Q: Care to share a few grate tips?
A: You want to preheat the grate, get it good and hot. Once it’s hot and oiled, and once you put the food in place on the grate, you want to leave it in that place for a good minute or more. While the food is cooking — while it’s browning — it will release from the grate if you leave it in place and don’t fiddle with it. And it’s always a good idea to clean the grate immediately after grilling, using the brush that’s recommended for the grill. It’s easy to do when the grill is hot, because by the time it turns cold, all that stuff that’s sticking to the grate can turn to concrete.
Q: Why do you say “No” to the grill cover?
A: The problem with covers is that you’re basically baking, you’re not grilling. Grilling is a very specific cooking technique, where food is exposed to fire and its surfaces get a good crisp. We think the flavor is better when the grill is uncovered, although covers have their uses, whether you’re using a rotisserie, or if it’s windy or raining, or you’re trying to cook something large and you’re using indirect heat.
Way back when grilling was becoming popular in this country, meats were fattier, and the marinade recipes in those old cookbooks were loaded with oils. It wasn’t any big surprise that people were getting massive flare-ups. George Stephen, the father of the Weber grill, observed this, and he figured that if you put a cover on it, then people wouldn’t burn their eyebrows. People grill all over the world, of course, and no one tries to use a cover other than Americans.
Q: What made you such ardent grilled pizza fans?
A: Unless you invest in your own home pizza oven, this is the closest thing you can get to a real wood-fired pizza oven taste. The technique sounds awkward, but it’s not hard to do, and with practice it becomes really easy. It freaks people out that you put the dough on the cooking grate, but it works, and you get great results, fast.
Q: What’s the route to first-rate grilled burgers?
A: Well, there’s the burger itself. You need to start with good-quality, freshly ground beef. Ideally, it should be at least 15 percent fat content, maybe even 20 percent. It’s not like you’re going to eat all that fat — it’s going to drip out of the burger — but it makes it especially juicy.
Get a better bun than your average supermarket bun. Or try a different meat. Lamb makes for a wonderful burger.
Q: What about grilled steaks?
A: Again, you want to start with a good-quality steak. It should be at least choice, and if you can find prime and you can afford it, that’s a great splurge, and a good way to begin.
You don’t want to grill super-cold meat, you should let it sit out for about 30 minutes before it goes on the grill.
You’ll want to start it over a really hot fire. That will help you get that seared surface, that nice, almost caramelized crunch, which will contrast to the juicy meat inside. Then you’ll want to finish it over medium heat.