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ATLANTA CHEFS SHARE THEIR GRILLING SECRETS FOR AN IMPRESSIVE TAILGATE OR BACKYARD COOKOUT THIS FALL
Try Soaking Wood Chips for Added Flavor, and Keep It Creative with Crab Legs!
ATLANTA (Sept. 26, 2016) -- It’s fall! The focus has shifted to the three Fs: Football, Friends and Food. Don’t worry if your tailgating playbook needs a few new moves; some of Atlanta’s top chefs are sharing their best grilling tips for this gridiron season.
For starters, stop playing with your patties. Advises Ray’s Killer Creek executive chef Mike Fuller: “Take care not to overwork ground beef when making patties. If you handle it too long, the heat from your hands will start to melt the fat and change the consistency and texture of the cooked patty. Also, if it's overworked it will result in a tough patty. You want it to be super fresh ground beef that just holds together for cooking then is juicy and tender when eating.”
For Garrett Teckmyer, executive chef of Buckhead’s The Big Ketch, the more planning and prep you do (preferably with wood chips), the better. “I like to soak wood chips overnight and then mix them into the hot coals slowly to add a nice smoke flavor to my burgers,” he explains.
Oh, and here’s a plot twist — your grill can cook things besides your usual go-to proteins. Teckmyer suggests trying out some crab legs. “First, wrap them in a wet paper towel, and then wrap them in an aluminum foil packet,” says the chef. “With just five minutes on the grill you have grilled steamed crab legs.”
What kind of grill should you be firing up? Aria’s executive chef/owner Gerry Klaskala suggests the egg. “My Big Green Egg is my secret weapon. Get one and learn how to use it.”
Great grilling cannot be rushed. Every chef agrees that patience is a virtue when it comes to successful grilling. For Fuller, this includes tempering your steaks. “I pull my steaks out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling so they get right about room temperature. This allows the meat to relax and not seize up when added to a hot grill,” says the Ray’s Killer Creek chef.
As far as your fire, Gypsy Kitchen executive chef Matthew Ridgway advises using wood-based charcoal. “It’s pricier, but you end up using less.”
Klaskala suggests a chimney fire starter as well. “Kick the lighter fluid habit,” he says. “Your food will be much better.”
When it comes to ingredients, our chefs agree: buy the best you can find. As a huge Penn State and NASCAR infield tailgater, Marlow’s Tavern executive chef/co-founder John Metz always urges using quality product. “Locate the best steak, ribs or brisket. Don’t compromise,” he implores.
Fuller prefers hand-cut steaks from a trusted butcher. “Find steaks that are at least an inch thick; a rib-eye or a New York strip that has a 1/4-inch fat cap, which will melt and baste your steak while cooking.”
Ridgway advises letting it rest for 10 minutes. And those juices that run off onto the serving plate? “I save them and pour them into my baked potatoes,” he says. “Salty, meaty goodness.”
Naturally, celebrity chef/owner of Gunshow and Revival and “Pure Pork Awesomeness” cookbook author Kevin Gillespie’s favorite thing to grill is pig. “I like it better,” he explains. He even has a simplified Korean barbecue recipe in the book using thinly sliced pork shoulder and “whatever condiments you have.”
Now you’re all set to tackle game day grilling and keep your friends expertly fed all through the season. Go ahead, toss your tongs in the end zone and dance a little. You know you want to.