I’m also the type of person to go wild at my grill when summer comes. I don’t have to cook, get to invite a bunch of friends and spend more time outside. To the best of my expertise and personal tastes, I generally prefer sausages and chicken skewers. I (mostly) manage to achieve a doneness somewhere between salmonella and carcinogenic blackened coal. However, I’m sure that I’m doing a lot of things wrong, which is why I never dare to eat expensive meat.
A visit to Claudine Nyaguy, Swiss barbecue master, was therefore long overdue. Aside from insights to her personality I learned more about barbecuing and finally noticed how much I really do wrong.
Grilling with tinfoil
I admit it, aluminium foil is a practical packaging material and much easier to handle than cling film. But it’s also energy-intensive in its production and doesn’t go well with all foods. Acid and salt dissolve aluminium particles from the foil, which can transfer to the food. Too much aluminium in your body can have a negative effect on health, so it’s better to use baking paper.
Forgetting indirect heat I almost always throw my barbecued food directly onto the hottest spot on the grill, mostly because I’m impatient. This is usually useful for short roasts, but not for much else. Indirect grilling is more gentle on the meat than high temperature grilling. Marinated meat should always be roasted indirectly, otherwise the marinade will burn. Cuts from older animals with a high collagen content need time to become tender as well. Even your bratwurst won’t be harmed by the indirect zone. Leave it there for about ten minutes so that it gets hot inside and then place it in the direct zone for the grill pattern with the lid open.
Fish onto the grate Fish is relatively rare on my grill, as the skin always gets stuck on the grate. That will all change this summer because Claudine gave me a simple tip. The slimy white protein layer on the skin makes the fish stick to the grill: «Wrap the belly of your fish around half of a lemon or orange and place it on the grill in indirect heat.» This solidifies the protein. After about ten minutes the skin is completely dry and you can put the fish directly onto the grill.
There’s a second big mistake made with fish: «Never cut the skin, otherwise the fish will lose its juiciness,» Claudine explains.
Meat from the fridge
Give your meat at least an hour to get to room temperature. A direct path from fridge to grill causes a temperature shock in your steak. The consequence: the meat becomes rather tough. The only time it makes sense to apply cold meat to a grill is when it has a large fat cap. That way, the tasty fat doesn’t render through the grate.
Making up differences in taste
There’s really no difference between cooking with electricity, gas or coal. Coal is, surprise surprise, completely charred and possesses no flavour, ethereal oils or vegetable materials whatsoever, which could deliver flavour. It's different with fresh wood. Over real fire, your grilled food will really taste different.
Using your second grate wrong
Many grills have a second grill above the normal grill surface, which is known by many as a warming surface. But think back to your last visit to the sauna. In the upper row, you’ll sweat twice as much as below. It's no different on the grill. With the lid closed, your meat will be properly heated again.
You won't become a professional overnight with this grilling advice, but your meat will be better. Still, the most important thing is having fun and spending time with your loved ones. By the way, you can spend more time with your favourite Galaxus author by following me, on top of getting news about the latest articles by e-mail. 😉
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