A Time To Grill

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It’s summer —  time to fire up the grill and invite your friends and neighbors to an alfresco treat. First, you must perfect your grill skills.

If you have enjoyed a perfectly grilled steak or seafood dish at Morton’s, The Steakhouse, and wondered how you could achieve the same succulent flavor and tenderness at home, you are in luck. Chef Joe Salgado offers some tips on grilling the perfect steak à la Morton’s.

First, check your equipment. Natural gas grills are ready at the push of a button and use a line from your home so you never run out of coal or propane. Infrared grills heat quickly, much like the grill at Morton’s. The popular propane grills are fine, too. If you plan to buy a grill, choose one with side burners, which can boil water, fry mushrooms, or create sauces as you grill so that you need not leave your steaks unattended.

Here are the chef’s four steps to perfect steak:

1 Buy prime aged beef.
If this is not available, look for choice cuts with abundant marbling and a bright red color. Buy steaks that are at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. These take about 10 to 12 minutes on a traditional gas grill or four to five minutes on an infrared grill. When grilling fish, select a strong-flavored one, such as mackerel or salmon — either makes a fine match for the smoky grill flavor.

2 Heat the grill to at least 500 degrees
before putting on the steaks.

3 Allow the meat to cook
for several minutes on one side, turn once, and
finish cooking. This seals in juices and
prevents dry, tough steak.

4 Use tongs or a spatula to turn steak,
never a fork. If you puncture meat before it has finished cooking, its juices escape.

To determine when your steak is finished, feel it. Using your palm, follow the chef’s instructions as to how the meat will feel when it has reached the desired state of cooking:
• Rare: Squeeze the pad at the base of your thumb. It should feel spongy and offer little resistance.
• Medium: Press on the middle of the palm of your outstretched hand. It should feel firm and snap back quickly.
• Well done: Squeeze the base of your pinky finger. It should feel very firm with almost no give.

For best flavor, Salgado advises against well-done steak. If you like yours well-done, butterfly the steak to cook quickly without losing flavor. To butterfly, put the steak on its side and cut at an angle about 3/4 of the way down.

For tender steaks, use your favorite marinade and refrigerate for several hours but make sure to bring to room temperature before grilling.

It is helpful to prepare some side dishes the previous night to ensure they will be ready to serve when the steaks are done. Some Morton’s sides are au gratin potatoes, grilled or steamed asparagus, and creamed spinach. A crisp salad is always a winner.

To get your guests off to a good start, try another Morton’s specialty: icy martinis. With this plan, you can be a hero on your own patio. Bon appétit!

Morton’s, The Steakhouse, 74-880 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert; 340-6865

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