Memorial Day Grilling: Stew Leonard’s Top 5 Questions for Grilling Season Answered
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial kickoff to backyard grilling season and Stew Leonard’s has heaps of fresh-from-farm food to make it a memorable – and tasty — start to summer! The average American family will grill outdoors more than 20 times from mid-May through mid-September,* so having go-to menu hearty steaks, freshly ground burgers, and local vegetables will keep your grilling fresh and easy.
“It’s important that our shoppers know where their food comes from,” said Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of Stew Leonard’s. “We visit our ranchers in Kansas and our fishermen off the coast of Long Island and we count farmers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut as neighbors and friends. We want our customers to really make the most of the season with fresh and local foods for their families!”
No matter what you’re grilling this summer, Stew Leonard’s chefs have the tips and tricks to help you create an unforgettable outdoor meal!
Stew Leonard’s Top 5 Summer Grilling Questions
1. What’s the best way to cook steaks on the grill?
When buying steaks for the grill, ask for a custom trim and cut. Too much fat can cause flare-ups on the grill and give food a burned flavor, so be sure to ask your Stew’s butcher to trim away excess fat. The best thickness for grilling is 1”or 1 ½” – anything less will tend to dry out the meat.
Make sure the grill is very hot (about 600 degrees) before putting the steak on. The first few minutes on the grill are crucial, since this sears the meat and seals in the juices. To sear, make hash marks (a diamond crisscross effect) by turning meat 90 degrees. To keep filets flavorful, only turn them once during grilling. Cook the filets for about six minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Do not pierce with a fork, or the juices will seep out. If using the touch method, press the meat with your finger. If it is still very soft, it is rare. If it is slightly firm and elastic to the touch, it is medium rare or medium. If it is tight and firm, it is well done.
Always allow meats to stand before carving to allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat. Individual steaks should stand for 5 minutes, and roasts should stand for 10 minutes.
2. How can I make fish on the grill without drying it out?
When cooking delicate foods like seafood, it’s best to use indirect heat and to cook them slowly. Grilling shrimp on a skewer is a great trick; serve as an appetizer or as part of your main meal. Grilling a delicate salmon fillet can be a challenge as you don’t want it to fall apart while you’re cooking it. Consider grilling the salmon on a cedar plank or even in a piece of tinfoil.
3. I’m keeping it casual and just want to grill some chicken, burgers, and hot dogs. Any tips?
Grill burgers over medium-high heat. Burgers will naturally “puff up” in the middle, so it’s best to create a shallow indent in the center of the burger patty before they hit the grill. For hot dogs, grill them on medium-low heat so that they don’t burst. Roll them frequently on the grill to allow them to heat evenly. Boneless chicken breast works great on the grill as long as it is flattened with a meat pounder (or rolling pin) to ensure it cooks evenly throughout. Plus, if you’re planning on serving your chicken with BBQ sauce, it’s best to not put it on the food prior to grilling as the food will burn. Brush sauce on the last few minutes of cooking and right before serving. If you marinate the chicken before grilling, wipe off any excess marinade before placing on the grill.
4. What’s the secret to the best corn and veggies on the grill?
Corn, asparagus and Portobello mushrooms are Stew Leonard’s chefs’ go-to veggies for grilling! To grill corn, season each cob with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly toasted. For asparagus, trim and lightly coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill over high heat for 2-3 minutes and serve. To grill portabella mushrooms, lightly oil the inside of 2 portabella mushroom caps with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil per cap. Splash each cap with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Place a 2-ounce scoop of goat cheese between the 2 caps to make a sandwich, wrap in foil, and grill on BBQ for about 5 minutes per side. Let cool 5 minutes, then open. Cut and serve with some grilled ciabatta bread!
5. What can I put on the grill for dessert?
The juicy, sugary-sweet fruits of summer taste even better when cooked on the grill. Grilling removes water from the fruit and caramelizes the sugar, intensifying the flavors and sweetness without having to add a single ingredient. Stone fruits – including peaches, nectarines and plums – should be cut in half and cooked on a clean, well-oiled grill on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side. As the fruits come off the grill, drizzle with honey and brown sugar and serve plain, as a topping to ice cream or Greek yogurt, or with grilled pound cake and a dollop of crème Fraîche. For the ultimate banana split, cut bananas in half length-wise, leaving the peel on, and grill fruit side down for about 3 minutes each side. Serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Stew Leonard’s Grilling Tips
While backyard grilling practically becomes a way of life during the summer months, even the most accomplished of grill masters can use a refresher on grilling how-to’s at the start of the season. Here are Stew’s Grilling Tips for a delicious and safe summer grilling season!
1. Prepare the grill. Just before cooking, lightly oil the grilling rack to keep meat from sticking to the grill, or tearing when you turn it, so it will not lose any of its natural juices.
2. Keep the grill clean. The best time to clean the grill is when the grill is still hot. You can also spray the grill with a non-stick spray to release any leftover food particles. After cleaning, be sure to keep grill dry to enhance grill life and keep food clean.
3. Keep the lid on the grill closed as much as possible. Turn food sparingly.
4. Grill Safely.
o Wash hands and surfaces often.
o Cook all foods to their proper temperatures using an instant read thermometer. Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the centers are no longer pink and the juices run clear. Steaks should be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit and can have pink centers
o Do not re-use plates and utensils that were once used for raw meats.
o Always refrigerate leftovers right away.
Recipe: Stew Leonard’s Grilled Lobster with Garlic-Parsley Butter
Ready to up your grilling game? Here, Stew Leonard’s Executive Chef Michael Luboff shares his recipe for a buttery, decadent lobster on the grill. Serves 2 people.
• 1 live lobster (approximately 1 ¼ to 1½ lbs.)
• 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
• 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
• 1½ tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• Zest of 1 lemon
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• Combine butter, parsley, chili flakes, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside.
• Using a cleaver, split lobster in half lengthwise through its head and tail. Scoop out and discard the yellow-green tomalley and break off claws.
• Transfer lobster halves, shell side down, to a baking sheet; crack claws and place them on the baking sheet.
• Drizzle halves and claws with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
• Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side.
• Place lobster halves, flesh side down, and claws on hottest part of grill; cook until slightly charred, 2-3 minutes.
• Flip lobster over and using a spoon, spread lobster with the garlic-parsley butter; continue grilling until lobster meat is tender, 3-5 minutes more.
*Source: The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)