Grilling and Barbecuing
Grilling is a fast, dry method of cooking tender cuts with radiant heat directed from below or above the meat. Char-grilling or barbecuing, and fan-grilling are variations on this method.
Beef and lamb cuts that are best for grilling are suitable for char-grilling, barbecue cookery and pan-grilling; most are also suitable for pan-frying. Some cuts need to be cut into smaller pieces for sautéing and stir-frying.
• Over-heat grilling. Food is placed on a rack or grill bars over a gas, charcoal grill or barbecue. The grill rack must be preheated and the meat lightly brushed with oil before cooking.
Under-heat grilling. Food is placed under a gas or electric salamander or heated element. The salamander must be pre-heated for fast searing.
Between-heat grilling. This method uses radiant heat, convection heat or a combination of both. The meat is placed between heated grill bars in a vertical toaster/grill, a convection or conveyor oven.
• Trim meat if necessary - remove silverskin, connective tissue or fat.
• Dry meat browns better than wet meat - pat wet or marinated meat dry before grilling. Brush meat with oil or rub with infused oil; this adds flavour and prevents meat from sticking to grids.
• Season at the last minute - if adding salt, or salt/spice mixtures do this immediately before cooking. If salt is left on the meat surface it draws out the juices. Be careful not to burn spices. With dry herb/spice rubs used to impart flavour, brush off excess before grilling, and an option is to brush over the surface with oil before cooking to prevent burning dry rub ingredients.
• Marinating and basting - before cooking, beef or lamb steaks may be marinated in mixtures of oil with vinegar, wine or citrus juice, herbs and spices etc to help tenderise and add flavour. Drain meat of marinade and blot dry before pan-grilling.
• Searing and browning - always pre-heat your grill so the meat browns quickly. Because the heat is intense, care should be taken to avoid overcooking lean meats that can dry out. For best results with thinner beef or lamb steaks, sear them fast to develop colour and flavour, then let them rest in a warm place for a few minutes before serving. Thick steaks or cuts can be seared quickly, then heat reduced to medium or low to complete cooking at a more gentle heat.
• Trellising - beef or lamb steaks can be marked in a lattice pattern (sometimes called quadrilage) by searing each side twice (turn it at right angles) on a ridged griddle pan or barbecue grid. Use tongs when turning the meat and grill the presentation side first as it gives a better appearance.
• Resting times - before serving, allow beef or lamb to rest in a warm place for a short time, depending on size. Larger cuts can rest longer than smaller, thinner ones. A 200g steak may rest for two to three minutes. Resting allows the muscle fibres to relax and more juices are retained in the meat.
Beef steaks to grill, pan-grill, char-grill or barbeque
The tender fine-grained cuts of fillet, rib-eye, sirloin, T-bone, rump and seamed rump, are suitable for grilling, as is the less tender flank steak. These cuts are also good for pan-frying.
Lamb steaks to Grill or Barbeque
A lamb steak is a boneless cut; a chop has bone in. Cutlets, shortloin and middle loin chops, eye of shortloin, lamb fillet, rump chops and steaks, thick flank and topside steaks, lamb schnitzel and lamb topside or silverside steaks are all good to grill. These cuts are also good to pan-fry.
To butterfly cut - when slicing a small boneless piece of meat take the knife almost through the meat to the cutting board on every second cut. This produces hinged slices (like butterfly wings) which can be opened out flat like a book, thus giving double-size pieces. A butterflied leg is a boned leg, opened out flat.
Pan-grilling is another fast, dry heat method suitable for tender cuts, but the meat is cooked directly on the heated surface - usually a heavy cast-iron pan, ridged griddle pan, or on a metal hot-plate. The cooking surface may be lightly greased, but minimal fat or oil is used. This is not frying.
Pan-grill then oven-finish - thick steaks can be seared on a ridged grill-pan then finished in the oven pre-heated to 180 to 190°C. The seared steaks, placed on a tray in the oven, must be turned half-way through the oven-cooking. This method is practical when preparing a set menu for large numbers. It ensures the meat is cooked to the same degree and achieves more consistency in cooking.