Grillin" and chillin"

Local chefs offer tips on how to get the most out of your barbecue
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
-A +A

Memorial Day weekend is known as the time for friends and family to gather and remember those who have fought and died for our county.

It is also a time for barbecuing and grilling.

Two local chefs offer advice on how to — and how not to — grill it up right this weekend.

Grilling versus barbecuing

Rocklin resident Larry Gaian writes the barbecue blog and says there is quite a difference between grilling and barbecue.

He says for those who subscribe to Southern tradition, barbecue is “slow and low” — meaning meat is cooked very slowly at low temperatures with a lot of smoke.

Grilling, he says, is simply using a gas or charcoal grill to cook the meat over a direct or indirect flame.

“At my house, we don’t have barbecues, we have cookouts,” Gaian said. “For some people that is nitpicking, but there is a difference.”

Dispelling myths

Gaian says that one of the biggest myths is that pork needs to be prepared well done.

In fact, he says, the USDA recommends cooking pork to “medium” with an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

While traditional grilling on Memorial Day includes hamburgers and hotdogs, Gaian said he likes to do things a little bit different.

“You can never go wrong with a good hamburger,” he said. “But I really like pork chops, a good country-style rib or chicken. Those are easy to do.”

Pay attention

Gaian says perhaps the biggest mistake a rookie griller will make is not paying attention to the temperature of the grill and overcooking the meat.

Joyce Henry, owner of Roseville Meat Company, agrees and added that when you overcook your meat, it becomes dry, chewy and almost inedible.

Henry recommends lowering the grill temperature and turning the meat frequently to ensure even cooking, and to use a meat thermometer to keep track of internal temperatures.

“Let the meat sit and rest for about five minutes before cutting into it,” she said. “It’ll continue to cook internally, and will avoid losing all the tasty juices.”

Marinade versus dry rub

Henry also recommends not marinating better cuts of meat such as filet mignon, rib eye and New York.

“You’re paying good money for natural flavor,” she said. “All you want to do is lightly season it with salt and pepper or your favorite dry seasoning.”

Other cuts of meat do benefit from marinating, Henry says, such as tri-tip, flank steaks and kabobs, which she recommends cooking in foil or using indirect heat.

Charcoal versus gas

When it comes to using a charcoal or gas grill, Gaian says the only major difference is flavor.

“Charcoal for the most part gives, at least for my taste, a better flavor,” Gaian said. “And it is more versatile than a gas grill.”

He says, however, that newer grills can offer just as much option for taste, especially when cooking things like salmon on a cedar or alderwood plank.

While cooking on a gas grill offers benefits such as better control of the grill temperature, Gaian says when it comes to convenience, it is a toss-up.

“For me there’s no difference between a gas grill and a charcoal grill for convenience,” he said. “Because it takes the same amount of time getting my gas grill to heat up as it does getting my charcoal to temperature.”

Toby Lewis can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.