Summer time has arrived along with the start of grilling season. Nothing beats firing up the backyard grill and enjoying the mountain air with an ice-cold tasty beverage and a perfectly grilled steak. For those of you who, like me, need a few tips and tricks to give you an extra edge this grilling season, I’ve called upon the expertise of Chef Shawn Cubberley at Elway’s Vail for guidance that will transform you into a grill god/ goddess.
JL: Let’s start with the basics. What are some grill tips or tricks that you can share?
SC: The most important thing to remember is to not rush. Wait until your grill is hot before you put anything on it. You can also prep the grill surface by coating it with vegetable oil. Roll up a paper towel, fold it over twice into a strip, dip the towel in vegetable oil and rub it over the grill grates to lightly coat the grill grates and prevent sticking.
An hour before grilling set your meat out and let it come up to room temperature. When meat is cold the muscle is contracted. When you put a contracted muscle on the hot grill you get an uneven cooking. If you left the meat sit out it will allow the muscle to relax and you’ll get a more even cooking.
Typical mistakes I see made are flipping a burger too often. When you put it down leave it alone and let the grill do the work. Don’t mess around with it too much. Flip it once or twice and that’s it. Do not press your burgers with your spatula— it will get flames and make the burger dry.
JL: What is the average or recommended grill time to achieve the best final product?
SC: Cook times it will differ depending on the thickness. Chicken breasts on the grill take six to seven minutes per side. Chicken with a bone in takes a little longer to cook, probably seven to eight minutes. For burgers try five minutes per side for a nice medium rare to medium. Grill time for an eight to twelve ounce steak is about seven minutes per side.
JL: Aside from the typical burgers, brats and steaks, what are some other foods you enjoy grilling or recommend trying out on the grill?
SC: One thing people can do is grill more fish instead of the staple steaks, burgers and hotdogs. Salmon is a fish that cooks great on a grill. Remember that with fish you would want your grill surface pretty hot and you can place aluminum foil under the fish to prevent it from sticking.
For vegetables, I love to grill my corn and Colorado has the best corn. I leave it in the husk and put the husks in a bucket of water to soak. I go from the bucket with the husks right onto the grill and wait until I get a nice and black, charred husk. Leaving the corn in the husk to grill will give the corn a great smoky flavor.
JL: What is a simple rub recipe we can use to switch it up?
SC: Two tablespoons of each granulated garlic, brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin and coriander. This is a great rub to use on pork roast, ribs, and braising meats. The key is to slow roast your meat and never grill on too high of heat when using sugar.
JL: How do you top off the perfect grilled meal? What are some desserts we can grill up and serve?
SC: Peaches are a great fruit to put on the grill. They are pretty hardy and hold up nice on the grill. Cut the peaches in halves, take out pits and put the halves in a bowl with a little butter brown sugar, salt and pepper. Place the peaches on the grill flesh side down until they get some nice grill marks. Serve those up with ice cream and a little whipped crème.
There you have it. Now get out and grill!