Andrew Zimmern's Grilling Guide

Andrew Zimmern’s Grilling Tips

Don’t Forget the Oil

Spray oil is really handy for both cleaning your grill and for applying a thin coat of oil to the grill grates before you put a piece of fish or chicken down.

Use a Thermometer

There’s no replacement. Those who have been grilling for 30 years can touch a piece of meat and tell whether or not it’s done, but for most people, it’s the best way to determine when your food is cooked to your liking.

Bigger is Better

Buy a bigger grill than you think you need, because it allows you to do indirect cooking successfully and ensures that you have a warm spot to rest meat.

Put Down the Lighter Fluid

Using a charcoal chimney is the easiest and best way to light charcoal, without any toxic fumes or unpleasant flavors. All you need to do is stuff newspaper underneath the chimney, then fill it with natural hardwood charcoal. Light the paper in several places through the vents in the bottom. Wait 15 minutes, or until the top of the charcoal is white, and dump it into the grill. It works every time.

Keep the Skin On

When grilling fish, do not take the skin off. A well-oiled, clean, hot grill and a well-oiled piece of fish with the skin on will never stick. I also use grill baskets and nonstick perforated grilling sheets for small tender fish.

Bones Impart Flavor

Bone-in steaks taste better than steaks cut off the bone. Grilled bone-in chicken thighs may take a few minutes longer to cook, but that time allows the char to develop. It enables you to go a little slower. It works out better all around. The flavor of the roasting bones penetrates the flesh in a way that adds immeasurable benefit to your food.

The Difference is in the Marinade

When I’m washing up from dinner, I will prep the next night’s meal. Put chicken pieces into a bag with some yogurt, a little garlic, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil, and let it marinate for 20 hours. It makes the difference between good grilled food and great grilled food.

Put Undesirable Fruit on the Grill

If stone fruit like plums, peaches and nectarines are mealy or unripe, rub them with vegetable oil and sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Then put them on the side of the grill and let them roast and get crispy. Serve with vanilla ice cream for a really simple dessert.

Grilling with Fruitwood

I use fruitwood, such as cherry or apple, when grilling or smoking chicken, fish or fruit. Soak wood chips for at least 30 minutes, then place them on top of your hot charcoal in the grill. They will dry and then begin to give off smoke for a short time, adding great flavor. Wood chunks can be used as fuel and flavor. Add dry chunks to your charcoal and they will slowly burn and increase the heat. You can also soak them in water for at least four hours or overnight, and use them to provide smoking flavor for longer periods of time. If you’re smoking chicken or meat at a low temperature, they should last for about four hours.