need to cook it. A good rule of thumb is vegetables that are more water based — zucchini, squash, eggplant, peppers, etc. — will need less time to cook. Heartier vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and potatoes, generally will need more time.

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A Sweet Treat

If you have yet to try fruit on the grill, you’re missing out. Try starting with peaches.

Cut the peach into slices about one-third to half an inch thick. Season them with maple syrup and brown sugar to create a crispy outer layer. Grill for five minutes, flipping sides halfway through. Do not place on direct flame, rather place it on edges of the grates in indirect heat. After the five minutes, you’ll have a sweet, crispy treat with a hint of smokiness, adding more depth to its flavor. The following recommendations

Spice Up Your Life

The following recommendations could be considered fighting words, so we’ve kept our recommendations local.

SPICEWINE IRONWORKS in Columbia not only makes sauces and rubs, but marinades as well, like their Butcher’s Pork Injection, Butcher’s Prim Injection and Butcher’s Bird Booster Honey.

STICKY PIG BBQ out of Centralia, Missouri and can be found in the Moser’s and Hy-Vee locations in Columbia. Sticky Pig has many types of sauces and dry rubs, including their bestselling Original BBQ Sauce.

SHOW-ME BAR-B-Q SAUCE out of Rocheport, Missouri is another local favorite business, selling barbecue sauces such as Show-Me Habanero and Show-Me Some Heat, and rubs such as Show-Me Caribbean and Show-Me All Purpose.

BLUES HOG located in Washington, Missouri has its standard original and champions blend barbecue sauces, however, it explores all parts of your tastebuds with flavors like raspberry chipotle, honey mustard and smokey mountain.

GATES BAR-B-Q, an established restaurant in Kansas City, keeps things on the less-sweet side with its sauces, with options like its original classic and extra hot barbecue sauces. They also have four types of dry rubs, original, sweet & mild, hot & spicy and salad seasoning.

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