SUMMER SHOULD BE SPENT OUTDOORS.
No matter what's on the menu, the last thing anyone wants is to spend those beautiful summer evenings in front of the stove.
Use these 15 techniques to master the grill so you never have to cook anything inside.
LESS SPICE IS NICE
A fridge full of sauces and a fully-stocked spice rack aren't a requirement for grilling greatness; just coat your proteins and produce with a little cooking oil and season with salt and pepper to enhance—rather than mask—their natural flavors.
In addition to enhancing taste, salting meat in advance (a process known as dry brining) promotes juiciness and browning while helping to achieve crispier skin. Simply salt and refrigerate on a baking rack for at least an hour (or up to two days) before grilling.
While some quick-cooking cuts can be successfully grilled over a direct flame, setting up your grill for two-zone cooking will help achieve the perfect char on every meal.
Preheat your grill by setting all burners at medium to medium-high and closing the lid. Once your grill has reached the desired temperature, reduce the heat on one side to low (or turn those burners off completely); this is your indirect zone. Even if your food can handle constant direct heat, this cooler area can be used as a safe space in the event of a flare up.
Start by grilling food over direct heat for a couple of minutes per side or until browned and crisp. Transfer food to the indirect zone and cook, with the lid closed, until meat reaches your target internal temperature.
DON'T PRESS TO IMPRESS
The spark. The smell. The sizzle. There are a number of reasons why it's tempting to press down on all of that grilling goodness. However, all this actually does is squeeze valuable flavor and moisture from your food onto the flames below.
Burgers tend to swell in the center while cooking. Rather than squishing them onto the grates, simply use your thumb to press an indentation in the center of your patties before placing them on the grill.
RUB A DUB
When you want to build layers of flavor, swap the standard salt and pepper for a dry rub. A generous coating will not only spice things up but will also add a satisfying crust to your cuisine.
There are four aspects to consider when developing a dry rub: salt, sweet, savory and spice. About half of your mixture should be of the sweet variety—typically granulated sugar or brown sugar. One-fourth should be made up of coarse or kosher salt. One-eighth should be spice or heat (ground pepper, cayenne) and the remaining one-eighth should be savory (flavorful ground spices such as cumin, paprika, oregano and thyme).
SMOKED AND INFUSED
Did you know that it's possible to smoke food on a grill? Metal smoker boxes that sit on top of the grates are available for purchase; however, it's also possible to make your own. Start by pre-soaking wood chips for at least one hour. Add a cup or two of soaked wood chips to a sheet of aluminum foil and fold into a packet so wood is fully covered. Poke holes in packet and place on grill close to food.
Following no.5, replace the wood chips with a handful of fresh herbs to impart a distinctly herbal smokiness to your grilled goodies.
MOPPED AND LOADED
Unlike a glaze—which is brushed onto foods near the end of grilling—a mop sauce is a thin mixture (made with vinegar or juice) that is brushed onto meat periodically throughout the cooking process. While typically used for low-and-slow cooking, this technique can be applied to anything for added moisture and flavor.
MARINATE ON IT
Consider a marinade if you have more time on your hands, especially if you're working with a tougher protein. Marinades, which are typically a combination of roughly three parts oil, one part acid (vinegar or citrus juice) and a variety of seasonings, work by tenderizing and imparting flavor into foods; just don't marinate for too long or you'll end up with a mushy mess! Vegetables and seafood only need about 30 minutes, whereas an hour or two will do the trick for most cuts of meat. Tenderizing tougher steaks like flank and skirt takes a bit longer, but a good rule of thumb is to never marinade for longer than a day.
KNOW THE SCORE
Scoring is one of the quickest and easiest ways to completely transform a cut of meat. Not only does it allow spices and marinades to further penetrate the surface, but it also creates a crispier, more flavorful crust. Scoring can also help to tenderize lean proteins by severing some of their tougher outer fibers. Using a sharp knife, carefully make shallow, diagonal cuts—about one-inch apart—to form a diamond pattern on both sides of your steak or chop.
GRIDDLE ME THIS
Chargrilled food might be the star of the summer smorgasbord, but a grill can do so much more than ... well, grill. You don't even need fancy gear to turn this one-trick-pony into an outstanding outdoor kitchen; any ovenproof pots, pans and griddles can be placed right on the grates, opening up endless possibilities for boiling, steaming, frying and sautéing. The same goes for cooking utensils; just make sure they're heatproof and long enough to keep your hands away from the flame. One of our favorite cooking combos is a griddle and a grill press, which is what we use to make this perfectly crispy, extra-juicy salsiccia smash burger.
WOOD YOU RATHER
While typically used for seafood, plank grilling can infuse rich, smoky flavor into nearly any meat or veggie. There are a number of flavors to choose from (such as cedar, hickory and apple); whichever you select, just be sure to give it (at least) an hour-long soak in water prior to grilling. After soaking, grill your plank over direct medium heat until it begins to blacken and smoke (3–5 minutes). Carefully flip the plank so that the charred side is facing up and transfer to indirect heat; now is the time to add your food! If you prefer a more subtle smoky flavor, skip the direct flame, opting instead to preheat your plank over indirect heat.
Foil packets are a great way to prepare a variety of foods at once, allowing the flavors to mingle and meld into mouthwatering magic. Simply combine your choice proteins, produce, sauces and seasonings on a large sheet of foil and fold sides together to seal. If ingredients have different cook times (think potatoes and steak), chop slower-cooking items into smaller pieces while leaving their quicker counterparts larger. Then, grill over indirect heat until everything is cooked through.
PRAISE BE TO GLAZE
Ahhh glazing—where would grilling be without it? This is when meats and veggies are brushed with a sticky-sweet sauce (we reach for Schnucks Braggin' Rights BBQ Sauce) resulting in a decadent, caramelized and oh-so-addicting crust. Not to be confused with mop sauces, glazes should only be brushed onto foods within the last few minutes of cooking to ensure no sugars are burnt in the process.
STICK 'EM UP!
Craveable, customizable kabobs make for a simple snack or a fun family dinner.
Cut ingredients into uniform pieces (typically 1- to 1½-inch cubes) and thread onto skewers, making sure to leave space between each piece. Brush with oil, butter or sauce and season as desired. Grill and serve.
HEALTH IN A HANDBASKET
The easiest way to flame-grilled fruits and veggies is a grill basket. Not only do they keep pieces from falling through the grates, but they promote quick and even cooking.
Start by preheating the grill with the basket on the grates. Cut produce into evenly sized pieces and toss with oil and seasonings. Add to basket and cook, tossing occasionally, until desired doneness.
CHEDDAR CHEESE + SLICED JALAPEÑO + CRISP BACON + CHIVE CREAM CHEESE
AMERICAN CHEESE + FRIED EGG + HASHBROWNS + GREEN LEAF LETTUCE + KETCHUP OR HOT SAUCE
SWISS CHEESE + SAUTÉED MUSHROOMS & ONIONS + HORSERADISH SAUCE + DIJON MUSTARD
PROVOLONE CHEESE + GRILLED PINEAPPLE + HAM OR CANADIAN BACON + GRILLED RED ONION + MAYO + TERIYAKI SAUCE
FRESH MOZZARELLA + TOMATO + FRESH BASIL LEAVES + BALSAMIC GLAZE
PORK & PEACH
PORK LOIN + PEACHES + PLUMS. BRUSH WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR. SERVE TOPPED WITH SLICED GREEN ONION.
BANANA + MARASCHINO CHERRIES + PINEAPPLE + POUND CAKE. BRUSH WITH BUTTER. SERVE TOPPED WITH CHOCOLATE SAUCE AND CHOPPED PEANUTS.
BREAD CUBES + PEARL ONIONS + CHERRY TOMATOES + BELL PEPPER + ZUCCHINI. BRUSH WITH OLIVE OIL. SEASON WITH SALT, PEPPER, BASIL AND THYME.
HOT DOGS + TOMATO + ONION + PICKLES + SPORT PEPPERS. BRUSH WITH OLIVE OIL. SERVE TOPPED WITH YELLOW MUSTARD, RELISH AND CELERY SEEDS.
SIRLOIN STEAK + PARBOILED BABY POTATOES + PARBOILED CARROTS + MUSHROOMS. BRUSH WITH OLIVE OIL. SERVE WITH STEAK SAUCE.
Planning your food for the week?
When meal prepping, consider utilizing next-overs—separate meal components, rather than fully assembled dishes—to save time without compromising quality. Sauces, dressings, marinades and dry mixes will hold the longest. Make these first and store in the fridge for use all week long. Produce can be washed and chopped, (or even skewered) up to three days in advance; cooked meats will last about two.
Or maybe you're hosting a backyard bash?
Keep the above tips in mind to ensure your gathering goes off without a hitch; having all the chopping and mixing done will make a world of difference on the big day. Or, for the simplest of smorgasbords, just pair your freshly grilled mains with ready-to-go sides like chips and dip, Schnucks Shortcuts and pre-made sides from our deli.
Save big with the Schnucks Butcher Bundle!
The Schnucks Butcher Bundle is an easy and affordable way to celebrate summer in style. Simply select your favorites from an assortment of proteins—cut fresh daily by our butchers —such as ground beef, pork steaks and so much more. Look for the sticker, then mix and match any four for the low price of $19.96!