Anyone who has ever enjoyed a meal at a roadhouse restaurant or grill will know exactly how good a flame grilled steak or burger can be. The smokiness, tender and juicy meat, and amazing aromas all combine to create an unforgettable experience.
Achieving this same flame grilled flavor at home might seem difficult at first. You may have tried for years to replicate the flavors of your favorite grill spots, only to be left with food that tastes just like what you could cook on a stovetop.
Don’t worry, it’s probably not your grill, but rather the cooking style that you’re used to.
What Makes the Flame Grilled Flavor?
Some home cooks will tell you that you need charcoal for authentic flame grilled flavor, but there’s only a little truth to this. The reality is that the unique smoky flavor doesn’t come from the flame at all. It’s a combination of heat and vaporized juices that reintegrate with your food.
You can get authentic flame grilled flavor from gas, charcoal, and even some electric grills.
The key is the cooking surface. You won’t get flame grilled flavor from a flat top griddle. You need cooking grates with space between them. As you cook meat like beef, pork, and poultry, the juices and fats will begin to render and fall through the grates.
When they make contact with hot coals, burner guards, or even an electric cooking element, they will be instantly vaporized. This flavonoid-rich vapor will then rise and accumulate on the outside of your food to create the beautifully crispy outside that we all love so much.
Understanding this, it’s actually incredibly simple to get authentic flame grilled flavor at home.
Do You Have the Right Equipment?
Make sure you’re using standard cooking grates. Cast iron and stainless steel will both work. Cast iron will give you more prominent sear marks, but stainless steel is easier to use and clean.
Make sure your grill is hot enough to sear the food. If juices aren’t vaporizing, then you need to get the grill hotter. On a charcoal grill, open the vents to increase the intensity. On a gas or electric grill, simply adjust the heat regulator.
Medium-high heat works best for this style of cooking. You’ll want your grill to be around 375 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the cooking instructions for any recipe you’re working with.
As long as your grill is hot enough and you’re cooking over direct heat, you’ll be able to enjoy the goodness of flame grilled flavor at home.