z8By Elke Probkevitz

Grilling is the simplest, most basic cooking method there is. Before there was any fancy equipment or the latest stainless-steel range, cooking was always just the food and the fire. Funny thing is, most people are more intimidated when it comes to grilling correctly. If you prepare yourself with some basic knowledge, grilling will be easy-breezy. Use these basic tools to get you started and you’ll be grilling to perfection in no time.

How you’ll be cooking. Make sure to have your grill set up for direct and indirect cooking. Some foods need to be seared or cooked quickly directly over flames; other food needs to cook slower, indirectly to the side of the heat source, so they can cook all the way through. Make sure you have areas for both types of cooking on your grill.

Wait for it. Just as an oven needs preheating, a grill needs to preheat before cooking. A charcoal grill in particular needs time to heat up properly before food is put on the grill. Make sure you give yourself enough time before grilling to let the charcoal burn and reach a light gray color with an ash coating so it can cook your food well.

Use the right tools. The BBQ toolkit comes with tongs and a long fork, but the fork is not really the best tool for grilling. Stabbing your meats with the fork will cause precious juices to be released, causing a loss of moisture and flavor. Alternatively, use the tongs and a spatula to move and flip meats to keep your food from losing its juiciness.

Keep it covered. When grilling foods with the lid on, don’t open the grill too often to check on the food. Doing so causes the heat to escape and the food will take longer to cook. Be patient and let it do its thing. Keeping the lid on will reduce cooking time, help control flare-ups, and achieve better results.

Stop flipping. This is a big grilling no-no! Grillers get antsy, feeling like they need to keep busy and move food around, flipping it while grilling. Unless a recipe specifically calls for flipping, foods should not be touched or flipped more than once. Letting your food get good grill marks is what grilling is all about, so leave it alone and let it sear.

Never press! Another cardinal sin of grilling is to press down on your meats. What are you doing? Never press down on your meats! This only causes all the juices to seep out, resulting in dried-out, overcooked food. If you remember only one thing, remember not to press down on your grilled foods!

Keep it slick. Spraying your foods with a little non-stick cooking spray or brushing with a light coat of oil will keep the food from sticking to the grates. It will be easier to flip and remove the food and it will also help your food brown evenly. v

Spice-Rubbed Strip Steaks With Caramelized Onions

Serves 4

Ingredients for spice rub:

2 Tbsp. chile powder

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsp. dry oregano

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

Ingredients for onions:

2 Tbsp. butter substitute

1 Tbsp. canola oil

3 large Spanish onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

1 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for steaks:

4 16-oz. NY strip steaks

kosher salt

2 Tbsp. canola oil


Preheat grill. Combine spices for rub in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat butter substitute and oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook slowly until golden brown and caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Season steaks on both sides with kosher salt. Rub one side of steak with spice rub and drizzle with oil. Place steaks on grill directly over heat and cook until golden brown, 5—6 minutes. Coat other side with oil, turn steaks over, and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 6—7 minutes. Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes for slicing. Serve steaks with caramelized onions.

Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.

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