Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen! | ParkRecord.com

Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen!

A.M. Stofko, Of the Record stafff

Chef Michael LeClerc of 350 Main gets around. He’s been a sous chef in Hawaii and was a stagiere, the equivalent of being an intern in the cooking world, to Chef Joel Robuchon at Restaurant Jamin in Paris. Suffice to say, LeClerc knows a thing or two about food. He offered some tips and suggestions to kick your grilling skills up a notch.

  • Use the right equipment: Some items LeClerc recommends having on hand: pair of tongs for turning, offset spatula for flipping, low-profile casserole dish for transporting food, thermometer for making sure the food is the right temperature and a grill brush for basting.
  • Experiment with flavors: LeClerc says when using sauces or rubs, keep the type and cut of meat in mind before drowning it in a marinade. For this reason, make the butcher your friend. Letting the butcher know you’ll be using the meat for grilling, will help avoid buying the wrong cut or type. For more tender pieces of meat, such as pork tenderloins or chicken breast, he says opt for a dry rub.
  • Keep food from sticking: Before even thinking of cooking on the grill, LeClerc says it’s important to make sure it’s been cleaned well. Then, oil the grilling surface with a brush and allow the grill to preheat – just like you would the oven. If you do this, you’re less likely to overcook and lose the food’s flavor.
  • Don’t overcook: It’s tempting to crank the gas grill to the highest setting, or throw food on before the coals have properly burned down. These are the leading causes of food sticking to the grill and leaving gunk behind. LeClerc says what you want is to caramelize the food, not char it, which can overwhelm the flavor.
  • Leave it be: Another reason why food sticks is because you probably haven’t let it sit long enough. LeClerc recommends leaving food for at least two minutes before flipping. Also, when flipping, don’t stab the food with a fork; it lets out all the juices. Instead, he says use tongs.
  • Try different foods: Despite what you may think, if you can cook it in the oven, you can probably grill it. LeClerc says beef, like steaks, can be made the traditional way of throwing the meat directly on the grilling surface or you can use a cast-iron skillet and grill it that way. He says fish barbeques well too, as long as you allow it to sit for a minute and caramelize before flipping it over. Even oysters can be grilled. LeClerc says to drizzle lemon oil and extra-virgin olive over a few dozen oysters and to cook them in the shell for a few minutes.
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