Side Orders: A few tips to fully enjoy the thrill of the grill

Side Orders: A few tips to fully enjoy the thrill of the grill

June 28th, 2017 by Anne Braly in Life Entertainment

You can have the fanciest of grills and the best grilling tools on the market, but if you don't know what you're doing — if you're a novice to the "sport" of grilling — it's like getting all dressed up in the flashiest ski fashions and not making it past the bunny slopes.

By following these simple rules of the grill from grilling pro Dana Ehrlich, co-founder and CEO at Massachusetts-based Verde Farms, a leading provider of grass-fed beef, you newbie chefs may be inspired to test your grilling confidence.

Anne Braly

Anne Braly

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

* Don't be afraid of overseasoning your meat. Compared to prepared meat, the salt and pepper you rub on raw meat before grilling is minimal and will add great flavor.

* Allow a piece of meat to reach room temperature before grilling. Never go directly from the fridge to the grill.

* Try not to stick a fork in your meat while grilling, causing juices to escape. Instead, use a finger test. Meat at various temperatures will feel similar to different pressure points on your hand. If you like a medium-rare temp, press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb for comparison. If you like it well done, press the tip of your pinky finger to your thumb; that firmer feeling is what you're looking for when pushing on your grilled meat.

* Even if you're hungry, allow the meat to rest after grilling. Resting harnesses the flavor and moisture.

* Choose grass-fed beef: A 6-ounce grass-fed steak may have almost 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce grain-fed steak and about the same amount of fat as skinless chicken. It's better for you, the animals and the environment.

And when you do light up the grill this Fourth of July, forget the brisket. Brisket is one of the toughest of all meats and it's expensive. If you don't know what you're doing, you'll end up having wasted a lot of time and money. For beginners — or even expert smokers — throw a chuck roast on the grill. I think you'll be delighted with the outcome. It's a cheater's brisket. The taste is much the same, but the effort you'll put into smoking it is much less stressful.

Have a smokin' — and safe — Independence Day celebration.

Smoked Chuck Roast

3- to 4-pound beef chuck roast

Texas rub:

1/3 cup kosher salt

2/3 cup black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

Start the charcoal for the smoker, and allow it to ash over before adding the meat. Fill the water pan if equipped. For horizontal offset smoker, I place an aluminum pan in the smoking chamber near the fire end and keep it filled with water.

Trim the chuck roast of any excess fat and discard.

Combine kosher salt, black pepper and optional cayenne pepper. You will only need 3 tablespoons of the rub. Store the rest in a jar with tight-fitting lid. With clean hands, rub the 3 tablespoons of Texas rub all over the chuck.

Smoke the chuck for about 3 hours with a light but steady wisp of smoke. Leave the cover vent fully open during smoking. After about 2 hours, wrap the chuck in aluminum foil or butcher paper and place back in the smoker. Continue cooking the chuck in the smoker fueled by charcoal only (no more wood chunks needed — it's smoked already) until the meat easily pulls apart and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.

Alternately, after the chuck roast has smoked on the grill for two hours, place the wrapped roast on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven and cook for about 90 minutes, checking for tenderness periodically. When the meat easily pulls apart with two forks, remove from the oven and serve on buns with coleslaw and pickles, if desired. Offer barbecue sauce for those who want it "wet."

Note: To make Texas rub, combine one-third part kosher salt with two-thirds part coarsely ground black pepper.


USA Pans

I recently brought home a new baking pan — my first in years — and it's quite possibly the best on the market. USA Pan is an all-American company, so that will make you feel good about buying it. The pans are made at a factory in Pennsylvania.

But what makes this pan so remarkable is the fact that you don't have to use cooking spray, butter or shortening to keep your baked goods from sticking. In fact, the company recommends you use nothing. The surface of the pans is ribbed for even baking, and the nonstick coating is made of silicone that is free of PTFE and PFOA — chemicals used in most other nonstick cookware that's not so good for you.

The baking pans are affordable and heavy-duty. They come in several sizes, including a quarter sheet, half-sheet and full 9- by 13 inches. USA Pans also makes muffin tins, jelly roll pans and more. If your baking pans are yellowed, dented and scratched, it may be time for new ones. And to me, the fact that they are made in America makes them the best pans you can buy, and no better time to buy them than the week of July Fourth. Check them out at, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Kohl's.

Contact Anne Braly at

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