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Even if we're celebrating the Fourth of July at home this year, we can still fire up the grill to get our great ‘Murican party on.
We asked four San Antonio chefs for insight on how to cook with flame at home. From seasoning tips to protein selection, these pros were more than willing to spill their grilling secrets.
Chef Ernie Bradley of Kuriya at Cherrity Bar says he always brines his poultry before smoking. Brining, when a meat is soaked in a salt and water solution for several hours, allows salt — and later, smoke — to permeate the proteins.
“I always brine with water, salt, sugar, black strap molasses, garlic and bay leaf,” Bradley told the Current
. “Make it salty and sweet, like sweet ocean water.”
If chicken is your jam, brine for 24 hours. Then, Bradley suggests removing the bird from the brine, patting it dry and allowing it to rest in the fridge for another two to three hours before smoking.
Another seasoning option? A dry rub. But Chef Rico Torres of Mixtli and recent Hulu fame
recommends ditching pre-made seasonings.
“Try making your own," he said. "Garam masala — a warm mix of traditional Indian spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper — works great on BBQ meats.”
When looking for quality meat, Two Bros. BBQ Market Pitmaster Chris Jerrick recommends paying attention to the marbling. Marbling refers to the white flecks of fat within a piece of meat that add intense flavor — when you eye it correctly.
"My favorite [cut] is Prime grade Ribeye," Jerrick told the Current
. "If I can’t see the tree of life in the marbling, though, I’m gonna move on."
Lucy Cooper's Texas Icehouse queen Braunda Smith advises trying not to lift the lid too much during cook time.
"Barbecue is an art form, and you have to learn to let the grill do its job," she said. "Remember these words: if you’re a-looking, the grill ain't cookin'!"
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