Executive Chef Jon Fesan (aka the man behind the great chicken two ways dish from Kola House) and Executive Chef Mike D’Armi (the hands prepping the comforting winter soup at Avra Madison) share their meat and fish grilling tips for the summer season. Disclaimer: Information and images for this post were provided and written by Kola House & Avra Madison.
These pro chefs give the 411 on everything you need to know to ensure you have a good cookout. Because is it really summer if there are no grill marks on your meat? Below are the meat and fish tips you need to know to make sure your summer cookout is fiery without the burn.
Meat Grilling Tips | Chef Jon Feshan – Kola House
Preparation: Crucial but often skimped out on – check the marbling. If you don’t have Wagyu beef which has a very high fat percentage, around 20-25%, use a ground beef with an 80/20 meat to fat ratio for the juiciest burger. Looking at the ratio is imperative because if you cook the burger above rare or medium rare, you’re going to melt all the fat that the butcher puts in. Also, never forget to clean your grills right after every use, seems like a no-brainer but many people forget.
Heating element: As burgers cook, the protein in the meat contracts, forcing out moisture. To maintain juiciness, handle burgers as little as possible during grilling. Every turn or prod forces out more juice, which is why you should never press a cooking burger with the back of a spatula in an attempt to speed up the grilling time. The temperature of the grill should be on medium high, cleaned and oiled, meat should be grilled 70% on one side and finished to your liking on the alternate side.
Making it your own: A burger deserves big flavor but that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard. When working with high-quality meat, I love to incorporate the Kola Nut as a powder rub to give a nutty/coffee flavor to the meat, which can either be used as wet or dry rub.
Fish Grilling Tips | Chef Mike D’Armi – Avra Madison
Preparation: Grilling fish can be daunting at first but as long as your master a few details like befriending your fishmonger or local supermarket rep, selecting the right type of fish, keeping your grill clean and knowing how to turn, you’re all set! When ready to get grilling, remove your fish of choice from refrigeration at least 15 minutes before you plan on grilling to ensure the piece of fish receives the proper crust or marks when placed. People often think fresh fish is dependent on where it’s purchased from but even if it’s sold from the best place, if you see that the piece of fish isn’t shiny, bright and firm, look again!
Heating element: Keep in mind that most fish cook quickly so watch closely! To test if the grills temperature is right, listen to see if the grill makes a “Tssss” sound. Once you hear this, place the whole gutted and scaled fish on the grill to produce a sweeter and more moist fish. Fish on the bone is more tolerant requiring about 10 minutes on each side. Thick fillets should be turned after five minutes.
Making it your own: Contrary to what most people think, Greek grilling doesn’t follow exact measurements which is why I love to incorporate Greek inspirations. The piece of fish should sit on a cold plate for at least 10 minutes after it comes off the grill, having it solidify and simply stuff a bouquet of herbs: thyme, oregano and lemon for an herbaceous scent. I love to grill my fish with Greek inspiration, avoiding heavy sauces and marinades – simple lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper is all you need and it’s healthy too!
Alyssa Holder is a writer specializing in food and travel topics since 2015.