Over the lunch hour here today, Lynne Rossetto Kasper answered grilling questions on the Splendid Table Facebook page. Here’s a cleaned-up transcript that pairs questions and answers:
Edward: HEY!!! Thats not a kitchen!!!!
Lynne: No, it’s not a kitchen. Sometimes you just have to make do. But I do have a grill warming up under the desk.
Rachel: What is a simple marinade that you like to use for vegetables on the grill? Would love a new one to try out this summer.
Lynne: A great basic vegetable marinade that you can riff on all summer is a Mediterranean take. Blend together a couple of cloves of minced garlic, lemon juice, good-tasting olive oil and fresh rosemary or oregano leaves. Toss that with the veggies. Marinate them for no more than 30 minutes and go for it.
Lauren: Best beef to grind at home for burgers??
Lynne: The best beef to grind yourself for burgers needs lots of marbling — fat equals juiciness. Go for chuck or break the bank on top loin!
Heath: What is your favorite way to grill chicken? :D
Lynne: My favorite way to grill a chicken is to cheat. I’m fed up with burned-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside. Roast it a day ahead, then heat it up on the grill while you baste it with BBQ sauce. No one will ever know.
The Saucy Cook: Many people ask us, What’s a great, easy way to make a rib rub?
BonBon Bourgeois: A rib rub that isn’t too sweet!
Lynne Rossetto Kasper: Rib rubs can take any direction you want. For non-sweet, I go the Moroccan route. That is grinding whole coriander, cumin, black pepper and cinnamon stick. Mix in olive oil and garlic. Rub away!
Teri: Have you ever grilled an avocado? I had one last night at an izakaya. It was served with wasabi and ponzu. Man, I can’t get over it!
Lynne: Grilled avocado can be wonderful, but there’s a trick. High, high heat — otherwise it melts. So get the grill blazing, brush the avocado halves with a mix of mirin and soy and take them to a fast brown. Lush!
Jackie: What’s the easiest / most delicious thing for a vegetarian to contribute to a bbq?
Lynne: The easiest and most delicious thing for summer would be bright green fresh pea dip (mint, garlic, lemon, olive oil and a tad of creamy yogurt in your blender) with whole sugar snaps, and whatever else looks great in the market. So classy.
Brian: How do I get scallops to not stick to the grill?
Lynne: Scallops won’t stick if you oil your grill. Use tongs and a saturated towel. Also, let them sear before trying to turn them.
Bobbie: How do I make a great grilled portobello mushroom so that it’s meaty, juicy and cooked, but not burnt, dry or underdone? Do I marinate it? Baste it? Cedar-plank it?
Lynne: Juicy portobellos happen when you slow grill. I like to marinate them in a variety of styles, but always with a little oil in the mix. Get them away from high heat and all will be well.
Keely: What’s your fave “go-to” hors d’oeuvres?
Lynne: My favorite go-to finger food for summer has to be easy, like melon chunks on picks that I roll in lime, chile, sugar and salt, along with fresh cheese mixed with fresh herbs and new garlic. That gets spread on cuke slices. Good, fresh contrasts here.
Sharyn: I live in the Pacific Northwest, where we get lots of salmon. Any hints for grilling fish so you get a nice smoky flavor without it sticking to the grill and wrecking the fish?
Lynne: Sally has a dynamite recipe. And in the shameless self promo category, it’s in our new A Summertime Grilling Guide.
Nic: Any hints for getting a charcoal grill going without using a gallon of lighter fluid? And is there anything one could add to coals to enhance flavor?
Lynne: Ban the lighter fluid for lighting up that charcoal. It’s deadly. A chimney starter does the deed brilliantly and it’s in hardware stores. It’s a tall metal cylinder with a rack inside. Crush up newspaper, put your charcoal on top, light, and when the coals are ready turn them into the grill. Brilliant.
April: I have a problem with people touching my grill! Guests wanting to help, moving chicken around, turning meats, violating veggies, basically messing with the method to my madness. I’ve been known to get after them. Am I a bad hostess?
Lynne: People wanting to join in the grilling’s a sign of how inviting and communal this idea of gathering around a fire can be. You have some primal responses going here. How about invite folks to help you by pouring drinks, setting up a table, doing all kinds of things except grill?
Evie: When we were in Tuscany, we enjoyed huge grilled T-bone. Is it best to score the T-bone before grilling or after? Won’t it lose juices either way?
Lynne: We just talked with chef Adam Perry Lang about this. He calls scoring the meat scruffing. You get more surface for browning and turning crusty, so rough up that surface all you’d like. Your meat will be all the crustier for it.
Jennifer: I know stone fruits, in particular peaches and nectarines, are delicious when grilled. What about any other fruits? Would pineapple be a good choice? We are celebrating Dad’s Day with friends who are not eating dairy/soy/refined sugar and I’m trying to think of a tasty dessert that can be grilled.
Lynne: To grill fruits for Father’s Day without processed sugars is easy when you realize that grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruits. And that is like adding an exclamation point to their flavors. Brushing a little oil on the fruits will encourage that browning up to move very fast. Use fairly high heat with pineapple, firm bananas, under-ripe mangos, halved plums, even firm melons. Maybe finish them off with a sprinkling of chopped herbs like basil, rosemary, mint and/or thyme.
Bill: Grilling shrimp: Shells on or off?
Lynne: I go both ways. For folks who aren’t squeamish about eating with their hands, I always go for shell-on. The shrimp are juicier and sticky fingers, schlurping sounds always start of conversations.
Ramie: Last night, we tried to pan-fry frozen flounder. We unthawed it, let it drain, put a coating mix of flour and breadcrumbs on it and pan-fried in canola oil. I don’t know if it was from being frozen and not fresh, but it turned out *terrible.* It seems like the fish absorbed all of the oil. It really was gross and tasted like oil. We ended up throwing it out. I know how to pan-fry fish — coming from an Italian family, we eat a lot of fish, especially baccala, cod, whiting, salmon and tuna. We have no clue what happened to the flounder. Please help! :-)
Lynne: Pan-frying your frozen flounder and having it not turn out might have happened because you didn’t thoroughly pat it dry before you breaded it. Defrosting releases a lot of moisture from fish, so you have to be sure it’s totally defrosted (in the fridge, please, for safety’s sake), and then pat it dry. Try this. It should give you what you’re used to.
Kelly: Do you have a favorite dough recipe for a nice and crispy/chewy grilled pizza crust?
Lynne: For a nice crispy/chewy pizza crust recipe, check out [this margherita pizza recipe]. My favorite all time favorite.
Leah: Have you ever attempted a turducken? Is it worth the work?
Lynne: Yes, I’ve tried turkducken, even on the grill. Is it worth it? No. Wish that weren’t so, but it’s so dense and such a mess of different meats. It takes forever to cook and doesn’t deliver in the flavor category.
Jennifer: Do you send John Moe out to start the charcoal when you have the company BBQ? :)
Lynne: Wish I could send John Moe out to start the charcoal when I have company picnic, but I can’t get him away from those tech sites!
Rebecca: Kebabs are classic, but do you have any ideas to make them more interesting?
Lynne: I love kebabs, and to make them more interesting, I pierce the chunks of meat with a paring knife, stuff them with a spice blend like fresh dill, lemon juice, garlic and allspice. Refrigerate them overnight and then grill. Pancetta, pineapple and chile is pretty swell, too.
Kristen: I’m looking for a gin drink or cocktail that goes well with grilling. And one that is not too sweet.
Lynne: For a great classic grilling drink, check out Pimm’s Cup recipes. This is a bit of British brilliance that is a mix you buy (Pimm’s No. 1 is my favorite) and add to. You will love it and so will everyone else.