Barbecue Basics: Summer Grilling Tips from Executive Chef Russell Kook [Recipe: Chipotle Steak Sliders]

BY MARIS CALLAHAN

Summer is in full swing, which means outdoor festivals, refreshing cocktails and plenty of weekend cookouts. We are in the thick of grilling season and as it happens, July is National Grilling Month.

One of the most popular items to cook on the barbecue is a good, old fashioned hamburger, which you can dress up or down with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, avocado – you name it. In addition to being easily customizable to your tastes, hamburgers are simple, which undoubtably lends to their popularity. Though you can grill just about anything you crave, meat, poultry, fish and vegetables are popular choices.

To guarantee that your next cookout is a success, Russell Kook, Executive Chef at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, offers some tips to guarantee a successful grilling experience for National Grilling Month —  and throughout the rest of the summer cookout season.

Preheat your grill. Make sure your grill is as hot as possible, at least 500 degrees. While cooking meats, this will accomplish a nice seared outside and a warm, juicy center.

Season generously. It’s important to liberally season all grilled items with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. This helps with flavor and creating a delicious crust.

Think room temperature. Make sure my meats are at room temperature before you put them on the grill. An essential part of creating the perfect steak is to limit the amount of time it actually spends on the grill. By bringing it to room temperature, it saves some grill time.

Let it rest! Although it is tough to be patient, it is imperative to let steaks rest for three minutes before cutting into them. This allows the juices to set so it won’t bleed out right away once cut open.

If you want to heat up the kitchen with a slightly new twist on your simple steak dinner, we’ve got you covered.

Chipotle Steak Sliders
Yield: 6 sliders

Ingredients:

6 Ciabatta buns
about 1 lb. of steak
1 onion (I use sweet vidalia)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 T. chipotles in adobo sauce*
Salt
Butter

Note: You can either put the chipotles with some of their sauce into a blender to create a nice chipotle paste, you can simply spoon out some of the adobe sauce that surrounds the canned peppers, or you can hand-dice the chipotles and use the diced peppers.

Instructions:

Combine mayonnaise, chipotle sauce and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Season to taste, adding more chipotle if you desire a spicier mayo. Season or marinate the steak to your preference. (Or buy pre-marinated steak, Trader Joes has some nice options.). Grill or pan-fry it to desired done-ness. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

While steak is cooking, slice the onion and heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add a pat of butter to the pan, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes until onions are a nice caramel color.

Toast the ciabatta buns. To assemble each sandwich, spread chipotle mayo on buns, add a couple slices of steak, followed by the caramelized onions.

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