The FADER’s Guide to Grilling

Pro tips and recipes from DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia, Patrick Quinn of Rockaway Beach’s The Cookout and Pure X bassist, Jesse Jenkins.

May 22, 2014

This weekend's Memorial Day holiday is not just a three day vacation, it means summer is finally—finally—here. While for some it signals the return to local surf haunts or the perfect time to crack open that bottle of chilled rose, for flame-loving fanatics it marks open season for grilling. To get in the BBQ zone, we spoke with three grilling masters: DJ Paul, a member of Three 6 Mafia and an award-winning BBQ sauce maker; Patrick Quinn, chef of Rockaway Beach's The Cookout food truck; and Jesse Jenkins, nature grilling enthusiast of Austin band Pure X. Learn how to grill a chicken on a can of beer, how not to embarrass yourself when running the grill and how to coast the open flames to char-grilled nirvana. Grab a pen, get your grocery list together and check out The FADER's Guide to Grilling.

DJ Paul
Marinade god, rapper, Academy Award winner

Get marinating
The first step to a good BBQ is a good marinade process. There’s two kinds of marinades, a liquid marinade, obviously, and there's seasoning marinade, called a dry rub. Marinate your meat, put it in a zip lock bag and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more. You can do it longer—up to 2 or 3 days—depending on what kind of meat you’re grilling. With fish and seafood, however, you are not really suppose to marinate them for more than 30 minutes.

Treat your meat right
After your marinade settles in, take your meat out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature. People always put the meat straight on the grill but you can’t go from hot to cold that fast. Let it sit on the counter for maybe 30 minutes or whatever.

Avoid flare-ups
I don’t like to use spray oils because they cake up the inside of your grill. When your grill starts getting caked up on the inside, from drippings of marinades or meat juices, that’s when it can start to cause the flame to flare up. I recommend heating your grill, not super hot, for maybe about 5 minutes, then take some olive oil, or vegetable oil, put it in a rag and rub down the hot grill with that.

A word on seafood
For grilling seafood, I would say get cedar wood planks. They infuse your seafood with different types of flavors and and you don’t have to worry about turning it or falling apart. Take the wood and soak it for 30 minutes before you grill, then sit them on the grill for 10 minutes until it starts to smoke. I recommend grilling salmon, since it has all those omega 3s, but I also like tilapia, seabass, swordfish—basically any fish that comes in a steak form.

Don't sauce too early
A common mistake that people make is putting BBQ sauce on too early in the grilling process. BBQ sauce has a lot of sugar in it and that’s what causes flare-ups the most. I like to add sauce during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, basically just long enough to warm it up and get the smoke flavor. It’s embarrassing to have to go inside and tell everybody that you burnt all 40 of the hot wings because you put BBQ sauce on too early.

Be good to your grill
Always clean your grill off when it’s hot. As soon as you take your meat off, cut the grill off, take your brush, and scrub it down, right there. No matter how hungry you are. I’m telling you, it's going to save you in the long run.

Grilled Crab Legs
1 Bottle of Award Winning DJ Paul's BBQ Rub 1 lb of your favorite Crab Legs
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter

1. Preheat your grill to medium (If grill is not available pre-heat oven to 350 degrees)
2. Combine the two tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of melted butter and coat each leg well.
3. Sprinkle Award Winner DJ Paul's BBQ Rub on each leg, well enough to cover both sides.
3. Place the crab legs on the grill and drop the lid. (If baking, place crab legs on a baking sheet)
4. Heat them for 4 or 5 minutes, turning once after about 2 minutes. (if baking, bake for 8-9 minutes)
6. Remove the hot legs from the grill/oven and serve with cocktail sauce or a garlic butter sauce.

DJ Paul's fun tip: Sprinkle Ole Bay seasoning into garlic butter for dipping sauce.

Patrick Quinn
Chef of The Cookout BBQ Truck

Keep your sides light
There are a lot of common sides that you always see at BBQs: the baked beans, collard greens. I love that stuff, but I like to keep the sides lighter and fresher. If you’re going to serve this big pile of meat, have some really healthy vegetable proteins that aren’t usually at a BBQ like quinoa and kale. For grilled veggies, I suggest corn on the cob, Mexican-style, and zucchini cut lengthwise into long strips. I also like do a grilled watermelon, which has been really cool—it goes over really well with the health-conscious folks.

Pick a choice cut
If you’re looking for a good cut of meat, that’s a bit more special and expensive, I love the dry-aged meat. It won’t require much seasoning or sauce, just straight salt and pepper. You want to taste the meat, you know what I mean? If you’re looking for a cut of steak that’s more budget-friendly, go with the flank or skirt steak. Flank steak, which is pretty thin, grills quick. Season it Mexican-style, with a lot of paprika and a lot of cumin seeds.

Pour some out for the grill
Whenever I’m grilling and the flame gets too high, I just pour a little bit of beer on it. That will drop the flame—and, besides, everything on the grill tastes better with beer there.

Don’t be afraid to wing it, literally
At BBQs, everybody always thinks of fried chicken wings, but I like grilling chicken wings because they’re low maintenance. They basically hang out on the perimeter of the grill, where the flames are lower, while the steaks are grilling in the middle.

Grilling on the go
If you’re grilling in a small space or at the beach, Hibachi grills are definitely the way to go. They're easy to carry, not a big mess, and there's not a lot to clean up, but you still get that charcoal smoke flavor. I’ve actually worked at restaurants where we had a big gas grill, but for some menu items we used a little hibachi on top of it, right under the hood vent.

Let people help themselves
At a cookout, part of the whole fun is doing it yourself. Don’t worry too much about serving guests, just set your grill and fix-ins station up and let people hook themselves up.

Grilled Watermelon with Mint Pesto Recipe
1 ripe watermelon

1. Cut watermelon into 3/4" wedges
2. Place on hot/clean grill for 1min on 1 side only (just long enough to get nice grill marks and flavor)
3. Remove and refridgerate until cold

Mint Pesto
-1 bunch picked fresh mint leaves
-1.5 tbsp local raw honey
- A Brooklyn pinch of sea salt (generous)
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Add all ingredients into blender.
2. Pulse just until mint is blended.
3. Keep cold until served.
Note: Over blending or not refrigerating right away will cause pesto to turn brown.

For Grilled Mojito Melon, soak watermelon in small amount of rum or saki for a couple hours before grilling (don't use 151).

Jesse Jenkins
Pure X bassist & natural grill fan

Fuck propane
It’s just not for me. I only grill with mesquite charcoal or hard wood on my smoker at home.

Know your fire
Take your time with the fire, you definitely want to get it right before you throw meat on there. Especially for a steak, you want a really hot fire so you can get a good sear on the outside.

Salt of the earth
A good key for grilling is to use really coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt. It will cook better than a fine table salt and can add flavor to your meat.

Respect the herb
If I’m using more than just salt and pepper to season, I like to pick fresh herbs from my garden. Right now, I’m using a lot of sage and rosemary, which are very aromatic.

Grill in nature
Some people like to use portable grills, but really all you need is a metal grate. Dig a hole in the ground, toss some wood in there and make a fire. Place the grill over it and there you go. This is great for camping and hiking trips.

Cooking for a crowd
If you’re grilling for a large group, I’d suggest making fajitas. You can just throw on a shitload of meat and veggies, chop it up and let everyone dig in. No worrying about.

If all else fails, stick a can of beer in it
If you’ve got all afternoon, beer can chicken is a great way to grill a whole bird. Use those basic herbs, rub some butter on the bird, take a couple of swigs of your tall boy, then stick the chicken on it. This recipe takes a couple of hours, so I like to just put this on the grill and leave it.

Beer Can Chicken
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer

1. Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.

2. Open beer can and take several gulps (make them big gulps so that the can is half full). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.

3. Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife.

4. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Adapted from The Food Network.

The FADER’s Guide to Grilling