On the Grill: How to Do It Right.
Practical tips and great recipes.
I’m so glad to be back at the grill this week. It’s easy, tasty, and the smoky smell just makes me feel summertime happy. I teach a lot of grilling classes. Here’s a common question I’m asked.
Marinade or Dry Rub? Here’s the meat of it…
Marinades are liquids that are made of herbs, spices, and an acid – usually a citrus, vinegar, or alcohol. They not only add flavor to your meat, but also tenderize it. The acids breaks down connective tissues and make meat more tender. If you are cooking a protein that is already tender (fish, chicken breasts, or individual steaks), then you should marinate briefly for 2 hours or less. Tougher cuts of meat (briskets, roasts, London broil) should be marinated in the fridge anywhere from 4 hours to overnight. Don’t leave your meat marinating for longer than overnight. Room temperature meat can cause food poisoning, so do not leave your meat marinating at room temperature for longer than 40 minutes. Large sealable plastic bags or non-reactive dishes such as a glass or ceramic with plastic wrap over the top are perfect for marinating.
Use leftover marinade to baste the meat or chicken. DO NOT use it as a sauce; it is not food safe to eat uncooked. It can be used if you boil it for 3-5 minutes.
Rubs are mixes of spices and seasoning that add flavor but don’t tenderize. Dry rubs are, in fact, dry and powdery. Paste rubs are mixed with enough of a wet ingredient, like oil, soy sauce, or mustard, to form a paste. Both kinds of rubs should be patted onto the meat to form a coating or crust. Dry rubs are wonderful on individual steaks, and dark meat boneless chicken. I also use them on white meat chicken pieces.
Rubs can be applied just before cooking, but for more impact you can put a rub on a few hours before you plan to cook and store the meat in the fridge.
Here are a few great marinade and dry rub recipes below to enjoy.
My Go-To Grilling Marinade
I like to use this on tender, somewhat thin cuts of meat, like a Del Monico steak, or a hanger steak. Ask your butcher for a tender cut if you don’t see a Del Monico, minute steak, hanger steak or a skirt steak (just rinse this well and even soak in water to get out some of the saltiness before adding the marinade) and he can recommend something that works well on the grill. This marinade is terrific and comes together in minutes.
- 3 pounds Del Monico steak, hanger steak, minute steak split roast
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 – 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 – 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
In a small bowl, mix marinade ingredients. Pour over meat in a non-reactive dish or in a zip-lock bag. Marinate for a minimum of 3 hours or up to overnight.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to medium. Place the steaks on the grill. Close the grill. Do not disturb for 5 – 6 minutes. Turn steaks over and grill until desired doneness, about 5 – 6 minutes more for rare (or 135°F internal temperature), 7 – 10 minutes for medium (145°F to 155°F degrees).
Fresh Herb Marinade, Summertime Favorite
Great on chicken or roasts
Makes about 2 cups marinade
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, chopped (try basil, parsley, mint, tarragon, marjoram, cilantro or any herb of choice)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Whisk ingredients in a small bowl. In a zip-lock plastic bag, coat chicken or steaks with marinade and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Remove chicken or steak from marinade before grilling.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to medium (and for chicken, turn down to very low). Place the steaks on the grill. Close the grill. Do not disturb for 5 – 6 minutes. Turn steaks over and grill until desired doneness, about 5 – 6 minutes more for rare (or 135°F internal temperature), 7 – 10 minutes for medium (145°F to 155°F degrees).
Instructions above for 1 - 2 lb. pieces of steak, like Delmonico, skirt, hanger, and minute steak roasts.
For individual steaks: Grill on medium-low burners for approximately 4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. For rare, cook until internal temperature reaches 135°F, 140-145°F for medium, and why buy meat to cook it well-done.
Boneless, skin-less: grill on very low heat, about 3-5 minutes per side
Chicken on the bone: grill on very low heat, about 5-7 minutes per side, approximately 165°F
Makes 3 cups marinade
The pineapple and soy sauce tenderize tough cuts of meat. I use this on London broil, minute steak split roasts, brick roast, shell roast and brisket.
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until combined. Marinate meats or chickens for 2 hours, then grill or bake roasts covered.
Dried Herb Rub
Makes about ½ cup
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano, rubbed
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley, rubbed
- 2 tablespoons dried basil, rubbed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until combined.
The dried herb rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Smoky Spiced Sugar Rub
Makes about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until well combined.
The smoky spiced sugar rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Red Wine BBQ Chicken
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ½ sriracha sauce, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 mixed chicken drumsticks and thighs or chicken pieces
In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the ketchup, wine, sugar, sriracha sauce and mustard. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then simmer over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Let the grill reach a temperature of about 450°F (use your thermostat on the grill to check the temperature). Turn down the burners to very low, and grill for about 5 minutes per side or until an internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Alternatively, preheat the oven to 425°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and put a baking rack on it. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and put on the rack. Roast for 15 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned. Brush the chicken with some of the sauce and roast for 40 minutes longer, turning and basting every 10 minutes, until nicely glazed and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 165°F. Transfer to a platter and serve.
Garlicky Lemon-Thyme-Marinated Lamb Chops
Original recipe courtesy of Food and Wine magazine. I’ve altered it a bit but it’s wonderfully flavorful.
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice; more wedges for serving
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 8 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 ½ tablespoons dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 lamb rib chops, trimmed
In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Add the garlic, thyme leaves, pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and stir to combine.
Put the chicken in a non-reactive container or zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them, turning to coat on all sides. Marinate the lamb chops for at least 1 hour at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
When ready to grill, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat (400°F to 475°F).
Remove the lamb chops from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Grill the chops, turning once, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Season with more salt to taste, and garnish with lemon wedges and thyme sprigs.