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Secrets of successful grilling

Charlie Owen
HL BBQ Tips DT 5-24-08
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Grilling out, cooking out, barbecuing, it doesn’t matter what you call it. What does matter is what you cook and how you cook it. Sure, there are those locals who grill out all year long, through rain, sleet or snow, but to most everyone, summer time means time to grill. To help you maximize your time in front of the flame we talked to some local grill masters for tips and recipes that will add flavor to chicken, steak, fish or ribs. No matter what your choice of meat, there is a proper way to cook it to insure it ends up juicy and tender rather than a dried husk.

“You want to deal with a clean grill and a hot grill,” said Jim Errant, owner of Gore Range Brewery in Edwards.

He recommends working the grill at a temperature between 400 and 500 degrees to seal in the meat’s juices, keeping it tender and moist.

Don’t get distracted or you’ll likely end up overcooking your food.

“When you’re working the grill you should really stand by it and attend it the whole time,” Errant said.

No playing catch with the kids or watching TV. When you’re grilling, you’re grilling. Paying attention is much more important when cooking burgers and chicken because they should be constantly turned to avoid burning the meat, Errant said.

Ribs, however, are a special case according to both Errant and Mark Tamberino, owner of Kirby Cosmo’s in Minturn.

Tamberino suggests smoking ribs all day long, but knows that not everybody has the time, equipment or ability to perform such an arduous task.

Boil the ribs at a low temperature for 35 to 40 minutes. This makes the meat more tender and keeps it from drying out when thrown on the grill. But don’t paint the ribs with barbecue sauce until the meat is all the way cooked, otherwise the sugars from the sauce will burn. The same applies to chicken or anything else ” don’t coat raw meat with sauce and then cook it. Sauces are meant to be applied after the meat is cooked or to be used to dip the meat in.

Tamberino suggests cooking ribs low and slow ” right around 180 degrees for a longer period of time. It may be his job to cook ribs, but he said everyone has the potential to do great things on a grill.

“As long as you got dedicated time I think anybody could be a good barbecuer,” Tamberino said.

Much of grilling is about personal taste. There are hundreds of sauces, rubs, marinades, brines and spices to coat whatever you’re cooking, but what is the purpose of each?

A rub is just a dry mixture of spices and herbs that can be rubbed onto food for seasoning and to lock in moisture. Marinades are acidic (lemon juice, vinegar, wine) liquids meant to tenderize meet such as steak, ribs and pork. Brines are salty liquids used to flavor and moisten poultry. Meat should soak in either marinades or brines for at least a couple of hours. Barbecue sauces can be made from scratch or bought at the store depending on how much time you want to spend preparing the meal. Each of these elements adds a unique and different flavor and quality to whatever you’re throwing on the grill.

For some locals, grilling is a passion.

“A lot of time we make our entire meal on the grill,” said Minturn resident Jerry Bumgarner.

He was full of ideas that he learned through trial and error. When cooking fish he said that using a nonstick spray or olive oil on the grill surface will keep the delicate meat from tearing apart when removed.

When it comes to potatoes, he said to boil them whole first and then cut and season to taste before throwing them on the grill.

Bumgarner also suggested using a grill wok for cooking large amounts of vegetables without burning them or drying them out.

Just as there are many ways to grill your food, there are many reasons why people do it, and Bumgarner is full of his own.

“I enjoy cooking, and the food is good, it’s healthy and then you’re not messing the kitchen up,” Bumgarner said. “It’s very relaxing to me.”

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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