Crank it up.
Luck recommends bringing the grill up to 500 degrees to burn off any excess from previous sessions and giving it a good brush. A superhot, clean surface to grill on will yield the best grill marks.
Leave it alone.
People tend to hover over the grill—just don’t! Close the lid, and crack open a cold one while the grill does its job. Resist the urge to flip too fast and too often. Three flips total are plenty: once to the back, back to front and once more for good measure.
Keep it simple.
I hear this from chefs again and again. If you look at most of the dishes at the best restaurants around, they are delicious because they don’t go overboard. Using too many spices simultaneously or trying to create too many flavor combinations overwhelms any dish.
“Don’t overpower the dish,” Henry says. “A tab of butter blended with fresh herbs, salt and pepper and a bit of garlic.”
Make a marinade.
To liven up your grilled meats, marinate them 6 to 8 hours, or make your own barbecue sauce. Picking peppers or seasonal fruit to create a sauce that will accent your meat is a great way to add a little kick or a little sweetness.
Luck’s favorite on the grill is a good piece of carne asada, marinated in soy sauce, pineapple juice with a squeeze of lime to give it that balance of sweet and sour.
Henry prefers good old-fashioned lump charcoal for grilling at home and avoids using anything artificial like lighter fluid that would compromise natural flavors.
Know your instrument.
“People are intimidated by the grill, but you have to learn your grill and temperature control. Figure out the hot and cool spots, and learn to play your grill like an instrument,” Luck says.
Whatever the occasion—and you really don’t need one—if you keep it simple and follow these straightforward tips from OCC chefs, you can wear that “Grill Master” T-shirt and know it’s true.
—by Dionne Roberts