Bradley Smoker has come out with a new tool for the backyard chef and am I ever excited! Bradley’s new propane BBQ has me hanging up a tarp over my Vancouver patio, and joyful cooking away in the rain. Grilling in the rain, I’m grilling in the rain!
My Bradley BBQ has quality cast-iron grills and an upper grill shelf for keeping things warm or away from direct heat. It even has the added feature of an attached burner! As a result, I don’t have to hop in and out of the kitchen preparing rice or heating my sauces. This BBQ is really all I need to cook any meal. It’s perfect!
Now a few tips to make sure your grilling adventures are a success:
Everything Starts with Quality Products
This is key! No sauces or techniques in this world could ever turn an A-grade steak into an AAA-grade, so start with good quality products.
There’s no need to break the bank either! Go to your local butcher and ask the expert. They are always willing to share their knowledge and point you in the right direction. Often the butcher will be able to give you a bit of a deal, if you’re flexible with what you’re purchasing.
In my experience, freshly cut, local, free-range meat produces the best meals. Tenderness in meat comes from not only the animal’s diet, but also its stress levels when harvested. Therefore, purchasing meat from a nearby farm is your best bet to get fresh and tender meat. Remember fresh is best.
Be Prepared and Plan in Advance
Get everything you will need set-up before you get started. Arrange all your tools, sauces, seasonings, etc. in an accessible place beforehand. Think about what you need. Do you need oven-mitts, tongs, pasting brush, thermometer, etc…? How about a glaze? Or how about a plate or tray to rest your meat on when finished grilling? With practice this will come naturally, but until you have gotten into your true BBQ rhythm, take the time to plan your attack.
Use a Thermometer to Check your Meat Temperature
Bring out the meat thermometer! It is important to check your meat temperature to be certain you are cooking within a safe temperature range, and that the end result is the doneness you want. With time you will be able to “see” a medium rare steak without checking the temperature. However, every cut of meat is different and even seasoned chefs will use a thermometer.
Season with restraint
Don’t get me wrong, I love flavour and I love spice. Food that can make me sweat is my favourite and my spice “cupboard” takes up half my kitchen and spans the globe in flavour. However, it is important to remember that the flavour base comes from the meat you use. Freshly ground lamb has a unique and earthy, grassy flavour to it, use that. Garlic, oh how I love thee, has a pungent and warm flavour. Green onion has a fresh and bright flavour. When you combine these three ingredients together, you don’t need to douse in seasoning salt or cayenne or mustard. Season lightly and deliberately. Use spices and herbs that will compliment your protein base. After all, you so very carefully selected your meat for flavour and freshness, so do it justice!
Be Patient and Rest the Meat
Now that your excellent ribs or steak are ready, delicious smells are wafting about and you’re salivating. But be patient. Wait. (Please don’t hate me!) Wrap your protein in aluminum foil, or cover in some other way and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. This rest period will allow the outer edges of the cut of meat to cool slightly and reabsorb the water (also known as the flavour!) which has congregated in the centre while cooking. Once water is redistributed more evenly within the tissue, surface tension will trap the water inside the meat when cut, keeping the tasty juices inside your steak or ribs until you go for a bite. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
By Lena Clayton
Co-author of the Bradley Smoker Cookbook