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Summer Eats - Meat Meets Heat
CBC Radio | August 4, 2006
Meat Finally Meets Heat
Listen (runs 8:12)
You've prepared the meat, now take a moment to prepare the grill. Make sure it's clean, and then preheat to burn off any bits that escaped your brush. Any residue will cause your food to stick.
A little oil on the grill or on the food is the final touch to prevent sticking.
The first decision you face as you bring the meat out to the grill is what temperature do you turn it to. It's a decision that will be affected both by what you are cooking, and how you personally want it to turn out.
Fish and thin cuts of meat will generally be cooked fast and hot, so pre-heat the grill to medium high. For thicker cuts or meat on the bone, medium will give it more time to cook through without drying out. As far as personal taste goes, a higher heat will tend to caramelize the outside, whereas a lower heat will generally give a more tender result.
Once the meat is on, you face the question of whether to leave the grill open or closed. Again, meat requiring more cooking time will benefit from a closed lid. Flash cook thinner cuts and fish on an open grill.
Temperature can be tricky because you're cooking outdoors, and the temperature you're standing in will affect the temperature you're cooking in. "If you're cooking on a hot day, your grill is going to get hot and stay hot," says chef Craig Youdale. Wind can also make a big difference.
With all these variables to deal with, unfortunately you can't even rely on the temperature gauge on the grill to help you out. It may break down into 50-degree units, but Youdale has no faith in them. The best you can expect, he says, is a low, medium or high reading.
That could be all you need, or you might want to add a little smoke flavour to your meat. There is a large variety of wood smoking products - chips, planks, even liquid smoke - available. Some of these are relatively expensive, but Youdale says you don't have to go for big money. A small pack of cedar shingles from the local hardware store can last you the season. Just make sure the wood you buy is not treated with any chemicals.
As for variety, there can be some very subtle flavours added by different woods, but Youdale sticks with cedar.
"Cedar is probably one of the only ones you'll get that really has a distinctive, honestly recognizable smell," he says.
And to finish, barbecue sauce, remembering that this is for finishing. Barbecue sauces generally have a fair amount of sugar in them, and will burn if put on too early.
Pre-soak a cedar shingle overnight. Place the fish on the shingle, and wrap the whole business in foil. The water in the shingle will actually steam the fish.