5 MICHELIN Guide Chefs on Summer Barbecue and Their Top Grilling Tips
Summer is all about maximizing time outside and enjoying more moments with friends and family. The perfect recipe? Fire up the grill, fill the cooler with your favorite wine and tipples, and host a backyard barbecue.
However, grilled fare goes beyond the burger and hot dog (though we're partial to those too)—and these MICHELIN Guide chefs prove that whole fish, short rib, and quail make impressive options to the standard grub. Below, learn the 101s of summer grilling and be prepared for some mouthwatering inspo from our chefs on how to serve it like a star.
Chef Curtis Stone, of One MICHELIN Star Maude and Gwen in Los Angeles, and soon-to-open Woodend at Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, Rivera Maya (August 3) keeps it simple with grilled steak. “It all really starts with a great cut of meat and for me that means a dry-aged, bone-in ribeye. The beautiful marbling of fat in wagyu is the way to go if you want to go big,” says Stone who adds that at Gwen they import the wagyu from Blackmore Farms in Alexandra, just north of his hometown of Melbourne.
Dry it off. Big flavor comes with a good sear and since moisture is the enemy to a good sear, pat that beef dry and salt just before cooking. By doing so, the salt will add flavor but not have a chance to draw out moisture. Also, invest in an instant thermometer to know exactly when your beef is done. I shoot for 130°F for the perfect medium rare. When the steak is removed from the grill, juices will redistribute so let it rest for half the cooking time. Slice against the grain to keep the steak tender.
Accompaniment: I love to crack a beer over the barbie, but a steak calls for a proper Cabernet.
Summer is wild fishing season, reminds chef Jarad Gallagher of Broma restaurant at Shashi Hotel in Mountain View, CA—so this results in the best product. He says his favorites are trout, salmon, and sole. “I can't think of a better item to serve on a wooden patio table for everyone to share than a whole live-fire roasted fish with its intoxicating aroma. It makes for a stunning presentation stuffed with herbs and served with grilled lemon.”
The trick is to burn enough live wood that you have a bed of coals that is at a consistent temperature of around 320 degrees F and using small amounts of fruit wood chips for flavoring. The key is to cook with the temperature of the coals but flavor with the fresh wood chips.
Accompaniment: Grilled asparagus with quality olive oil and shaved pecorino. Home grown tomato panzanella salad. Nothing is more refreshing for a patio grill than an ice-cold beer and my favorite with grilled fish is Hitachino Nest Red Rice Ale.
Wolfe Ranch Quail
Quail might be associated with white table cloths and fine dining but Chef Robert Curry at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, CA convinces otherwise: “It's delicious and fairly light, providing a great summer dish,” he says.
I recommend removing the wishbone and shoulder bones, back bone and wing tips, but leave the remaining bones. Marinate it overnight with sliced garlic, thyme and extra virgin olive oil, then before grilling remove the garlic and thyme. Grill each skin side down. Once cooked, remove the remaining bones before serving.
Accompaniment: I love a crisp French rosé or Pinot Noir. I prefer to serve grilled quail with a little gem lettuce, with roasted garlic croutons, and bacon vinaigrette.
Galbi (Korean short rib)
Chef David Shim, executive chef at COTE Korean Steakhouse shares that Galbi, a Korean-style marinated short rib, is both sweet and savory with burnt ends that are reminiscent of American BBQ. “It’s such a nostalgic recipe for me and the smell itself brings me back to my childhood,” he shares.
The best way to master the dish is by working on your knife skills. Galbi is served using a special knife technique, which we call diamond cut at COTE, so once you master that, the rest of the recipe comes easy. For an even more grill-friendly experience, Galbi can be served on a skewer with any farmer’s market favorites or tteok-bokki (Korean rice cakes).
Accompaniment: Seasonal pickled vegetables (also known as Ban-Chan). The acidic flavor packs a strong punch and adds a welcomed crunch to the dish. For drinks, I love a chilled rosé – specifically a Txakoli – as it’s easy to drink and super refreshing. That said, if I have the luxury to have a cocktail, I’m choosing a proper negroni.
“I've always been more of a seafood lover than anything else,” says Paul Chung, culinary director at Saison in San Francisco. “Turbot is extremely juicy and flavorful. The naturally occurring high gelatin levels provide moisture like land protein while eating lighter and sweeter than land protein.”
Prior to grilling the turbot, make five scores on the skin without puncturing the flesh. Make the scores perpendicular to the spine – three on one side and two on the other. Flip the fish over and repeat. Generously season the skin on both sides. Place the fish under a fan for four hours before cooking to allow the skin to evaporate all its residual moisture and become extremely crisp during the cooking process. Do not grill the fish directly on your grill. Place the fish between two wire mesh Japanese yakitori grill grates and use the grates to move or flip the fish as needed. This will allow you to crisp the skin evenly and greatly reduce your chance of ripping the skin.
Accompaniment: Any shellfish such as clams, mussels, or prawns and if you're making a sauce or broth with the shellfish, that can also double up as a sauce for the turbot. A slice of grilled sourdough bread would be great to soak up any residual juices and sauce, while adding a distinct sour note. Lastly, a salad of grilled vegetables: I generally like a mixture of different peppers like jimmy nardellos or Shishitos mixed with grilled mushrooms and sun gold tomatoes. Finish it with good olive oil and red wine vinegar and fresh herbs. To complement this, I like richer dry whites from burgundy or new world chardonnay.