Ask any professional chef what elevates a dish from being merely tasty and functional to becoming one that epitomises quality and sumptuousness and they will invariably comment upon two things. These will be the obvious, namely the quality and sourcing of quality ingredients, and the far more visceral understanding of how well presented food alone can incredibly enhance the overall quality and sumptuousness of a dish.
When it comes to preparing meat over a grill, there are few finer looking dishes that a steak, chicken breast or pork loin perfectly seared with those iconic grill marks that just exude flavour and fine, home-cooked food.
This article will suggest a few ways to ensure that these beautiful marks can be exacted upon meat, both on a domestic and barbecue grill.
By far and away the most important factor is heat on a thich gauge grill – not just what is being projected from the grill, but how warm the cooking grill is going to be. To ensure that meat sears well and evenly throughout the grill shelf needs to be as warm as possible, therefore always warm the rack as hot as possible before even thinking about adding any produce.
This is simply the only way to ensure that a healthy rack of grill lines can be achieved, as if the meat is added to a room temperature grill before being cooked there is a high chance that it will either stick or unevenly char. This will prevent the juices and being suitably sealed, and invariably result in a tough and unevenly cooked meal.
It can be tricky for the inexperienced chef to know the temperature of their grill, however to achieve perfect grill marks the temperature ought to be at least 500 degrees fahrenheit. A good way to test this is to grab a juicy tomato, slice in half and apply to the grill face down – ideally almost no juices will escape, turn after thirty seconds spin it over and check for deep, consistent lines. If they are present, then the grill should be go. Even the thickest steak is comprised mainly of internal fluids, so if a tomato sears itself well then the meat will also seal in the flavor perfectly.
Depending upon the size of the grill and the amount of food to be cooked, remember that the warmest parts of the grill will always be in the middle below the flame and towards the back. To make the best use of this, try to place the meat at a slight angle rather than entirely vertical as not only will this allow more flame and heat to affect the central part of the meat.
After a couple of minutes not only should the anticipation levels be rising, but also it is time to reposition the meat to achieve an attractive, seared pattern. Ideally these ought to be diagonal so try to work around the clock, and say if the meat was positioned with it’s top end at ten o’clock then for the best effect reposition it to two o’clock. This will provide a great criss-crossed effect – but be sure to keep the heat as high as possible throughout.
Another couple of minutes, it will be time to flip the meat over and sear the other side. Consider that this side of the meat will already have been infused with smoke and slightly warm, so again it is crucial to add more heat if possible to enhance the sear over the flip.
Take the meat from the grill, give it a couple of shakes over the heat to get the flame sizzling and as swiftly as possible reapply to the grill – try to resist pushing down as while satisfying as the crackle may be, the meat will dry out surprisingly quickly. After a couple of minutes realign the meat as for the previous side, and then very soon it will be a perfectly sear marked and a tantalizingly beautiful meal to enjoy!