Born to Grill: Rob Rainford shares BBQ tips


First aired on Fresh Air (19/05/12)

Summer is around the corner, and for many Canadians, this means stocking up on charcoal, propane and their favourite BBQ sauces because it's time to get those grills out again.
Chef, cooking show host and author Rob Rainford knows a little about grilling. OK, more than a little. He's been teaching home cooks how to make mouthwatering dishes like smoked ribs, spicy chicken and barbecued vegetables for several years on his show License to Grill.

born_to_girll.jpgRainford is back with a new cookbook titled Born to Grill. He stopped by Fresh Air to share some BBQ tips as we head into the summer season. Obviously Rainford gets a lot of questions about grilling, but he said the most common queries tend to be about cooking temperature.

"Generally speaking, I think everybody wants to know, 'Hey, do I just crank my BBQ up on high and go for it? Or what's the best approach?' And I always say to people, 'Listen, figure out what you're cooking, realize there's probably two approaches that you can use to get you to the end result: one's high and fast, the other one's low and slow. You're doing ribs? Low and slow. You're doing a steak? High and fast. So if you work within those parameters, you're pretty much going to come out on top."

Another tip: Having your BBQ at full blast may give you a beautiful sear, but it can also burn your food before it's finished cooking. Rainford has a go-to method for testing heat, which he calls the "Five steamboat rule." Hold your hand over the grill and count out from "one steamboat" up to five. If you can't keep your hand over the heat, it's too hot. Turn it down, wait a bit and then try again.

One helpful strategy Rainford suggests is to have different levels of heat on parts of your grill. Keep one side of the grill at a higher heat and the other side at a lower temperature, which will allow you move food back and forth if necessary. This method also works for a charcoal grill: just pile charcoal together where you want to create a hotspot, and reserve other areas for cooler spots.

To celebrate the arrival of the BBQ season, here are a couple of great recipes from Born to Grill.

Grilled Striped Bass

For a beautiful, simple entree, serve the bass with a seasonal salad and a rice pilaf.

8 skin-on striped bass fillets, each about 250 g (8 oz)

50 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil

2 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

2 ml (1/2 tsp) freshly ground white pepper

2 ml (1/2 tsp) dried chili flakes

Canola oil, for greasing

Fire up your charcoal barbecue or heat a gas grill. If using charcoal, use alder wood chips. You need a medium grilling temperature of around 160 C (325 F). Prep the grill for cooking over direct heat.

Make four slits in the skin of each fillet. Brush the fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and chili flakes.

Grease the grate well with canola oil and place the fish on the grill. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until the skin is crisp and the flesh is opaque.

Makes 8 servings.

Tip: Instead of oiling the grill, you can place a piece of foil between the grate and the fish to prevent it from sticking. If sticking becomes an issue, reposition the fillets to a cooler area of the grill to finish cooking.

Salt and Pepper Prime Rib Steak

3/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1.5 pounds (1.25 kg) bone-in standing prime rib steak
Canola oil for greasing
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine the olive oil, onion and garlic in a resealable plastic bag. Add the steak and place in the fridge for 4 hours.

Fire up your charcoal grill and prep the grill for cooking over indirect heat. You need a medium-high temperature of around 350 to 400 F to grill the steak. For gas grills, preheat the grill to medium-high then burn off one burner to achieve indirect heat. Oil the grate with canola oil.

Remove the steak from the bag and season generously with salt and pepper. Sear both sides of the prime rib steak, then move the steak to the cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. To get to an internal temperature of 125 F for rare meat should take under 1 hour. Remove the steak from the grill and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.