Saturday, June 14, 2014

Grilling 101: "Mastering the Pitt" #GrillChat With a Pitmaster

Outside of raiding restaurants, one of my personal favorite hobbies is experimenting with different methods of grilling varieties of beef, pork and chicken. I learned through trial and a lot of big fat errors. I sat down for a one on one chat with Birmingham native & local grilling specialist,
 Mr. Washington Day, to get some tips for all of the readers out there that wish to master the art of grilling.
Washington Day, Jr.

Q: What's your age & how long have you been a master of the grill?

A: I am 57. I've been cooking for just under 30 years. I've cooked in the USA and abroad. I cooked in the US Army, Costa's BBQ, Jim N' Nick's, Steak and Ale, Olive Garden, Quincy's & freelance catering. I have won a couple of awards and have experience as a competition judge.
*note some of these restaurants have come and gone*

Q: How old were you when you were introduced to the technique of cooking on a charcoal grill?

A: 7 years old ... My Dad Wash Sr. allowed me to watch him every time he grilled for our family of 9. Including 7 children. Through the years, I learned to love it.

Q:Was your first time a success or did you ever have to go back to the drawing board?
A: No. My first time was NOT a success. However, I was determined to be just as good on the grill as my dad. I loved it so much, I eventually got a job doing it every day; perfecting it gradually along the way. I still strive for perfection still to this day.

Q:What is the one thing that can ruin a barbecue?
A: "To over season the product. Also to have a fire that is too hot can cook the product too fast."

For all of you grilling rookies out there, Washington provides 7 "basic" key steps for people grilling for the first time or with minimal experience.

Tip# 1. "Chose only extremely fresh cuts of meat. Not too much fat. As far as ribs go, I like the large, classic spare ribs myself.  Be sure there are no signs of brown in the meats that you purchase. Pick for the meats that are red in color. Always check the date. Also make sure that your grill or any surface that your meat will touch is cleaned and sterilized."

Tip#2. "Properly clean / cleanse the meat. When it comes to ribs, you want to trim the top of the ribs.
 Meaning cut across the top of the bones to give the ribs a straight, even, "St. Louis Style" look. Cleanse the meat in a cleaning solution consisting of water, vinegar and salt. Then rinse until the water is clear."

Tip#3. "Season your product. I use Liquid Smoke, Dale's & worcestershire sauce first. then any granulated seasoning second. Do this the day before your barbecue to allow the seasoning to infuse well for a good flavor. I also prefer garlic powder or granulated garlic. "

Tip#4. "Don't use cheap, off brand charcoal. My #1 choice of charcoal is Kingsford."

Tip#5. "To get a good fire, I use an electric starter. Pile the coals into the shape of a pyramid, start the fire, let the coals burn until they are all gray. Spread the coals out evenly. Open the vents on the grill. If you are using wood chips, spread pre-soaked, damp wood chips across the top of the coals. Be sure that there are no flames. If the fire begins to die down, open the top of the grill and all vents stir the coals with a long object."

Tip# 6. "Place meat on the grill. If cooking ribs, place the bone side face down. Sear all cuts of meat on both sides in order to maintain moisture inside. Use sturdy utensils. Nothing worse that having food fall onto the ground."

Tip#7. " Smother the fire or rather cutting off the oxygen to the fire will extinguish flare up's. You want to watch out for this so that you don't burn the meat. Keep a spray bottle filled with water close by and also a water supply for safety reasons. "

*Legal Stuff: Grilling safety is also the largest factor. Do not operate a grill with an open flame within 10 feet of a building or structure. Children should not play near an operating grill and definitely not unsupervised. Meat should be cooked to your desired preference, but note that there is a consumer advisory against eating undercooked meats.

If you have any questions or would like more tips, feel free to send your questions to Washington c/o The Bham Restaurant Raider to or you can tweet your questions #Grilling to @RestaurantRaidr

The products mentioned above can all be found locally in most Birmingham grocery stores & big box hardware stores.
Have a great summer! See pics below.

Always examine raw meat for color and fat content.

Always check the "sell by" date

A nice spacious grill is essential for large quantities

This is the electric starter that he can't live without.

"Kingsford Charcoal is my personal choice"

Remember to pre-soak your wood chips if you choose to use them

No comments: