Ahhh, summer. The perfect time to invite some friends over and fire up the grill, especially with the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner. Nothing says “American Celebration” like a barbeque. That’s why we met up with our specialty chef and grill master Jeff Piccirillo to find out the top 10 tips and tricks for the perfect summer barbeque!
1) Buy A Meat Thermometer: Don’t be fooled by the “hand trick.” Chef Jeff says: “The very best thing you can buy to help you in your backyard cooking endeavors is a meat thermometer.” It is the only true way to know if your meat is done. Chef Jeff recommends buying a digital thermometer that reads automatically. Click HERE for a helpful list of meats and their appropriate temperatures.
2) Keep It Clean: Your grill that is. Don’t kick off the summer cooking season with a dirty grill, especially one that has been sitting around unused all winter. Chef Jeff recommends taking your grill apart, cleaning it, and starting fresh before every summer grilling season.
3) Rub-A-Dub-Dub: Great meat starts with great seasoning. While Chef Jeff was apprehensive about sharing all of his special seasonings, he did give us the foundation for a great rub that you can use on pretty much anything. Equal parts salt, paprika, chili powder and granulated garlic.Half parts sugar, black pepper and cumin. If you’re making chicken be sure to add a healthy dose of lemon pepper.
4) Perfectly Medium Rare: Here’s where that trusty thermometer comes in handy. When cooking steak, once the meat’s internal temperature reaches about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, take it off the grill and set it aside. The steak will continue to cook for another five to 10 minutes or more after you’ve taken it off the heat, so don’t cut into it yet!
5) Let It Rest: According to Chef Jeff, if you cut into your meat right after taking it off the grill all of the moisture (and flavor) will spill all over the cutting board and, “...it will taste like shoe leather.” His advice: always let your meat rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
6) Killer Carne Asada: If you’ve got a favorite marinade for good carne asada, Chef Jeff recommends soaking the meat in it overnight. When marinating carne asada to feed his own guests, Chef Jeff uses a variety of citrus fruits, like sliced oranges and limes along with some onion, cilantro, some of his own secret spice and then adds a splash of cervesa before it hits the grill.
7) Wet-Nap Ready Ribs: When it comes this finger food favorite, Chef Jeff prefers cooking spare ribs because they are meatier than baby backs. To prep the meat for the grill, Chef Jeff will first coat the ribs in his favorite rub made with his signature spices. Before they touch the grill he starts them in the oven at a really low temperature (250 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit) until the meat thermometer reads about 170 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit. He then takes them out of the oven to cool until it’s time to grill. Once he’s ready, Chef Jeff gets his grill nice and hot, paints the ribs with his favorite barbecue sauce and grills them for about a half an hour, until the sugar in the sauce caramelizes. Voilà, a perfect rack of spare ribs!
8) Tasty Tri-Tip: When Chef Jeff is cooking up a tri-tip on his own backyard barbeque says he always cranks up the heat on both burners until the grill is “smokin’ hot.” He puts the meat on to get the outside nice and charred. Once it’s charred to perfection, he turns off one of the burners and moves the meat to that side (so it is not on direct heat) and closes the lid. This turns your grill into a smoky and delicious oven, which lets the meat cook all the way through. If you are looking for a proper medium rare, you want to cook it until the center is 130 degrees Fahrenheit (see tip number three).
9) Know Your Fish: Cooking fish on the grill can be tough, so to ensure that your meat doesn’t fall apart, choose a “steak” style cut. Suggestions from Chef Jeff include Ahi Tuna, Albacore or Swordfish.
10) Have Patience: When it comes to perfecting the backyard BBQ, Chef Jeff says that the first thing he teaches all of Harrah’s Resort SoCal’s incoming chefs is that the more you turn over a piece of meat the LESS it’s going to cook. Leave your food in place and let it cook.
Let us know in the comments which of these excellent tips you will be using at your 4th of July barbecue!