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  • Mark Rosenthal

GRILLMASTER

Cook Meat Like a Pro


Mark Rosenthal Meat Smoking Enthusiast
Mark Rosenthal Meat Smoking Enthusiast

Grilling and smoking meat in the great outdoors requires technique and skill that every carnivore should master. We researched local meat shops and spoke with grilling experts to share some advice for aspiring grill masters.

  

SELECTING A SOURCE

When it comes to meat, there is no such thing as a good deal. You get exactly what you pay for. If the price is low, so is the quality. Lower quality meats often come from animals that have been given growth hormones. Low quality chicken, for example, is often "pumped," tumbled en masse in a saltwater solution to tenderize and add flavor. Understanding this, and knowing how to read a label, will tell you before the spongy texture does if you chose well.

 

Meat is graded by the USDA, and while it has to be inspected before being sold, it doesn't have to be graded. The best cuts of beef are prime, followed by choice, select, commercial and then utility. Commercial, what you'll find in most chain stores, indicates that the meat has been inspected but not graded.


A higher quality of meat is more expensive but more forgiving. If the product is high quality, it will have more flavor and a better texture, taking some of the pressure off of you at the grill. Remember that success at the grill starts with choosing the right cut of meat.

 

GRILLING

Season your cut of meat lightly with salt and pepper, your favorite marinade, or seasoning. Sear it on a hot grill before lowering the heat to cook it throughout. It's easy to overcook meat, especially pork. Meat is actually safe to eat at medium. Whether it's steak, pork, chicken, or salmon, the best way to tell if your meat is done is to use a thermometer. Every cut of meat is different; every grill is different. Meat thermometers don't change. A steak reaches medium-rare at around 130oF.

 

SMOKING

Nothing compares to brisket that falls apart at the touch of a fork. Smoking meat takes a tougher cut, like brisket or even shank, and applies indirect heat at a low temperature for a very long time. This breaks down muscle tissue, resulting in a tender, flavorful meat. For a mouthwatering flavor, try experimenting with different smoking woods. Alder, sweet maple, cedar, oak, apple, cherry, hickory, mesquite and many more. So much of the fun of outdoor cooking comes from experimentation. Rely on trial and error. Have you tried Cheez-it crackers on the smoker? You should.




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