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Grill Marks

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Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 12:51 am
hotchef well done
well done

Posts: 319
Location: Florence, AL
I never thought I would be a man much for show, but the bug has bitten me tonight. I had never been able to get grill marks of any quality before tonight. I smoke roasted some potatoes and garlic about an hour prior to grilling (yum!). When they were done, I poured the coals out from the holders and put a fresh set from my chimney starter on top. Let that set for about 5 minutes and then put the chicken on the grate. Wow! I had a really hot fire, but not hotter than any other time, but I got some professional grade grill marks. I guess it was because the grate had already been heated up from cooking the potatoes.

My question is how do y'all get grill marks when you're just grilling on a fresh grill? It seems that if I let the coals sit long enough to heat the grate up to an acceptable temp. for grill marks, I have lost the heat necessary to cook my food properly. Any tips?

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 1:41 am
YardBurner BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 5469
Location: Damascus, Maryland
The photos in most cookbooks and food magazines are prepared by food stylists. They us many tricks to make things look perfect. Mashed potatoes stand in for ice cream, blow torches are used to brown things. Varnish and pigmented shellac are used to simulate the browning caused by heat and smoke. Raw turkeys are painted with stains, sliced, then a fabric steamer is used to make the exposed meat look "cooked".

The grill marks seen, if faked, are applied with an electric charcoal starter used like a branding iron to sear parallel or crossing lines onto the surface of the food.

Perfect grill marks aren't as important as properly seasoned and cooked food. Inedible food can have perfect grill marks.

The most reliable technique I have to cook a strip steak uses a cast iron skillet. No grill marks there.

The thin chrome grates that come with most grills will leave nice grill marks when you first place the food on the grill. The cross hatch of grill marks won't happen unless you move it to an area that you haven't used when it its rotated. The heat of the fuel source is not what directly causes the marks. The surfaces ability to absorb, conduct and retain heat make the difference. Most grills come with thin chrome plated grates which will , when heated enough, create an acceptable FIRST grill mark. If you rotate the item in the same place most of the heat has been absorbed by the food and the second set of marks may not even be visible.

Heavy stainless, while slow to absorb heat evenly is also slow to release it seems to work well. Cast iron, although durable, will rust easily if not cared for properly, will provide the most intense marks.

Heavy cast iron, (porcelain coated or not, ot a heavy stained steel will absorb it's heat slowly. hold it for a longer time and release more quickly.

While looks are pleasant. Taste is what's important.


Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 2:48 am
Vinsect well done
well done

Posts: 576
Location: Middle Tennessee
YB speaks the truth. With practice you'll get the showmanship part down. You'll be a hibachi chef in no time, juggling knives, doing the rice-bomb, and flipping shotglasses of sake' with your spatula without spilling a drop.
But as we practice we get the taste part down too.
If it aint broke, Break it!
Then rebuild it better.

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 1:51 pm
ThrRoff well done
well done

Posts: 999
Location: Washington, DC

Hot Chef,

It sounds like you have realized the trick behind grill marks. One must have a really hot grill before you put the meat or veggies on to grill. The other trick is don’t mess with them for several minutes. If you don’t touch things they should sear up nicely and not stick. (My famous last words.) All said, I find it hard to consistently get pleasant grill marks, but no one eating the food seems to mind.

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 2:08 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3209
Location: Atlanta-GA
In addition to all the good info listed above, I have a little trick that I do when I went picture perfect steaks. I get one of those cast iron stove top grills; heat it up on the grill (while the rest of the grill is heating up). I place the steak on the grill grate (I use cast iron grates), and then I top the steak with the heated cast iron grill (some times I weigh it down with 2 bricks). This serves many purposes; it sears the steak on both sides spontaneously, it cooks the steak more evenly, and it gives the steak real nice grill marks on both sides. It’s kind of like George Foreman’s grill, but it’s the real thing. Like everyone said, marks contribute nothing to the flavor, it’s just for show.
Here is a link to the grill I referred to: ... 10494b.jpg

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 2:34 pm
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I bought a branding iron and heat it up to an insane temp and always get a nice mark of my intials on steaks and what not.... find its easier than a cross hatch of grills marks and its an extra step to showmanship that few think of doing.

Go Big or Go Home

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 4:24 pm
hotchef well done
well done

Posts: 319
Location: Florence, AL
Yardburner, what method do you have for cooking NY strips? I have a few cast iron skillets and I am always looking for something new to try.

Post Sun Apr 25, 2004 10:25 pm
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

Here's a cast iron method for your regular stove that I've had good results with. Granted, I still like them grilled but on those days when the weather isn't cooperating, this works quite well.

Pull the steaks out of the fridge and brush with a little olive oil. Season with a rub or seasoning or just leave them plain. Let them sit on the counter to come to room temp.

Put the skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Leave it for at least half an hour (including pre-heat time).

Once the skillet is hot and the steaks are at room temp, pull the skillet and put it on a burner on the stove cranked up to high heat. Sear the steaks on the first side for 30 seconds. Do not move the steak once it hits the pan or it will stick. Turn it over and sear the other side for 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from the burner and put it back in the oven. Leave it there for 3 minutes then flip the steaks and cook for another 3 minutes on the other side. This will turn out a medium to medium rare steak. Leave it longer if you want it more well done.

Take the steaks out and let them sit on the plate for 5 minutes before serving

I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

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