Inspired by his recent interest in grilling, FoodTV, and Bobby Flay, I hired a personal chef to cater a surprise birthday BBQ and give him a private, at-home grilling lesson.
Armed with a small bag of goodies from Whole Foods, Chef Oliver Friendly of Eat and Smile foods (pictured) created a fabulous meal, made grilling appear easy and helped me host a Birthday evening to remember.
Meat was the star attraction at this BBQ and the menu did not disappoint. Hamburgers, strip steak and seared tuna were prepared rare, served alongside perfectly grilled red bliss potatoes, asparagus and zucchini.
We learned so much from Chef Oliver! Here a few tips about basic grilling technique that are worth noting:
- Don't forget the salt! Salt is a key player in seasoning meat and veggies. When salting before you grill, the salt can create a caramelized coating over the meat (but you have to use A LOT because it will run off into the coals with the juice and fat). When you salt after, you get more flavor because the salt gets carried into the meat as the juices redistribute.
- When grilling potatoes, boil them first in salted water. Once again, don't be afraid to use A LOT of salt (~1 Tbsp) to get maximum flavor. The salt gets into the potato as it cooks with the water. Boil until fork tender and then finish on the grill!
- When making homemade burgers, the trick is to properly mix the meat and seasonings with your hands! The reason why store bought burgers fall apart when they are flipped is because they are mechanically pressed. Gently roll into patties and place a thumb print in the center to avoid the "balloon" effect.
- The secret to perfect steak and burgers? Resist the urge to frequently flip! Sear on the hottest area of your grill until halfway cooked, and then flip over one time to finish.
- Let meat rest for half its cooking time to seal in juices and keep it from getting dry.
- Use canola oil -- not olive oil -- for seasoning and marinades. The oil is necessary to evenly distribute heat around the food, and olive oil can't handle the high temps of grilling.
I hope you find these tips helpful at your next backyard barbecue. Please visit Oliver's website to learn more about him and his catering and personal chef services!