Memorial Day Weekend, straight ahead! Happy Foodie Friday with a long weekend attached, friends!
Are you ready for the weekend? Planning any fun BBQs and picnics?
I have to admit: while I love BBQs, picnics, and, really, any excuse to gather together good friends & family with good food & beverages, the one thing I am most definitely NOT is a Grill Master.
Nope. Not my thing.
So I’ve decided to leave it to the true grilling experts this week to share their top grilling tips for the summer. Some of Portland’s finest, most innovative chefs have taken the time to share the grilling tips they use in their own restaurants with us here on Urban Bliss Life. They also share some of the favorite condiments and side dishes that make their restaurant grilled items stand out — these are all awesome ideas that you and I can easily incorporate into our home BBQs!
I’d say get ready to take notes, but lucky you: you just need to bookmark this page and check it out the next time you’re ready to hit the grill! ;)
GRILLING TIP #1: TEMPER YOUR MEAT
Olympic Provisions’ Salumist and Owner Eli Cairo’s best grilling tip: never grill meat straight from refrigeration–always temper your meat.
When grilling sausages, he always heats them up in salted water or beer before throwing them on the flame. For a grilled dish drink, Cairo says he really digs a refreshing Americanos made with antica formula–the bitterness of the vermouth really likes the char and the bubbles and citrus cut through the fat of the meat.
[photos from Olympic Provisions]
At Olympic Provisions, the most popular grilled item is the Frankfurter, handmade with a natural lamb casing and fresh ground spices.
CONDIMENT/TOPPING TIP: Cairo likes to make something akin to an onion relish with fresh diced red onion, good olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley and salt and pepper to top these Frankfurters and almost anything else off the grill.
GRILLING TIP #2: HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT GRILL MARKS
The Country Cat Executive Chef and Owner Adam Sappington’s suggestion for perfect grill marks: a hot clean grill and the dials set to 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock.
[photo from The Bent Brick on Instagram]
The Bent Brick Executive Chef and Owner Scott Dolich’s tips for perfect grill marks are simple: keep the grill very clean, very hot and well-oiled, and be patient – once you put your items on the grill, wait until the meat or vegetable releases itself from the grill until you turn it.
CONDIMENT/TOPPING TIP: The Bent Brick’s favorite way to accentuate any grilled item is with variations of the same item; for example, their charred Brussels sprouts are tossed in vinaigrette that is based on sauerkraut liquid created with Brussels sprout leaves. Or, for grilled meats, they make vinaigrette based on the concentrated reduction of the bones and scraps (demi glace), with fresh herbs and spices and liberally brush over the grilled meats, adding a complex umami element with little extra effort.
GRILLING TIP #3: GO BEYOND THE BASIC BURGER
Want to wow your friends this summer? Go beyond classic beef burgers and hot dogs. At Besaw’s, the most popular grilled item is their lean and delicious elk burger.
CONDIMENT/TOPPING TIP: Besaw’s Executive Chef Michael Uhnak doesn’t just serve their in-demand elk burgers with regular ol’ ketchup, either: he makes a Bloody Mary Ketchup, marrying Besaw’s well-known Bloody Mary mix with their house made ketchup. His favorite side dish for grilled meats is classic grilled vegetable salad tossed in a chevre vinaigrette.
GRILLING TIP #4: GRILL YOUR VEGGIES
Grilled vegetables are one of my favorite foodie things about summer time. I tend to go the traditional route with grilling squash, zucchini, peppers, but these chefs remind us that there’s more to grill:
Levant Executive Chef and Owner Scott Snyder’s top veggies to grill are eggplants and carrots (which are almost always featured somewhere on Levant’s ever-changing menu).
Sappington’s favorite non-meat items to grill at The Country Cat are potatoes and apples.
Remedy Wine Bar‘s Executive Chef Ingrid Chen’s top non-meat items to grill are any and all alliums. Spring onions and scallions are her favorite alliums to grill, but she says that, really, all grilled onions are pretty awesome. She also happens to love the grill-friendliness of wines like zinfandel (I agree, Chef Chen!).
CONDIMENT/TOPPING TIP: Chen’s first choice condiment for grilled foods is romesco sauce, because it has the acidity and heat as well as the sweetness needed to balance out the char from a grilled meat or vegetable.
GRILLING TIP #5: DRESS IT UP
GRILLING TIP #6: SOMETIMES IT’S ALL IN THE RUB
We’ve talked about general grilling tips, condiments, toppings, and some side dish ideas. But sometimes, it’s really the rub you use on your grilled goodies that make your BBQ dishes a hit.
At The Country Cat, it’s all about the “Sappy Spice” rub: fennel seed, coriander, garlic granule and herbs de provence, paprika.
Snyder’s favorite rub for meats going on the grill at Levant is either his house Baharat spice blend or a combo of cardamon, black pepper and fresh oregano. Lamb is definitely the most popular dish at his French-Arabic restaurant Levant.
CONDIMENT/TOPPING TIP: Snyder says a traditional toum or z’houg make the best condiments for dishes like grilled lamb.
Hope you found some inspiration from these awesome local Portland chefs to fire up the grill and break out some of your own creativity this Memorial Day Weekend. Many thanks to all of the fabulous chefs who shared their tips with us here today. Although, some of these make me want to just put my own grill aside and head on over to their restaurants. . . sometimes the best grilling tip I can offer is to have someone else do the grilling for you. Am I right? ;)
If you do BBQ this weekend, I’d love to know: what are you making/did you make, and did you follow any of these tips?