Grilling God: Erik Anderson

May is Grilling Month at Food Republic, where we are offering pro tips from chefs and other well-known grilling gods.

"I am morally and philosophically opposed to grilling a hamburger," writes Catbird Seat co-chef Erik Anderson in an email that might as well have been written in all caps. Anderson is our dude in Nashville. Well, he is our dude everywhere, and we enjoy how he's honest about his approach to outdoor cooking — and how there is no place for grilling burgers in his worldview. "A great hamburger is cooked on cast iron. Period. End of discussion." Thankfully, this is only the beginning of our discussion.

Do you prefer working with gas or charcoal?

Definitely charcoal. It imparts a far better flavor, as well as the idea behind cooking outside. There should be a primitive aspect to cooking outdoors. It should be rugged and you shouldn't mind getting your hands dirty. You can't get that when you turn the knob of a stove. There is no sense of accomplishment in that.

What is the biggest mistake the home griller can make?

Being impatient and not waiting until the coals are white and ready to go

What is your favorite cut of meat to grill?

An obnoxiously large cut of bone-in dry-aged ribeye with lots of salt.

Can you defend vegetables on the grill?

Certain vegetables. I think green asparagus, with a bit of char from a grill, is delicious. Finish it with a drizzle of nice olive oil and lemon, super simple.

What do you like to drink with your grilled meat?

Riesling. I love Riesling. I also love the ciders by Etienne DuPont. In my older years I tend to shy away from larger reds.

What's the most epic barbecue you have ever thrown, or been to?

My dear friend, Minneapolis chef Doug Flicker, has one of the most amazing smokers/grills I have seen. It took a semi to bring it to his house. Breaking that in was pretty epic. There was Texas hot links and brisket and pork shoulder and chickens and a bunch of cooks hanging in his backyard and eating and drinking. That was a great night.

What bands are on your grilling soundtrack?

Built to Spill is one of my favorite bands to listen to when I cook. It just brings back a lot of great memories.

What is the worst food item you have seen thrown on the grill?

A hamburger.

Most useful piece of grilling gear you have purchased or used?

Right now I am super into the Green Egg. We just got one for Catbird and it's pretty awesome. I used it to smoke ridiculously large beef ribs for a dinner I did with Joseph Lenn from Blackberry Farm.

Do you mess with veggie burgers?

Ummm, my sister might be the only one I am willing to grill anything "veggie" for.

And I see your stance against grilling burgers. But suppose I asked you for the best blend, period?

50/50 chuck and short rib. Cube the meat and then cure it overnight with salt, black pepper, thyme and garlic. Then grind it coarsely with one pound of Benton's bacon to every 15 pounds of meat. Patty them to a size of six ounces — no more, no less.