For Memorial Day, Grilling Tips From People Who Know a Thing or Two About Meat


Memorial Day weekend is finally almost upon us, which means that America gets to use patriotism as an excuse to grill vast quantities of animal parts. As this signals the official start of the grilling season, we figured it would be a good time to ask some of our local experts for advice on how to treat meat. Click through to see what they have to say on the topic.

Takashi Inoue, chef-owner of Takashi

On marinating:

“If you don’t have time to marinate meat overnight, use a simple barbecue marinade sauce [Takashi’s recipe follows below] and ‘massage’ the meat in a bowl with the marinade for a few minutes before placing on the grill.”

On grilling:

“Two key words to grilling meat: ‘hot’ and ‘brief.’ Your grill should be very hot before placing meat on it; once it starts cooking, its time on the grill should be short.”

On flipping:

“Flip the piece of meat over when the bottom side has just started to change color and the fat begins to appear on the top surface. Don’t turn the meat over and over — this will make the meat lose all of its delicious juices.”

Josh Sharkey, chef and co-owner of Bark Hot Dogs

On vegetables (yes, vegetables):

“The best way to get more flavorful, tender vegetables without charring the heck out of them is a good marinade. I love grilled portobellos and prefer a marinade made with sherry vinegar, balsamic, extra-virgin olive oil, thyme, rosemary, shallots, salt, and a lot of cracked black pepper. Be sure to grill the vegetables on the least hot part of the grill to avoid burning.”

On heat:

“You don’t always need to use direct heat when using a grill. You can always do an ‘en papillote’ of sorts. Marinate fish — perhaps with an herb oil or salsa verde — and wrap in parchment, then wrap again in aluminum foil. Use the top portion of the grill, and bake the fish with the lid of the grill closed. Allow about 11-13 minutes per pound of fish. This method also works very well for potatoes.”

Paul Kirk, executive chef of RUB BBQ

On spice rubs:

“When creating spice rubs try to use whole spices that you grind yourself for more flavor. Use a clean coffee mill or a spice mill to grind spices. To clean a mill, grind up some white rice. The rice will attract the little pieces of spices.

“Rubs that contain no sugar are your best bet for grilling. The sugar in most rubs will blacken and caramelize over the high heat of a direct flame — you’ve seen it happen when you’ve applied the barbecue sauce too early in the cooking. The same thing will happen with rubs — unless you are using indirect heat, which is what barbecuing is all about.”

And on the subject of heat:

“Remember, every time you lift the lid on your barbecue, or open your oven door, you are losing heat.”

On the dreaded cleanup:

“An easy way to clean a food-encrusted barbecue grill is to start your fire, let it get hot, and spread out the coals. Cover the grill grate with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Put it back on the grill over the hot coals. Let it ‘cook’ for about 15 minutes. Remove the foil with tongs and tap the grate with a spatula or brush it with a wire brush. All of the debris will come right off.”

On wood chips:

“Wood chips should be soaked in water for at least half an hour before you throw them on hot coals. Sprigs of herbs, like rosemary, can be treated the same way to prevent burning.”

Dan Obusan, a chef at Great Performances

Consider the vegetarians:

“For a great vegetarian summer dish, I like grilling vegetables and making them into a caponata. Grill a mixture of vegetables, rough dice and mix with a little olive oil, fresh herbs — thyme or basil — and chopped garlic. Serve on top of grilled bread.

“Eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, red onions, and yellow squash are my favorite grilling vegetables because they’re sturdy enough to withstand high heat and taste great with little char.”

And now, a recipe:

Takashi’s Easy BBQ Marinade Sauce

For 1 lb of any cut of beef (serves 4)

1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sake or white wine
8 oz orange marmalade
1 apple, quartered
1 oz grated garlic
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp red chili powder
3 tbsp crushed sesame seeds
1 tbsp light brown sugar

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Marinate the beef in the
sauce for about 10 minutes, massaging the meat to coat evenly. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a grill pan on medium-high heat. Grill beef pieces until caramelized.