February 23, 2023 3 min read
Taste is always paramount when it comes to food, but we also know that our eyes make the first impression of what we eat. Many people want to know how they can create the perfect cross-line grill mark on a steak or any other meat they serve in a restaurant. It is not as difficult as most people think and if you follow the tips in this article you will easily get the perfect crosshatch grill markings on your stainless steel bbq grill.
What’s the deal with grill marks?
The blackened marks on the stainless steel barbecue grill are caused by the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction between amino acids and carbohydrates that occurs when food is heated. The surface of the food turns brown and caramelizes, making the dish not only tastier but also more visually appealing. This is what creates a delicious grilled meat flavour and the perfect grilled meat appearance.
Clean the grill
Starting with cleaning the stainless steel grill grates is the first step to well defined diamond grill marks. Dirty grates can lead to messy, undefined marks. The best way to clean grates is to light the grill and let the fire burn hot. In this state, it is easy to brush off any debris from the grill surface. Afterwards, use a brush to brush off anything that is still stuck to the grill. Depending on exactly what you are cooking, you can also apply a little oil or sauce to the food. If properly lubricated, the food should come loose from the grate once the markings have been nicely seared in.
Preheat your grill
To get good grill marks, your stainless steel grill must be hot. A not-hot-enough grill is grounds for sticking, and sticky pans are a major problem in ruining nice grill marks. It may take longer than you think to preheat the grill, so please be patient. We recommend preheating the gas grill for 15 minutes with all burners turned up and covered, and we recommend preheating the charcoal grill for 5 minutes.
Dry your meat
We often call for salting meat before we grill it, which pulls moisture to the surface of the meat, so be sure to pat it dry before it hits the stainless steel bbq grill. If you’re not salting beforehand, season the meat right before it goes on the grill. And remember to get your grates nice and oily—if both your meat and the grill grates are dry, there will be some sticking. Keep in mind that some grilled items just aren’t good candidates for grill marks. If your recipe calls for coating the food in a vinaigrette or a sauce before placing it on the grill, don’t worry about pursuing grill marks. Your food will still taste great.
Determine the type of grill mark you want
There are two commonplace patterns to grill marking: the single strip and the crosshatch. Either one you choose, the food should start out at a 45 degree angle to the grate, so the marks will be angled on the finished product. For the single strip of marks, simply use this placement on both sides, but if you're grilling to impress, you'll want to go crosshatch. To achieve the crosshatch, get the first sear done at 45 degrees, then rotate 90 degrees and sear again, flip and repeat. A diamond sear pattern works best for meat and thicker seafood. Vegetables, fruit and smaller seafood do best with a singular diagonal sear pattern to ensure they are not overcooked.
Accelerate browning with the right ingredients
When possible, use ingredients that encourage browning. Soy sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce, and even nonfat milk powder all speed up the Maillard reaction and get color on your food faster.
Sometimes you may want to get those perfectly lined grill marks, especially when seafood and vegetables are involved. Follow the steps above and you can do this every time. However, when it comes to steaks and other meats, having the entire exterior of the meat grilled to a beautiful crust will give you unparalleled flavour.
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