22 May

Grilling Like A Pro With Chef Sam Merenda

It’s Race Weekend! As every Hoosier knows, it’s time to light up the grill and start your engines for a weekend jam packed with grilling and racing. Grilling is a great way to prepare a meal outdoors – be it on your deck, rooftop, beach, balcony, or while you tailgate at the track. To help heat up your planning for outdoor gatherings, we thought we’d share some favorite grill master tips to get you grilling like a pro.


The Basics of Being a Grill Pro

  • Keep food from sticking by lightly oiling the food. A little bit of olive oil can go a long way.
  • Leaving space around each item on the grill allows for even cooking and smoke penetration.
  • Turn meat just once on the grill. For steaks, turn them when the juices start to bubble on the uncooked side (the clearer the juice, the more well done the meat!)
  • Apply sauces containing honey, brown sugar or molasses during the last 10 minutes to prevent the sauce from burning.
  • If your grill flares-up… close the lid! Lack of oxygen will put the flame out.
  • Place cooked foods on a clean plate, not one that has previously held raw meat, fish or poultry. Bacteria from raw food can contaminate the cooked food and cause food poisoning.
  • Brush the grilling surface (once it’s cooled) with a wired brush to remove any stuck on food.

Direct vs. Indirect Grilling

In my last blog, The Great Grilling Debate, I briefly over viewed direct vs. indirect grilling methods. Here is a little more insight. Either can be accomplished with propane or charcoal grills (or in my case, wood.)

Direct Grilling

A good method to cook foods that take less than 30 minutes directly over heat. This includes boneless chicken, steaks, fish fillets, hamburgers and hotdogs. Remember, for even cooking you’ll want to turn you meat once during the grilling process. Usually this is about halfway through the grilling time. This approach is also necessary to sear meats – adding those gorgeous grill marks, along with flavor, to the food surface.

Indirect Grilling

Similar to oven roasting, this method is recommended for foods that are higher in fat and take longer than 30 minutes to cook. Indirect grilling will provide grilled texture and flavor that can’t be had from an oven. Similar to convection cooking, the heat circulates under the closed grill lid, making it unnecessary to turn the food while cooking, but still preventing burning. It’s important to be mindful of the vents of your grill. For most effective use, the vents should be above the food, but opposite the heat source. Foods that work best for this approach include roasts, whole turkeys, bone-in chicken, ribs and brisket.


The image on the right show how to property set up your grill for indirect grilling.

Fool-Proof Steak Marinade

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a blow, whisk well. Place steak in a Ziploc bag and add marinade, seal to close. Keep steak marinating in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Ladies and gentlemen, light up your grills!

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