The Thrill of the Grill

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | may 2017

Fingers crossed with Jack Frost, but it looks like we can think about ripping the cover off the Weber and get the grills ready for action. In order to have a fun and flavorful grilling season, the first step in our prep is the grill itself. If you skip cleaning the grill, last year's salmon will be more than just a memory, it will be part of every dinner you have all season by infusing its flavor on your T-bone or turkey.

If you choose charcoal, that means taking the off grate, spreading out newspaper and dumping out last summer's ashes and burnt memories and discarding them. Next, take a hose and a very mild dish soap and spray out the kettle and cover until all the soap is cleaned away. A simple wipe down to prevent rust is needed, then tackle the grate with mild soap and a wire bristle brush, followed by a hose down and you're ready to rock.

Gas grills are a bit trickier because of the hard to reach metal surfaces underneath and the gas lines that don't always welcome water. I clean gas grills by heating them up and cleaning the grate with a long-handled metal brush, then let the grill cool down and wipe the grate with a paper towel dabbed with a small amount of canola or vegetable oil. Keep the outside clean with a stainless steel cleaner when it's cool to the touch to keep it looking good all summer long.

Now that the dirty work is done, let's get you to Grill Master status with a few easy tips and tricks. The first and probably most important aspect of grilling is knowing how to use the different types of heat for different types of food. Direct heat vs. indirect heat. Direct heat is simply cooking food directly over hot coals. Indirect heat is when coals are on one side of the grill and whatever you are cooking is on the other side.

You would typically use direct heat when cooking thinner cuts of meat like burgers, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pork chops and thinner cuts of rib-eye and New York strips. If it doesn't take too long to cook, use direct heat. Indirect heat takes some practice and patience, but results are great when cooking bone-in chicken and thick cut steaks or chops. The beauty of indirect cooking is that you still get that wonderful grill flavor but the grill becomes an oven and helps cook the food a bit slower and doesn't destroy your food with those flare-ups from dripping fat onto the fire.

Always wait until your coals are past the hottest point and are starting to turn white with a bit of red glow. If you put food on a grill that's too hot, you're headed toward burn city and money down the drain. Try this marinade for your chicken breasts before you put them on the grill. It's got that spring zing you've been holding out for all winter.

Spring Chicken Marinade

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup canola oil

2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

juice of 2 limes

generous amount fresh cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

Whisk the ingredients together, then pour marinade into a large, heavy duty plastic Ziploc storage bag. Place 4 – 8 boneless chicken breasts into the bag and work the chicken in the bag to make sure the marinade covers all the meat. Gently massage the chicken for a few minutes to help infuse the marinade into the meat. Place the bag in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours (can be marinated over night). Grill chiicken breasts over medium to medium-high coals until cooked through. Enjoy!

Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club "Galley 57" in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.

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