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Aug 2020 wine dinner



Tips to help grill at your highest level

It must be our making-fire-cooking-meat genetic heritage because most of us love to grill, or at least eat things that have been grilled. Let's take a look at some tips to make those meals even better.


If you haven't used the barbecue in a while, you'll need to clean it up. For gas grills with lids, you can put a water-soaked newspaper inside off-flame and keep a low heat going for a half hour or so. Obviously make sure you don't burn the paper. This will be like steam cleaning the inside and make it easier to clean.

If you can't clean it after you use it when things are softened up, heat the empty barbecue up later to soften the hardened bits of food.

There are scrapers and scrubbing brushes or stones to use on the grate.

A vinegar and water solution is good for washing down the side tables.

Don't forget the ceramic stones or drip pans; those also need to be cleaned. Drip pans can be lined with foil for easier cleaning later.


Take steak out of refrigerator and put your rub on it.

Bring steak to room temperature, then oil it with a high smoke point oil like Avocado oil (not extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil).

Heat grill to 350⁰F.

Lightly oil grill with the same high smoke point oil on the meat.

Timing. Remember that different meats need different cooking times. If you are a grass-fed beef lover as we are, you don't want to cook it as long. It's easy to over-do. Take into consideration the thickness of your steak and the outcome you want: blue, rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, well, etc. A digital thermometor with a probe you can leave inserted in the meat is the surest way to go here.

Don't do the touch test for doneness. Use that instant read thermometer.

Rest your steak a few minutes before cutting because it continues cooking even after you pull it from the grill.

If you've grilled a less-tender piece of meat, cut it across the grain.


Indirect heat

You can push coals to the side or with gas grills you can turn off the side of the burner once it's preheated. Fish is placed over the area without coals or flame.

Rub lemon juice on fish before cooking.

Keep fish refrigerated until ready to grill.

Leaving skin on helps fish from curling and falling apart.

Brush the fish and the grill with extra light olive oil (or other high smoke point oil) to avoid sticking. Using a grill basket helps keep fish intact as well; oil the basket.

Fish goes skin side up and is cooked for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Turn over about halfway through.

Internal temperature should be at least 145° F. Use an instant read thermometer.

Direct heat

Use direct heat for thinner fillets.

Keep fish refrigerated until ready to grill.

Rub lemon juice on fish before cooking.

Leaving skin on helps fish from curling and falling apart.

Brush the fish and the grill with extra light olive oil (or other high smoke point oil) to avoid sticking. Using a grill basket helps keep fish intact as well, and oil the basket.

Cook skin side up over the direct heat source.

Cook 4-6 minutes, then turn for same amount of time, looking for 145°F. Use an instant read thermometer.

Another idea is to steam your fish/prawns/scallops/thinly-sliced veggies in aluminum packets. Cook on medium heat for gas grills or keep 4-6 inches above medium coals. Cover the grill until done (8-10 minutes for a salmon fillet or 4-5 minutes for prawns and scallops).

The larger the shrimp, the longer they can stay on the grill (it is easy to overcook them). Look for 21-24 shrimp per pound, size-wise.

Keep the shell on but remove the vein. The shell imparts that wonderful shrimp flavor.

When we cook or grill prawns or scallops, we brine them using wine. Brine for an hour or so; if you leave it longer, the muscles can break down and shrimp will be mushy.

Using a plank is another option, soaking it in water for about two hours before grilling. Then place fish on plank until done, no flipping.

Lamb Chops

These can be grilled similarly to steak. Just don't overdo them. Use an instant read thermometer.

Buy chops that are at least 1-inch thick.

Pork Chops

Use thick chops. Thin ones cook too quickly and become tough. Look for ¾-1 inch thick chops.

Brine these! Brine helps keep the meat moist and tender.

Pat the chops dry before grilling, then oil them so they sear instead of steam.

Indirect grilling is good for pork chops as it doesn't take long to overcook them. If you're careful, you can sear them over direct heat, them move them off and cook indirectly.


We like to brine chicken as well. It adds flavor, but mainly ensures you have moist meat.

It's best to use bone-in chicken as there is so much more flavor that way.

After brining, pat chicken dry, then oil the various parts which will help the surface char.

Sear over direct heat, then grill over indirect heat. Lower heat can help give that barbecue flavor.

Indirect heat also allows you to put barbecue sauce on the chicken without burning the sauce.


We love our grass-fed burgers! We mix the beef with chopped shallot and Lawry's Seasoning Salt and that's it.

Use your thumb to make an indentation in the middle of the burger to stop it from puffing up and being less juicy.

Chill burgers about 30-60 minutes before grilling. They will hold together better.

Heat the grill to hot. You want them to sizzle when they hit the grill. You can adjust heat later if you want.

Don't press down with a spatula, it just releases the juices. You don't want that.

Toast buns lightly on the grill, add cheese if you want or even some bacon. You don't need a lot of stuff to make a burger great.


Grilling always seems kind of festive, no matter the time of year. Enjoy!

SD! /April 2020

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