Memorial Day Weekend is here, and this summer you’ve decided it’s time to elevate your grill game. It's easier than you think. All you need is charcoal grill, hardwood coals, a few basic spices—and a hair dryer.
In Charred & Scruffed (Artisan) Adam Perry Lang, owner of Daisy May’s BBQ in NYC and all-around barbecue and grill expert, ditches the time-honored notion of “put your meat on the grill and leave it alone.” Don’t think you’ll be hanging back with a beer talking with your friends while your meat sizzles; instead, you’ll be working the grill like boxer Manny Pacquiao works the ring.
Lang calls his technique clinching, and it's based on a boxing tactic that allows a fighter to get in close to an opponent to cut off the stinging effect of a long arm range. What's this mean for steak? Putting it directly on the coals. Sounds crazy, but it works.
Basically, you rub the meat with a blend of salt, black pepper, garlic salt, and cayenne, and then drop it right on the coals. Don't forget to remove the ash first. Thus comes the blow dryer. For those not wanting to unwind a utility cord or bring out your bathroom hair dryer, he suggests simply fanning the coals with a piece of cardboard.
A 10 oz., room-temp steak sits on the flame for 2 minutes each side. Lang serves the steak with fried onion rings and a Tomato Spackle (a tapenade with tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, garlic, and vinegar).
For seafood, Lang directs you to “clinch” and “plank” a lobster tail—that is, placing the fish on a pre-soaked wood plank, then putting the entire board (cedar, in this case) directly on the coals. The whole thing gets covered, and the steam, smoky from the wood, permeates the food.
Rounding out his book, Lang suggests such appetizers as polenta with mascarpone and rosemary, and a creamed spinach with a confit of smoked garlic.
For those preparing a more low-key, traditional preparation, take a look at The Gardener & The Grill (Running Press) by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. The authors offer simpler, though no less flavorful, dishes such as grilled pork tenderloins with skewers of fresh figs, or grilled salmon in corn husks.
For sides, choose from charred green beans with a lemon verbena pesto, or brussel sprouts with feta garlic butter.
No need to lace up the gloves here. Put the meat on the grill, sit back, and enjoy a glass of chilled vinho verde.