Emeril Lagasse fixes your grilling hangups
Ah, barbecue season! The days are longer, the fireflies are twinkling and the grill is raring to go. But if the thought of going anywhere near a propane tank sends you shivers colder than an ice cream cone, fear not: Emeril Lagasse, star chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, is here to help. He outlined the mistakes grillers make and how to avoid them.
Not having enough fat on your meat: “You have to have a good percentage of fat,” Lagasse says. “You’ve gotta have at least 10 to 15 percent fat or it’s not gonna be great.”
Not letting your meat settle: “We season ground meat and we overwork it. We never let the air come out of it and let it rest. Immediately after we overwork it we just put them right on the grill and we wonder, what happened to this burger? If you season it the night before and then take the meat out, let it get to room temperature, then shape it into burgers, then put them on the grill, it makes a huge difference.”
Constantly flipping a burger: “People are constantly flipping the burger over and pressing on the burger,” he says. “Leave the burger alone. Let it cook one side and then turn it over. Don’t press the juices out of it.”
Layering your burger the wrong way: When Julia Child came on Lagasse’s show, she gave him a lesson in burger prep that he now passes on. “If the burger doesn’t touch one part of the bun, then the burger’s gonna slide,” he says. “What a lot of people do is put lettuce, tomato, and then they put the burger, and then they dress the other side of the bun and, then they put the onion on top of that, and they put the bun on it, so the meat really doesn’t have any friction. You take a bite and it’s almost in your lap. Julia explained to me that one part of the burger has to touch the bun and then you can build it from there.”
Grilling fish wrong: “The biggest mistake that people make is that the grill is too hot. It should be more like depending on what type of fish — steak or more of a filet,” says the chef, who recommends a fish spatula for handling the delicate protein. And before you even fire up the grill, let your fish settle as you would meat. “Take your protein out of the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, and let it just come up to room temperature. Then, brushing it with oil on both sides and then seasoning it is the key.