Whether you don't have access to a barbecue or it's too cold or rainy to fire up the grill outside, you can still get the same kind of charbroiled, smoky flavor you'd get on that stainless-steel Weber. Arm yourself with a few key utensils, expert tips and crafty hacks and you'll be grilling with the best of them -- only indoors.
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1. How to Get That Smoky Taste
You can mimic the taste of meat and vegetables that just came off a charcoal grill with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Fry a few strips of bacon, then use the rendered fat to cook the rest of your meal, tossing in the cut bacon for added smoke. A tablespoon or two of molasses adds smoky depth to glazes and marinades, as do cured meats like chorizo. Or choose dark beer like Guinness or a porter to marinate your meat, or substitute in some chicken, beef or vegetable broth. One of our favorite healthy ways to infuse a smoky taste is to add finely ground Lapsang Souchong tea leaves to a marinade. Other tricks of the trade include smoked salt, smoked olive oil and smoked paprika.
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2. How to Prep Your Meat for Minimum Smoke
The biggest issue for most would-be indoor grillers is the amount of smoke that grilling meat can create. The key? Cutting off the fat will help avoid creating too much smoke (and will make your meal healthier). Also, if you marinate your meat, be sure dry it and remove all spices, minced garlic or seasonings like mustard seeds: The seasonings will burn, creating more smoke and giving the food an acrid flavor.
3. How to Grill Using a Cast-Iron Pan
Want to know the key to indoor grilling? "Invest in a wide [cast-iron] skillet with a grill-pan bottom," says Inspiralized.com's Ali Maffucci. "This way, you can grill veggies of all sizes and really cram them in without worrying they're going to fall off the edges." But here's the trick: When prepping the pan, oil only the ridges to prevent the food from sticking, leaving the valleys unoiled to provide a dry heat source. Use oils like canola or grapeseed, which have a high smoke point. Plus, Maffucci says, "After you're done grilling, you can toss in whatever you need sauteed -- without dirtying another dish."
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4. How to Get Perfect Crosshatch Grill Marks
Your meat doesn't have to belie the fact that you're not cooking over an open flame. To imprint grill marks on your steaks, chicken and even veggies, oil your pan and heat it until it starts to smoke. Place your dry meat on the pan, then rotate 90-degrees after a minute or two. Repeat, then flip and repeat on the other side. Another way to remember is to place the food at 10 o'clock then rotate to 2 o'clock.
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5. How to Grill on a Gas Stovetop
"Char your bell peppers on an open gas flame on the stovetop," says Maffucci, "and then once they are blackened on all sides, cut them open, slice into pieces and place back on a grill pan, flatten them out and press down on the grill lines to get those pretty grill marks." An open flame easily chars corn on the cob, zucchini, eggplant and pineapple kebabs. If you don't have a gas stove, you can also light a can of Sterno and cook directly over that.
6. How to Grill a Juicy Burger in Your Oven
Grilling on the stovetop too smoky? "Use an oven-safe grill pan and a burger press simultaneously to get those grill marks without grilling fully," says Maffucci. "First, heat a burger press [with grill lines] for about five to seven minutes in an oven preheated at 400 degrees. Then, using an oven mitt, press it down on your burgers to get those grill marks evenly on both sides. Transfer the food to bake in the oven." This method works well for grilling pork chops and veggies in the oven. The burger press is a great investment because it's additionally helpful when grilling anything on the stovetop. A nice, heavy cast-iron burger press is great for weighing down asparagus and chicken breasts, for instance, so that you get those essential grill marks. If you're using the press to grill on the stovetop, heat the bottom directly on the stovetop burner before placing on top of the food.
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7. How to Grill Using Your Broiler
Smart cooks know their broiler is essentially an inverted grill, but to use it properly, move your rack as close to the heat as you can. If your broiler is in a drawer at the base of your oven, your food will rest about four to five inches away from the heat, so broiling could take longer. Preheat the grill pan or skillet while the oven is heating up, then carefully oil and place the food on it and put on the top rack. Some experts recommend keeping the oven door cracked open a bit in order to release some of the heat. If you're cooking thicker cuts or chicken, broil on each side until browned and starting to blacken, then bake in the oven at 375 degrees until they are cooked through (using a meat thermometer to take out the guesswork). For ribs, broil first, then set the oven to 275 and cook for two to three hours, depending on the type of ribs.
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8. How to Use a Kitchen Torch to Grill
A culinary torch -- a kitchen tool that uses butane to create a super-hot flame -- is typically used in professional kitchens on desserts like creme brulee or other burnt-sugar dishes. But that doesn't mean you can't use one for kitchen grilling. Pick from any number of kitchen stores, including Williams Sonoma or Bed Bath & Beyond, then get to work charring vegetables like bell peppers and corn on the cob by applying the flame and then letting them steam inside a plastic bag. You can also sear tomato skins until they crack and even finish your steak using this method.
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9. How to Make a Stovetop Smoker: Step 1
If you're willing to part with $350, Sanyo's Smokeless Electric Grill may be the choice for your countertop. It uses a water basin to cut down on smoke and can grill a handful of kebabs, steaks and chicken parts simultaneously. But there are also ways to smoke meats right on your stovetop without a flame, from using a Dutch oven to a cast-iron wok. We like Saveur magazine's method best: First, cover the bottom of a heavy-duty stainless steel stock pot with foil and sprinkle a handful of smoker wood shavings or small barbecue wood chips. Then cover with another layer of foil and a stainless steel steamer basket.
Stovetop Smoker: Step 2
Then cover with another layer of foil and a stainless steel steamer basket and place your food in the steamer basket.
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Stovetop Smoker: Step 3
Finally, put the lid on and cover with aluminum foil to trap the smoke in. Turn the heat on high for about five minutes before lowering to medium. The heat will make the wood chips start smoking without actually lighting them on fire. Thin cuts and fish may only need 15 minutes but thicker cuts of beef (like in the previous photo) might need closer to 20 to 30 minutes. If you're smoking chicken on the bone or pork shoulder, you may need to finish these in the oven using a meat thermometer.
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