“If summer had one defining scent, it’d definitely be the smell of barbecue.”
There’s no time like a pandemic to learn how to master your grill. While most Americans huddle around outdoor grills as a form of camaraderie, celebration or communion, socially distant BBQ gatherings may become the future. Here, five local chefs share their grilling secrets and favorite recipes on the barbecue.
Carbon Beach Club Restaurant
For a successful grilling season, Executive Chef Ryan Caldwell from Malibu’s oceanfront Carbon Beach Club Restaurant at the Malibu Beach Inn, shares two important tips:
- Know your grill. It has hot spots and cold spots, and it's important to know where they are. The cooler spots are good for "cooking" whatever you’re grilling and getting to the proper temperature inside, and the hot spots are great for putting that nice finishing grilled char on your item.
- Like any machine, the grill must be well-oiled! Take a spare kitchen towel, fold it into a "roll," tie it in place with butcher’s twine, and then saturate it with olive oil. Chef Ryan uses this and tongs to wipe the surface of the grill before each use to "season" the grill, prevent sticking and keep it clean.
Here, he shares Carbon Beach Club’s grilled Haas avocado dish served with tangy Tunisian BBQ sauce garnished with toasted pistachios, pink peppercorn, currants, cilantro and chili oil.
“It's a very fun dish with the smokiness and char we get from the grilled avocado and the sweet and salty play that we get with the Tunisian BBQ sauce,” Chef Ryan says.
Grilled Avocado, Tunisian Puree, Pistachio
Tunisian BBQ Sauce
1 cup green olives (drained)
1 cup Peppadew peppers (drained)
1 T chopped garlic
1 t salt
1 t espelette
2 oz dried currants
Blend all ingredients in a Vitamix until completely smooth; adjust seasoning to taste.
Pistachio & Pink Peppercorn Mix
1 cup toasted, chopped pistachio
1 oz crushed pink peppercorn
1 oz currants
1 t salt
1 T olive oil
Toss all ingredients in a bowl.
At Malibu’s Nicolas Eatery across from Carbon Beach, Chef Nicolas Fanucci also suggests cleaning the grill before grilling and making sure to let meat, fish or vegetables sit at room temperature for a few minutes before cooking.
filet(s) fresh tuna
1 cup soy sauce
1 t black pepper
1 t olive oil
Marinate the fish in soy sauce with black pepper to give it a rich flavor. Cook on a hot grill with oil for 2 minutes on each side. Serve like a tuna burger or on a plate with rice or tortellini.
Chef Saverio Posarelli of Italian restaurant Basta in Agoura Hills uses three types of wood—mesquite, almond and olive—because each one opens up different aromas and keeps the embers hot and perfect without a flame.
“You never want to grill on a direct flame, as you lose the juice and flavor,” says Chef Saverio.
Branzino, Italian Sea Bass
fresh sea bass
Maldon sea salt
fresh chopped herbs: rosemary, lemon thyme, bay leaf, orange and lemon zest, fennel pollen, anise
Debone and clean the fish; fill with spinach, lemon and finely chopped fennel, then sprinkle the salt mixture on the outside of the fish. Sear each side until ready.
As the Executive Chef for Mastro’s Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks, Chef Adrian Giese enjoys grilling skirt steak prepared with a marinade of fresh herbs and garlic cloves and Korean-style flanked short ribs marinated in a sweet, sugary soy glaze.
Chef Adrian’s tips for grilling success include setting your meat out a few hours before grilling in order to bring it down to room temperature.
“This process is called blooming, and it is an important aspect of the grilling experience, because it ensures your meat is not shocked when it hits the grill. Before getting started, always make sure your grill is nice and hot. If using coals, allow them to get a nice glow and spread them out evenly. Once the grill is hot, clean it with a grill brush and then wipe down the grates of your grill with some oil to keep your meat from sticking. Last but not least, stick by your grill when you have meat on it. Flare ups can cause unwanted char,” Chef Adrian says.
Garlic-Herb Marinated Skirt Steak
2 lb skirt steak, excess fat trimmed
1/4 cup fresh finely chopped rosemary
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano finely chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T kosher salt
2 t coarsely ground black pepper
1 t paprika
3-4 large cloves of garlic finely minced
Combine the herbs and spices in a bowl. Place steak on a sheet pan and rub each piece with the marinade, top and bottom. Put the marinated meat in an airtight container overnight. Pull the meat out 2 hours before grilling. Serve with a garden salad.
Korean-Style Flanked Short Ribs
3 lb flanked style bone-in short ribs, cut about 1/2" thick
3/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 bunch scallions chopped into 1" segments
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup grated ginger
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 ea Asian pear finely grated (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place layer of ribs in a rectangular pan with high sides. Spoon over marinade to cover all the meat with some liquid. Repeat this process with all the meat. Pour over any residual marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight. Pull out a couple hours before grilling. Serve with steamed white sticky rice.
BBQ catering company Smokin’ Bar-B-Quties (https://smokinbarbquties.com), based in Malibu for the past three years, specializes in high volume parties, events and fundraisers. They won first and second place at previous Chili Cook-Offs and their Vegetarian BBQ Chili can be found at Vintage Grocers in the prepared food section.
Owner and Executive Chef Sonja Randall divulged that requests for grilled veggies are almost as plentiful as for meat.
“Portobellos on the grill are THE best!” says Chef Sonja. “They are the meatiest, meatless, oh so satisfying, yummy in your mouth people pleasers! I often serve these as the main course, accompanied by grilled asparagus, summer squash, baby bellas and rainbow carrots.”
When it comes to grilling, “temperature is everything,” says Chef Sonja. “Start with a smokin’ hot grill—we allow our meat to sizzle for a minute then we raise the grill and let it cook. Also, we take it off a few degrees before it reaches our desired temperature, and then we let it rest for a bit.”
Using different woods, such as red oak, almond, olive, apple and pecan, creates a “tantalizing taste experience!” she adds.
Grilled Salmon with Lime & Blueberry BBQ Sauce
6 oz skinless salmon filet
brush of oil (grapeseed is the chef’s go-to)
generous squeeze of lime (or 2)
pinch of salt & pepper
Marinate for about 30 min. Place on a smokin’ hot grill for about 3-4 min per side.
Drizzle a little Blueberry BBQ sauce and top with lime zest. Serve with a fresh chopped green salad with sliced strawberries and balsamic and gorgonzola crumbles.