Warm weather brings grilling season, and what better time to grill a feast than Father’s Day? But before you crank up the heat and throw some meat on the fire, you’ll want to check out these do’s and don’ts from Chef John Stage, the man behind Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, with nine locations, including Brooklyn and Manhattan, and new restaurants located in Gotham Market at The Ashland in Fort Greene, Brooklyn: Apizza Regionale, serving pizza made from locally sourced ingredients; Flip Bird, serving rotisserie and fried free-range, antibiotic- and growth hormone-free chicken; and Egg @ The Bird, a coffee and breakfast counter (he also oversees Bar Granger).
So grab your tongs and wire brush, fire up the grill, and cook a feast fit for the king of your castle.
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Clean your grill before and after cooking. Food releases more easily from a clean grill, so “while the grill is still warm, at the end of your grilling, take a wire brush to it and hit it pretty good. You don’t want all the build up from the grilling,” Stage says. “And do it again before you start [next time].”
Master the fire. Every grill has hot and low spots, Stage says, and you’ll want to know where they are. “There are some meats that you want to grill low and some you want to grill high. With any type of barbecue you want to go low, and you tend to go high on any type of grilled meat like steaks or burgers or chops,” Stage says. “Then you want be able to get that food from high to low to get it in a resting spot.”
Season your meat before grilling. Especially with a burger or steak, give it a good salt and then get a sear on it. “You want to get that crust. It’s a matter of putting the meat on the grill, getting that good crust, and leaving it on one side before flipping it so you do get that good sear. Then once you get that good sear, the meat will release from the grill,” Stage says.
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Try fruits and veggies on the grill. Stage says any fruit or vegetable that won’t fall through the grate on the grill will work, but this time of year he especially enjoys grilled asparagus, and corn on the cob a little later in the season.
Manhandle the meat. Try to avoid poking the meat and flipping it too early. “If it doesn’t want to be flipped, it lets you know. If it’s sticking to the grill just leave it alone, don’t flip it. It will release on its own when it’s ready to flip,” Stage says.
Buy just any meat. “I like to look for marbling,” Stage says. “I’m looking for a decent fat content.” You want to see the white flecks of fat throughout the meat, he says, which will self-baste the meat while cooking, and fat is the flavor of the meat.
Lose your patience. This goes hand in hand with not manhandling the meat. Cooking on the grill takes patience, Stage says, and that’s when people flip the meat too early. “That’s the wrong approach,” he says.
Use expensive cuts, especially if it’s your first time cooking on a grill. “Keep it simple,” Stage says. “Do a burger. That way if you screw it up, you’re not out a lot of money. That will give you a good understanding of how the fire and grill works.”
Keeping all these do’s and don’ts in mind, as with anything, the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it. “Whether it’s a gas or charcoal grill, once you understand the nuance of it and understand the fire, get a good piece of meat, and have a little patience,” Stage says. “That’s how you get good at it.”
Main image: Chef John Stage, owner of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and, most recently, Flip Bird, Egg @ The Bird, and Apizza Regionale (and oversees Bar Granger), located in Gotham Market at The Ashland in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Courtesy Chef John Stage
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