Mike Miles, the owner of Miles Lab, wrote out his best tips for grilling just about anything. A version of his writeup appeared in Family Man magazine's June 2011 issue. If you have any questions for Miles, leave them in the comments below the story.
As the days get longer and the temperature rises, grilling season is upon us. Don’t take it too seriously though – have fun and eat well. I'll will give some general ideas and then some recipes that you may take directly or customize to your liking.
Rules of thumb
1. Make sure your grill, grill area and tools are clean and in good working order.
2. Mise en place – French for "everything in place." Prep your ingredients and double check your recipe.
3. Season more, and cook less – use quality / fresh seasonings. Remove your steaks, burgers, pork chops, etc., early. They need to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting them. And, they will continue to cook during this time (carryover cooking).
4. Know your grill… i.e., where are the hot / cool spots. Quick cooking or searing on the hot spots will give a delicious caramelized texture to the exterior, and cooler spots cook the well done items so the outside will not char or burn.
5. Stay hydrated!!! Also, be prepared with extra water for flair-ups.
6. Don’t forget to start with great, fresh products. Check local markets for great seasonal items and fresh meats. If you are not sure what you are looking for, ask your butcher to help with choices.
7. Make sure you are comfortable with the tools. Don’t get caught in the trap of huge utensils. Make sure they are easily managed over the open flame.
8. We won’t get into the debate of gas or charcoal. Do not use lighter fluid unless you want your food to taste like it. If you use charcoal, get a chimney to light your coals.
9. You don’t have to have the absolute biggest grill with all the bells and whistles to cook well. Get a grill that you will use and meets your needs for space. Don’t overcompensate for any technical deficiency by having a giant grill.
10. By all means, grill your veggies and fruits too. Leave the core in your veggies to help with handling, and then trim the core out before serving. The grill is a great tool for caramelizing the great fresh fruit in the summer time.
Let’s talk about rubs and sauces…
All purpose rub could include garlic, sea salt, seasoned salt or black pepper. Customize to your taste with fresh herbs (ginger, rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, etc.) Try different international spices as well (we like 5-spice for chicken and fish, found in the Asian section of your market). Add brown sugar, sugar, cumin or mesquite/barbecue seasoning for your BBQ rub. Sauces, a whole article in itself, can be purchased or made. For most, a combination is a good way to go. Buy a good sauce and customize it buy adding hot sauce and honey or jam for sweetness. Beer or whiskey makes a great addition to sauces – the alcohol will cook out on the grill for family events. Thin your sauce so it will not burn so quickly.
You can use whatever kind you like – spare ribs, baby back, St. Louis or beef ribs. Prep them and make sure to trim any excessive fat. Depending on your taste, slow cook them ahead by wrapping them in foil and roasting them in your oven for two hours at a low temperature – 225-250 for fall off the bone. Or, cook directly on the grill for a steak-like texture. If you cook them ahead of time, even the day before, coat them with your sauce before grilling. Otherwise, wait until they are almost ready to begin basting with sauce so they do not burn.
Shrimp are great on the grill. Do yourself a favor by putting the shrimp on skewers – that way you won’t have to chase them around the grill individually. If you are using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 15 minutes before putting the shrimp on them. This will help keep the skewer from catching fire. Season or marinate your shrimp how you like them. Be careful not to add citrus for a long period of time, unless you want “ceviche." Sweet Italian dressing is great with grilled shrimp. Cajun spices and remoulade go great with them as well.
We love to sear Tuna. Make sure you buy a great steak or loin. Check to make sure you are getting sushi grade. You won’t have to overcook it then. Make sure the grill is screaming hot when you are ready to sear your tuna. Quickly sear each side and the center will still be rare or even raw. Slice it thinly for salad or appetizer presentation, or serve it whole for an entrée-style plate. Many sauces, salsas or fresh citrus make great pairings with tuna. We like to mix soy, fresh ginger and lots of wasabi to serve with ours.
It doesn’t matter if you are using burgers or prime steaks…season your meat well – it can be as simple as salt and pepper, or your favorite rub. Watch for "doneness" – if you want your meat rare, it should be spongy. Well-done will be firm. Also, you can watch juices for color. If the juice is red, it’s still more on the rare side. If it's clear, it’s on the done side. Don’t flip it too much. Let the grill do the work.
There are many helpful resources for planning: Don’t be afraid to check the Internet. Many sites will list the time for prep and real reviews and ratings by people who have already tried the recipes. Try things before you serve them to a big group or at an important function. This will help you create the item the way you want it.