It’s Grilling Season Again!


Mr. Santa Cruz

At some point in your Priory experience, you are going to find out something about me. I love to grill. I started learning to grill as soon as I was tall enough to look down on the grill and get smoke in my eyes. The smell, the sounds, the TASTE! Both of my grandfathers were amazing on the grill. One built an addition to his house so he could have an indoor grill. The other had a setup that almost made it look like an altar to meat. For them, it was a process, building a fire from kindling until it was roaring and ready. They spent time with family who would come by and check in as the food was being prepared. Those skills have been passed down to me. I remember when I lived in New York, my friends teased me for moving outside of Manhattan to a place in Queens in a neighborhood called Long Island City. People who lived outside of Manhattan were derided as “Bridge & Tunnel” but this place had grills and you couldn’t do that in Manhattan! Somehow, bridge & tunnel stop being an issue and I always had a full table when I told my friends I was grilling.

So how do you succeed at grilling? What’s the secret? I can tell you very confidently that good grilling is less dependent on how you make your flame and much more dependent on the three rules my dad shared with me. You can make an excellent meal of charred meats on a wood fire, charcoal pit, gas grill, or even an indoor electric one if you just follow the three rules.

First, get good meat. I don’t mean you have to spend on Prime meats but you do need to look at the food you are buying. In the US you are taught to buy meat that is marbled. If you are worried about your health, though, marbled meat is bad. Look for leaner meats with an edge of fat on the side. When the fat is on the side of the meat and not marbled, it gives the meat all of the benefit of cooking with the fat but then you can cut off the fat and not eat it, making the meal healthier and easier to chew. Will Prime taste better than Choice or Select? It can, but that depends much more on rules #2 and #3.

Second, use a good salt. People are amazed when I prove to them that the choice of salt matters. I’ve proven this with a simple test. Buy a thick steak, like two inches thick. Cut it into two equal pieces, so you know it’s the same piece of meat. Use the salt you normally use and then use an Argentine grilling salt. There is no way you’ll come back and be able to say with a straight face that the choice of salt doesn’t matter. It is my personal opinion that choice of salt is why people rate Argentine beef so highly.

Third, don’t burn it. Now, this rule is somewhat subjective. If you like your meat well done, then cook it well done. Just don’t overcook it. Keep an eye on the grill. Argentines cook on an open flame and don’t close the cover. We also cook on high heat for steaks and lower heat for thicker meats. The high heat and open cover create an environment where the meat is seared, locking in the juice. Practice is important and with practice, you can prepare meat well done and still make it juicy.

Cooking with an open cover means that the outside weather can affect how and when you grill so I am excited that it’s finally grilling season again!