May is Grilling Month at Food Republic, where we are offering pro tips from chefs and other well-known grilling gods.
Before opening 12 restaurants, selling cookware and appearing on hundreds of television shows, including a season-long arc on Entourage, Bobby Flay was obsessed with one thing: grilling. His first serious restaurant job was in the late-’80s running the kitchen at Miracle Grill in New York’s East Village. He would soon become the executive chef at Mesa Grill, a now-legendary spot that brought Southwestern cuisine to the mainstream.
Grilling is in this man’s bones, which is why we wanted to kick off Grilling Gods Week with a quick conversation about burgers being done, veggies not sucking and the trouble with grilling pie. Ick.
Bobby, what is the biggest mistake the home griller can make?
Don’t touch the meat! As tempting as it may be to spear and flip your steak (or whatever you’re grilling) repeatedly, you need to leave it alone until a nice crust forms, pulling the meat away from the grill before you turn it over.
OK, so how do you know the burger or steak is done?
I prefer the touch test, which is really easy and makes total sense. As meat cooks, it becomes firmer and firmer to the touch. Rare meat feels spongy, medium meat feels springy, and well-done feels taut. This is true for pork, poultry and steak-like fish such as tuna, salmon and swordfish. However, for the less experienced cook, an instant-read thermometer is an inexpensive tool that works really well.
How do you make grilled vegetables not suck?
My favorite vegetables to grill are asparagus, corn, mushrooms, squash and eggplant. Each year I wait for the end of summer so I can eat fresh Jersey corn on the cob until I burst. Grilling it in the husks steams it and concentrates the natural sweet flavor, while imparting the taste of the husk into the corn. Corn prepared this way is so good that all it needs is some butter and salt.
What’s your go-to grilling out drink?
Anything with either tequila or bourbon. As for non-alcoholic, coconut water is a great natural hydrator perfect when cooking in front of a really hot grill on a really hot day.
What are some specific cocktails…
I always serve a specialty cocktail at my outdoor parties. Some of my current favorites are tropical sangria white wine and passion fruit sweetened with a lemongrass simple syrup. I also like to do blackberry mint juleps, A watermelon tequila cocktail and a strawberry rhubarb margarita.
What is the worst food item you have seen thrown on the grill?
Probably pie. No one loves grilling (and pie) more than I do. But grilled pie? Not for me…
Most useful piece of grilling gear you have purchased or used?
Chimney starter – the most important piece of equipment ever invented for the charcoal grill. If you are using charcoal, there is no excuse not to have one of these. Throw out that can of lighter fluid now!
Do you mess with veggie burgers?
I just haven’t met a veggie burger I have liked.
Bottom line. What is your favorite cut of meat to grill?
Probably a two-inch thick bone-in ribeye.
More grilling tips on Food Republic: