By Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough, May/June 2009
Does anything inspire more “oohs” and “ahs” than golden, juicy cuts of meat hot off a grill? Hardly. We wanted in on this game, so, never ones to be shy, we bought a testosterone-doped grill that arrived at our house in Connecticut on a flatbed truck and had to be off-loaded with a forklift.
For a time, we lived in grill bliss: seared steaks, jerk-rubbed pork chops, oohs and ahs aplenty.
Then we realized we were going to have to haul that behemoth in and out of the garage at the beginning and end of every grill season. Getting it indoors last winter was no problem. It was all downstairs. Yeah, somebody’s back bore the brunt of it, but two Advil and the job was done.
For months, we missed the grill fare, but summer comes inevitably, even in New England. And then came the epic struggle. Upstairs to the deck, six steps that might as well be six flights—the two of us struggling under the grill like the middle-aged oafs we are, the dog barking, the rail bulging as the thing knocked against it.
What we’ll do to get back to those oohs and ahs. Yes, we’re now ensconced in the usual fare from the grate: chicken and chops, caramelized right over the heat. But to bring out the best in the grill—and the most admiration from an audience—we like to break out the big cuts of meat: the pork loins, the legs of lamb. Cut into a crispy, brown turkey breast and get ready for your big bow!
Those big cuts of meat that we love happen to be incredibly easy to grill, once you know the secret of indirect heat. A grill’s ambient but intense heat roasts these larger cuts to perfection. What’s more, it produces an even better crust than an indoor oven affords. And that great, smoky flavor!
Listen, no one wants to turn on the oven in the summer. But that’s no reason to stop roasting. You’ve already got an oven out on the deck. So with less trouble than you think, you can grill-roast perfectly caramelized chicken thighs, spice-rubbed pork loins and smoky turkey breasts in no time.
So here’s how it works: You set the cuts to the side of the heat, not directly over it. If you’ve got a gas grill like ours, you preheat it then turn off the left or right side, or just the back burners if you have a front-to-back system. If you’ve got a charcoal grill, you build a hot, well-ashed coal bed in the center of the grill, then rake the coals to the side, leaving one side without any direct heat. In either case, you set the meat on the portion of the grill grate without any direct heat under it. Cover the grill and away you go.
Once you’ve got the technique down, you, too, can get the most out of your grill in the summer. And best of all, you’ll have used it well and truly by the time you have to lug it back down the stairs. Unless, of course, you live in a place where no lugging is necessary. But if that’s the case we don’t even want to hear about it.