Chef Brad Holmes of Ulla has earned his restaurant national renown for the fabulous flavour of his cuisine. Recreate some of his mastery at home by combining humanely raised local meats, a charcoal grill and Holmes’ expert techniques.
Here are five steps we follow at ulla that you can do on your barbecue at home to help develop the flavour of meats, fish, vegetables and fruit on the charcoal grill. Use one of your favourite recipes or try my own basting recipe (on the opposite page).
Seasoning, dry rub or brine: We brine large pieces of meat still on the bone and dry-rub our smaller portions of meat.
Temper: Temper your meats before grilling by ensuring your product is brought to room temperature first. This will aid in more even cooking, reduce time on the grill and help keep things juicy.
Sear or slow cook: Set your grill to the desired temperature while the meats are tempering. Slow and low (175°F to 325°F ) for large meats and fast and hot (425°F to 800°F ) for quick-cooking tender portions.
Baste, baste, baste: We baste all of our grilled meats with a combination of fat, salt, sugar, onion, garlic and an acidic ingredient such as vinegar, citrus juice or verjus (the juice of unripened grapes). To add more flavour, we usually make a brush out of the herbs we are using in the dish. To make a herb brush, tie any combination of herbs to the handle part of a wooden spoon with butcher twine and place in a warm basting mixture to allow the flavours to marry.
Rest: Use a handheld thermometer to check that your meat has reached the desired temperature. Then remove it from the grill to rest in a warm area (140°F or higher) to allow the juice to move back into the meat instead of leaking out moisture and flavour.
Typically, you should rest meats for about eight minutes per 500 grams, but do note that some meats, including lamb and duck, require longer resting.
If you find resting your meats cools them down too much, you may want to place the meat back on the hot grill for 15 to 30 seconds to increase surface temperature. Be careful not to leave it too long or you’ll start to push out juices again.
Ready, Set, Grill
Cooking with fire and coals may have grown out of necessity, but for many, like myself, it has become a passion. Discover the wonderful flavours you can get out of your grill — you’ll soon have your own favourite bastes, cuts of meat and secret tricks to getting that grill fired up.
By Brad Holmes