Top summer grilling tips

When it comes to grilling, if you ask me, I prefer charcoal to gas simply because it truly delivers real smoky flavor. Gas grills can…

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Top summer grilling tips

Top Summer grilling tips. (Shutterstock)

When it comes to grilling, if you ask me, I prefer charcoal to gas simply because it truly delivers real smoky flavor.

Gas grills can be more convenient, but if you can…treat yourself to a charcoal chimney. Which reminds me of the way my dad would grill “asados” for the entire family.

SEE ALSO: Healthy recipes for a BBQ celebration 

A ritual that would take an entire day, starting very early in the morning to get the meat and prepare the grill.

What I did learn from my dad’s parrilladas?

• Always go to a butcher and get fresh meat.

• Don’t ever buy the pre-packaged produce.

• Take your time to prepare the grill, the differences between direct heat and indirect heat, and never rush the meat.

Here is my Charcoal vs. Gas list to help you decide what’s best for you.

Flavor

Grilling with charcoal gives the meat a very distinct smoky flavor.

Electric grills add almost no extra flavor.

Convenience

An electric grill is easier to clean and to use, nothing beats the convenience of an electric grill, but as you know, it doesn’t provide with the real fire flavor.

While hardwood grills will give you better flavor than gas, they are the hardest to work with. And when we think about convenience, consider too how you plan to grill. If you want to grill something last-minute with almost no preparation or hassle, then a gas or electric grill might be the best option.

Summer grilling tips

Grilling tips for a healthier Summer BBQ. (Shutterstock)

Space

Charcoal grills need to sit outside. Electric grills are safer in smaller areas. Gas grills produce flare-ups and need to be in a larger space.

Cost

Last but not least, consider how much you want to spend on this summer cooking tool. Gas grills are overall more expensive than electric grills, charcoal being the less expensive. Yet charcoal is more expensive fuel than gas.

In a nutshell

Charcoal Grilling: While it might not be very convenient, it offers the best flavor.

Gas Grilling: It is quick, easy and convenient to use and clean. Yet it doesn’t add any flavor.

Direct heat vs Indirect heat

One of the biggest mistakes people can make is cooking over direct heat.

Tip: Build your flame on one side of the grill and grill over indirect heat to avoid flare-ups.

Direct Heat

If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. When charcoal is grayish, hold your hand on top to determine heat.

Hot: Hold hand over the area for about 1-2 seconds

Medium-Hot: 3-4 seconds

Low: 5-6 seconds

If using a gas grill, pre-heat burners on high for 10 minutes (covered). Then, reduce heat if necessary.

Indirect Heat

If using a charcoal grill, open vents on the bottom and lid of the grill. Light charcoal and when lit, dump them across bottom rack, leaving space in between coals slightly larger than the size of the item to be grilled. (See above to determine heat.)

If using a gas grill, pre-heat all burners on high, covered, for 10 minutes. Adjust heat according to item to be grilled and recipe. Right before grilling turn off middle burner, if you have 3 burners.

What to grill

Whatever your palate desires. From meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, even pizzas, empanadas and arepas! Yet if I have to choose skirt steak has been always my favorite cut of meat to grill—well-marbled cut, full of flavor, juicy, and not as expensive. When it comes to vegetables, anything goes.

Tip: Keep them simple. Just add some salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Grilling will develop natural flavors and will release natural sugars.

Here is my Grilled Skirt Steak Recipe with my dad’s original Chimichurri Sauce:

Grilling tips for a Summer BBQ

Argentine grilled skirt steak recipe. (Shutterstock)

Argentine grilled skirt steak with authentic ‘chimichurri’ sauce

Following the way my dad used to make it, the true Argentine fashion, the steak is simply seasoned with just salt and pepper so the quality of the ingredients is key. Tip: Remove it from the cold a few minutes before seasoning and grilling.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 pounds organic grass fed skirt steak (about 3 to 3½ inch thick pieces)

2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Instructions

Prepare grill for cooking over direct heat with hot charcoal (see details above).

While grill is getting ready, pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill steaks on lightly oiled rack (covered is using gas grill), turning once and, if necessary, moving to avoid flare-ups—6-8 minutes for medium rare.

Transfer steaks to a cutting board. Let them rest covered with foil for about 5 minutes. Slice them diagonally. Serve with chimichurri Sauce (recipe follows), grilled vegetable salad or Russian potato salad.

Chimichurri sauce

There are hundreds of versions of this traditional South American sauce. It is also delicious with empanadas, salads, over pasta, with grilled vegetables and even fried tomatoes.

Makes: Over ½ cup

Ingredients

½cup fresh flat parsley, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar

2 medium shallots, minced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

Sea salt or Kosher to taste

Instructions

Stir all ingredients in a bowl.

Refrigerate if you are not going to use right away.

Serve at room temperature. Last for about 2-3 weeks refrigerated in an airtight container.

SEE ALSO: Summer tips for grilling fruits and vegetables