This summer, wouldn't it be nice to bring the grilling indoors, away from the heat and the bugs? While the rest of the country is just now heading into outdoor grilling season, it can be unpleasant to stand over an open flame in Florida. In June.
And with Father's Day on Sunday, it's a chance to welcome Dad into the air conditioning while you prepare outdoor favorites inside. Indoor grilling is also essential for people who don't have the outdoor space to grill, and it's usually easier in terms of cleanup. Here's how to master it.
Any conversation about indoor grilling must start with the George Foreman grill, the ubiquitous-in-the-'90s black clamshell that exploded in popularity around the same time America took to the high-protein Atkins diet. Foremans offered a quick and painless way to cook meat, and its signature slanted shape and drip pan meant fat collected in the grill instead of on your plate.
The grills, which come in almost every size imaginable and are electrically heated, cook food by sandwiching it between two ridged panels, meaning both sides get cooked at once and are branded with those classic barbecue grill marks.
George Foremans are indeed ideal for cooking meats, and anything that could benefit from some pressing, like a panini.
Another appliance to consider to get a taste of the outdoor grill inside your kitchen is an infrared grill.
These particular grills are similar to gas grills, except their heat source comes from infrared technology as opposed to a direct flame. The idea is to reduce the amount of smoke given off, making the appliance ideal for use indoors.
In terms of food preparation, it's the same process as an outdoor grill: Select your meats (or vegetables) of choice, rub with marinade or dry seasonings, then cook on the grill. Just like an outdoor grill, you lay the food across a grate situated above the infrared heat source instead of fire. The grate preheats in minutes. As the food cooks, far less smoke is given off than during your typical outdoor barbecue.
Beverly Buss, general manager of the Williams-Sonoma at International Plaza, which hosts cooking classes that feature their newest infrared grill, says cooking with this kind of grill is very similar to using an outdoor gas grill. Her favorite thing to cook? "Probably vegetables with a little olive oil and seasoned with some of our rubs."
Indeed, just about anything you can cook on an outdoor grill you also can cook on an indoor infrared grill. A constant cooking temperature means that all of the food cooks evenly. The high temperature also means that meats can be nicely seared. Try adding wood chips to the drip pan of the grill to create a smoky taste.
And the grills, like George Foremans, can easily fit on a countertop and are light enough that they can be moved around the kitchen, or the house.
There's an even easier way to get an authentic grilled taste without charcoal: a grill pan. Typically cast iron, these skillets are made with ridges on the bottom instead of a smooth surface, and use the heat from your stove to mimic grilling. Grill pans go right on your stovetop and are often either squared and sized to fit on top of one burner, or rectangular and large enough to fit over multiple burners.
We asked Food Network chef Jeff Mauro, who hosts the channel's Sandwich King show and is currently promoting his new partnership with Mark West wines, how he masters indoor grilling. He's a fan of the grill pan in particular, which can also be used in conjunction with your oven.
"If you're cooking on a pan or a grill top, once you get a beautiful sear on all four sides of the (meat) you can pop it in the oven at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes," Mauro said. "For accuracy, invest in a good instant-read digital thermometer. They rarely lie, they're rarely late, and they'll last for years."
"I like to marinate my steak before cooking with a wine like Mark West California Pinot Noir, shallots and fresh thyme," he said. "Before cooking on a stovetop, it's important to take the marinated steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature in your kitchen for about an hour prior to cooking. That way, the meat isn't cold and won't seize up when you put it on the hot grill; this helps avoid only cooking the outside of the meat while the interior is too cold."
More so than George Foreman grills or infrared grills, grill pans are able to best replicate an outdoor grill's ability to cook food quickly with a dry heat that creates a crust on the outside of the grillable. There's also the added boon of being able to adjust the heat, just like you would with a regular skillet. And they tend to be cheaper (think between $20 and $40) than their indoor grill counterparts.
Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.
Black Jack Burger
2 pounds ground chuck (15 to 20 percent fat content)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
4 ciabatta buns or 4 slices ciabatta loaf, toasted
About ½ cup olive tapenade
Thinly sliced ripe tomato
Divide the meat into 4 portions and shape into evenly sized patties. (Handle the meat gently to keep the texture light and the burger juicy.) The patties can be shaped, covered and refrigerated overnight at this point.
When ready to cook, heat the measured olive oil in a large grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Alternatively, heat a George Foreman grill or infrared grill. Generously season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper.
Cook the burgers, basting them with the fat in the pan using a large spoon and flipping halfway through the cooking time, about 7 to 10 minutes total for medium rare. (Do not press down on the patties while they are cooking.) For the last minute or two, drape a slice of cheese over each burger to melt, if using a grill pan.
Remove the burgers to a platter, place in a warm spot and let rest for several minutes before serving.
To assemble the burgers, spread each of the bun bottoms with about a tablespoon of tapenade. Add the burgers and top with lettuce and tomatoes and another tablespoon of tapenade. Cover with the bun tops. Serve immediately.
Source: chowhound.com, adapted from Hubert Keller with Penelope Wisner
Pineapple-Glazed Shrimp Skewers
5 cups large dices of pineapple (from 1 large pineapple, about 5 pounds)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 medium garlic cloves
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
36 extra-large shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled and deveined
12 (10-inch) metal or wooden skewers
Combine 2 cups of the pineapple and the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic in a blender on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Skim off foam and reduce heat to low. Simmer until glaze is thick and syrupy enough to coat the back of a spoon and has reduced to about ¾ cup, about 30 minutes. Stir in cayenne and set aside to cool slightly, at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat an infrared grill or a grill pan over high heat until very hot.
Skewer 1 shrimp, making sure to pass the skewer through the thick portion and the tail portion, then skewer 1 piece of the remaining pineapple. Repeat, alternating between the two and leaving no space in between, until you have 3 shrimp and 2 pineapple pieces per skewer. Brush the skewers on one side with the glaze.
Rub the grill with a towel dipped in vegetable oil, place the skewers on the grill glaze-side down, and brush the other side of the skewers with more glaze. Continue brushing and turning every few minutes until the thick portions of the shrimp are white and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the grill and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Thai Grilled Chicken Breasts
4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each
½ bunch cilantro
4 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Oil, for the grill pan
Thai sweet chili sauce, for serving
Trim chicken breasts of fat and membrane, if necessary, and flatten the thicker parts slightly using the flat side of a mallet.
In a blender, puree the cilantro, garlic, sugar, pepper, fish sauce and soy sauce until smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken breasts and rub it over and under the skin. Put the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. (You can also refrigerate the breasts for up to 2 hours, letting them sit out on the counter for 1 hour before cooking.)
Place a stovetop grill pan over medium heat and let it get hot, then brush the pan with oil. Place the marinated chicken breasts on the grill pan skin-side down and cook until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to flip the breasts and cook until firm to the touch, about 5 minutes more. Remove the chicken to a warmed platter and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Slice the breasts against the grain and serve with Thai sweet chili sauce on the side.
Grilled Cheese With Dates and Prosciutto
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 slices crusty bread
8 slices prosciutto
8 slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup pitted dates, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice. Heat a George Foreman grill or a grill pan over medium heat. Put 2 bread slices in the skillet, buttered-side down.
Layer 2 slices of prosciutto, 1 slice of cheese, one-quarter each of the dates and basil and another slice of cheese on each piece of bread. Close each with another piece of bread, buttered-side up.
Cook, pressing the sandwiches occasionally with a spatula if using the grill, until the cheese melts and the bread is golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat to make 2 more sandwiches.
Source: Food Network Magazine
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds and stems. Slice the peppers lengthwise into pieces and cut again to desired size, depending on how you plan to use them. Leave them thick and long for a side dish to the main entree, or dice to use later in a salad or other mixture.
Add peppers and the rest of the ingredients to a zip-top bag and mix well so that the peppers are coated.
Preheat a George Foreman grill (or infrared grill) on high for at least 5 minutes with the lid closed. Place peppers on grill and close lid. Grill for approximately 5 to 8 minutes or until peppers have grill marks and are tender to the touch.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times
Tips for grilling indoors
■ The thing about grilling indoors is that, hopefully, you're creating less smoke than you would outside. That means less smoky flavor. If you're craving that kiss of charcoal, add some smoked salt or other spice like paprika to your grillables while they're cooking.
■ Use oils that are able to withstand high temperatures, like canola or even coconut. Stay away from olive oil, which has a low smoke point and won't be able to hold up to the grill temps.
■ Prepare foods just like you would for an outdoor grill, including marinating meats and vegetables. To cut down on smoke while cooking, pat meats and veggies dry before cooking.