Help me cut steaks or shish kebabs on the grill for my FIL's birthday
September 15, 2018 11:17 PM   Subscribe

This is our grill, the Spirit II. It's Tuesday, and I work all day, and so does Mr. Llama, but we'd like to make it nice for him. I do not have much experience with grilling.

Option A: Steaks on the grill. Pros: I know how to cook steak. Cons: I don't know this grill very well. I could boil garden potatoes the night before and maybe skewer them to cook them (they are the small red ones), cover them in rosemary and garlic, make a salad, and call it a day. Maybe green beans from the garden.

The part I am worried about is the managing of heat, Mr. LLama likes his well done so I cut his laterally, and cook the hell out of it (his preference) while while everyone's with a sear then moving it over to lower temperature and touching them until they feel right. But that's super ad hoc and I feel like I would like more guidance about minutes and temperature and strategy.

I also have an eggplant. I don't know if that's good for anything, but there you go.

Option B is shish kebobs which I think I make with chuck steak, mushrooms, peppers, cute tomatoes, onions. I have all of these things in the garden. These seem more appealling somehow. Because in the end I would be cooking just the one thing and a pot of rice. When I was a kid I think my dad dumped Worcestershire sauce and Italian salad dressing on the steak to marinade overnight and called it a day. Is this still considered state of the art or just in Rust Belt USA.

Any other ideas? It's a Tuesday, we work all day, he and grandma will have been taking care of our daughter after school.....I would like to make it special, but also not be a nervous wreck because I didn't prepare and feeling insecure but I don't know what I'm doing.

Mr. Llama is a wonderful human being but an indifferent cook and routinely burns spaghetti sauce. No help there.

Also--wine advice???
posted by A Terrible Llama to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
My first thought is that you need to get a meat thermometer. It's going to take the guessing out of your grilling & easily improve the quality of your meats.

As far as kebabs go, they can be trickier than you think. If I'm doing a kebab I separate the meat and veggies because they need need very different cooking. Your vegetables are going to need a long slow cook while the meat will be faster at a higher heat.

In general, my advice is always to go with something you are comfortable with if you are trying to impress. Try new things when the stakes are low.

Good luck!
posted by Burgoo at 4:42 AM on September 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would also be careful of kebabs, they can be tricky if you're doing them for the first time. Skirt steak is an excellent option, for the reasons mentioned above.

In terms of the veggies, my recommendation is to get a grill basket (image linked is the first one I found, not a specific recommendation).

Throw veggies in bowl, coat with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Then toss veggies on grill and toss them occasionally. You can throw a little bit of soy sauce in there sporadically if you choose. That Spirit II has an upper rack, i believe, so you can throw the basket up top if things are not working out time-wise.
posted by jeremias at 6:44 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Piggybacking on the skirt steak idea - if you have a Costco membership they have an excellent chimichurri flank steak premarinated. You can buy a bottle of chimichurri and do it on your own but this would one less step.
posted by brilliantine at 6:51 AM on September 16, 2018

Mr. Llama is skeeved out by flank steak and skirt steak. As character flaws go, that's not something to be worked up about. So it would be strip steaks.

What temp would I do them to, on the grill? Like sear, move to a cooler spot, wait for the temp to reach X? (Metafilter previously convinced me to buy a meat thermometer.) I would go for medium rare for half of them and medium to 'torched' for Mr. Llama.

I agree with no trial recipes while entertaining but the thing I do best is braised short ribs and risotto, and thanks to Metafilter, roast beef--but I don't have a fall back for warmer months.

What I would like--but I don't know if this is okay for an older person's birthday as opposed to cocktail hour, but I do think he'd like it--is like a charcuterie with pickled things and fruit and cheese nice bread and wine and cake for dessert. I just don't know if that's the right move for grandma and grandpa who will say 'we will be happy with anything you do' and I believe them but I still have decide what 'anything' is. Little llama could still have chicken nuggets. Mr. Llama could have the more ordinary cheddar cheese offering, pickles, bread, and fruit.

But I don't know if that's me projecting because now that I'm saying, well, jeez, that's what I want and that's my idea of perfect food.

Any other ideas for desperation weeknight-occasion go-tos? I could also make like a lasagna the night before but that factors in the 'oven on for a long time' issue when it could be uncomfortable in the house--but at least it would be simple and be something I can do in advance.

posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:14 AM on September 16, 2018

Minutes and temperature and strategy for steaks: Sear over high heat for six minutes, flipping and rotating every minute (I use the stopwatch on my phone). By "flip" I mean the side of each steak that was on the bottom should end up on top; by "rotate" I mean both that every steak should move one position around the circle (clockwise or counter-clockwise, take your pick, but be consistent) and that you should also rotate each steak relative to the grill grates every time you flip them. Flipping the steaks over frequently helps them cook evenly; rotating them around the grill helps minimize the effect of hot spots; rotating them relative to the grates gets you more even (and delicious) browning on the surface.

Once you've hit the six minute mark, move all your non-well-done steaks to indirect heat, and cook them for an additional 2-6 minutes or so, until they reach the target internal temperature you're measuring with your thermometer. Depending on how directional your indirect heat is, you may still want to rotate the steaks a couple times so you don't have a gradient of doneness from coolest to warmest. For your well done steak, just keep flipping it over high heat until it hits the desired visual doneness. For all steaks, rest them five minutes before serving.

Since you have a gas grill you can do this on a weeknight without too much stress.

As everybody else has said, if you want to do kebabs instead of steaks, skewer your meat and vegetables separately, cook the meat as per the instructions above, and manage your vegetables as best for them. I occasionally like to grill onions by cutting them into ½" thick discs that sit flat on the grill, best low and slow (perhaps 20-30 minutes). If you can get away with it, flip them just once to reduce the risk they fall apart (and use vegetable grates if you have them). Mushrooms should be cooked over low heat and rotated frequently. They won't really char because of the high moisture content, so you're just cooking them to visual doneness. For summer squash (and possibly eggplant) you could do thick planks, seared at high heat until the surfaces are brown (2-3 minutes per side), and then move them to indirect heat until they just begin to turn soft (maybe 4 minutes?). For cherry tomatoes I'd probably try medium heat, rotating semi frequently, again going to visual doneness (maybe ten minutes total?). For bell peppers I like to do just the high heat sear until they're charred and blistered (also my personal preference is that only green bell peppers are worth grilling; yellow or orange sweet bell peppers just get flabby, but roasting a green bell pepper cuts its bitterness, deepens its flavor, and increases its apparent sweetness). If your grill is hot enough you can char the peppers in the five minutes the steaks are resting.
posted by fedward at 11:05 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh also: don't marinate your meat too long. That's probably the one thing that's really changed since the 70s. If you're marinating for kebabs, aim for about 30 minutes.
posted by fedward at 11:11 AM on September 16, 2018

« Older Automate my life   |   How to be a good art jury? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.