It’s June, which means it’s officially grilling season here in Minnesota. And chef Mike DeCamp of Minneapolis’s P.S. Steak is not one to miss out on any of the open-flame fun. “I’m passionate about grilling for two reasons,” he explains. “First, I get to do what I love — cook — and I get to do it outside. Second, it’s the most basic way to cook. You don’t really have anywhere to hide anything; it’s just you, the food and the fire.” He gave us his top 10 tips for ensuring grate (get it?) fare.
Don’t spend all your money on the tools. All you really need is a good pair of tongs and a nice thermometer. Which leads me to…
Always use a thermometer. There’s no more accurate way to cook your meat to the desired doneness than by reaching the desired temperature.
Season. Season. Season. Find a nice blend of seasonings that you like, and use it liberally. Change it up for different types of meat and vegetables until you find what you like for different foods.
Wait for your coals/wood to get as hot as possible before grilling. This ensures that the heat is consistent and gives you the ability to sear over direct heat as needed.
Know when to use the right type of heat. Apply direct heat to sear, indirect to roast, and slow cook a tougher piece of meat that might need a bit more time.
Don’t be afraid to move the food you’re grilling. People often say to put something in one place and avoid moving it until it’s done. I don’t believe in that.
Use the reverse sear for larger pieces. This means to cook over indirect heat until just under your target temperature then finish over the hottest of coals to get a good sear. This gives the meat an amazing crust without drying it out. You can create indirect heat by shoveling the coals to one side of the grill and cooking over the other side. I like to think about using the grill like an oven.
If using wood or charcoal, try cooking on the coals. Potatoes and onions do great when left whole. I wrap them in foil with some fat and herbs then bury them in the coals for about 20 minutes. It is simple and works amazingly well.
Trust your senses. If something looks like it’s burning, it probably is.
Finally, rest your meat! It’s the best way to keep it juicy after it’s done cooking. Most meat is fine being rested for 15 minutes or so.