Even if you’re a self-proclaimed grill master, you can still learn something from the pros. We recently caught up with Taylor Wilson, executive chef at The Gafford and a fourth-generation restaurateur, who shared some of his wisdom with us.
Wilson recommends gas over charcoal for three reasons: You don’t have to wait for the temperature to build up, it’s less messy, and you’re likely to grill more often if you don’t have to clean up afterward. Plus, it’s more cost-effective in the long run.
Tip: A three-burner gas grill with a side warmer is the most versatile choice. You
can purchase a high-quality version for under $500 at most hardware stores.
A spatula and tongs, a good grill brush, and a non-adhesive, olive oil–based spray
“I always marinate chicken, but not beef or seafood,” says Wilson. “Chicken takes on whatever flavors it’s exposed to. Marinated fish will stick to the grill, and a marinade will overpower the natural flavors of beef—a dry rub of garlic, salt, and pepper will bring those flavors out.” His go-to chicken marinade is equal parts garlic, basil, rosemary, and parsley. Add a half-cup of each to two cups of olive oil, purée the mixture in a blender, and let the chicken marinate overnight.
Tip: Never use salt in your marinade—it will dry out whatever you’re trying to marinate. Instead, salt your protein just before putting it on the grill.
Regulating grill temperature is crucial (yet another argument for gas over charcoal). Keep temperature constant between 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit; swings in temperature may result in unevenly cooked food.
Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Never take ingredients straight from the refrigerator to the grill. It will shock them and disturb their molecular structure. Let your beef, fish, or vegetables gradually warm up to room temperature before you begin cooking.
2. Don’t just spray the grill. After seasoning your ingredients, give them an even coating with a non-adhesive olive oil spray as well. Spraying only the grill will cause the meat or fish to stick.
3. Don’t eat immediately. When you take meat off the grill, rest it for five to eight minutes before serving. This will allow the meat to reconstitute and the juices to come back.
4. Shake off excess marinade oil before grilling chicken or vegetables; otherwise, the grill can flare up and burn the ingredients—or worse, you.