Founder of AmazingRibs.com, the legendary Meathead is known as the barbecue whisperer. I however, like to call Meathead the “GPS at the Grill.” During our Kitchen Chat at the Grill Grate booth at National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Meathead shares his expert tips for grilling from his new book Meathead and outlays the science behind the success to “outsmart the grill.” His culinary quest to provide a scientific explanation results from the “nerd” movement in the culinary world by Alton Brown, Harold McGee, Nathan Myrhvold, Kenji Lopez-Alt and many others to dig deeper and better understand the “why” behind the “how.” To test theories and debunk grilling myths, Meathead partnered with Dr. Greg Blonder, an accomplished food scientist and physicist. Meathead is even married to a scientist. Lou, his wife of 39 years is actually a high ranking food safety scientist. “Lou is the better cook,” Meathead says. “Except when it comes to eggplant. She actually prefers my recipe for eggplant parmesan on the grill.”
Meathead’s first tip is to get a really good digital thermometer. Meathead explains, “You’ll never undercook or overcook if you have a good thermometer. In five seconds you will get a precision read. It’s the single most important tool for inside and outside grilling.” In explaining the meat science of grilling, Meathead says, “Heat is energy.” He discusses the three types of heat. Radiant is above the flame. Convection is off to the side and will provide gentle and even warm air circulation and conduction is cooking on grill grates in which the metal holds the heat. “Remember that the exterior of the meat cooks the interior,” he says. Meathead even has the answer to what causes the stall in heating the meat. “It’s cooling by evaporation.” His book provides tips on how to work through a stall.
Meathead’s second tip is to use salt. “Salt is the only spice on the rack that will penetrate the surface of the meat. You can put it on in advance before cooking.” And speaking of spices, Meathead says, “Smoke is a spice you can’t get on your spice rack. The ultimate smoke is the invisible blue smoke.” His book provides great tips and techniques on the science of smoke.
Meathead’s third tip is to always grill on a clean and smooth surface. To prevent excessive smoking and sticking, put cooking oil on cold meat. That way it doesn’t heat up as quickly. The hardest thing is fish. That always seems to stick, but you can oil the cold fish or even put Mayonnaise on the fish and that will help. ”
What are you grilling this summer?
Savor the day!