How To Grill Without A Grill
I love a good piece of grilled chicken, so when I was staying at a house by the coast, I was dismayed to see that there was no grill. This caused me to take a look at how I could get that same taste and texture other ways.
Oven Broiling (It’s very healthy)
My first thought was “Oven Broiling.” For those of you that don’t know what broiling is aka using a grill pan, I will quickly explain. Broiler pan cooking is a method that uses dry high heat in the oven to cook solid food (like a piece of chicken). The temperature must be set to approximately 550°F (289°C). The meat needs to be close to the source of the heat, so the radiated heat reaches it, and not just the hot air flowing around the oven. On some stoves, the high heat source will be the top and on others, the bottom. Being close to the heat source means the radiated heat will sear the outer layer of the food and give that crusty texture.
You may be thinking that this sounds a bit like baking the meat or using an upside-down grill, but the difference is the proximity to the heat source and the temperature. With baking, the temperature would be more like 375°F (190°C), and no crusty outer layer should be formed. In baking, the meat may well be covered in foil. Make sure to leave the oven door open when broiling.
Cast Iron Skillet Perfection
Cast iron skillets aka grill pan are a bit of a mystery to some people. The skillet grill pan looks like any other frying pan and are just more cumbersome. So what is all the fuss about? Once you have used a skillet once, you will understand. It is like saying a Ford hatchback is the same as a Porsche because they both have four wheels and get you from A to B.
Skillets or grill pan get better with age. I was freaked out when as a young boy I was watching an expert cook use a skillet and then when she had finished she didn’t wash it. All she did was wipe it down using a paper kitchen towel dipped in oil. Anyway, I digress. When you cook your piece of chicken on a grill pan, it is going to slightly burn the outer skin of the chicken because of direct contact with the hot pan.
You do not use oil; make sure to just wipe it with an oily paper before using so that when you finally eat your piece of chicken you bite through a slightly harden crust before the flavoursome softer meat is released with all the goodness. It leaves beautiful grill marks that no one would guess was done without a grill.
The Faithful Crock Pot
If you live alone, these pots are a real timesaver. I used to have two. One I would fill with potato, carrots, and peas and the three quarter fill it with water. The second one would contain my piece of meat with a little seasoning and a thin layer of onion on the bottom, under the meat. Before I went to work in the morning, I would switch them both on. They only use the power of a lightbulb, yet when I returned home in the evening; I would have a perfectly cooked meal waiting for me, ready to serve up.
The very slow cooking with the piece of meat close to the ceramic pot would cook the meat right through and give a little bit of texture as well.
Add Some Smoky Flavor Seasoning
There is cooking, where you want to cook your meat to the optimum point, where it is slightly harder on the outside than inside but not so much that you break teeth on it. Then there is adding subtlety to your disk, what better way to enhance the piece of chicken than with a very subtle Smokey taste, that faint taste of wood smoked paprika takes a good chicken piece to an excellent one. In cooking, it is the detail that makes the difference.
There are various products that you can marinade your meat in, to achieve that smoked grilled flavor. Try making a little Lapsang Souchong tea and pouring it over the meat, soaking for a few minutes before cooking. This will result in a delicious smokey flavour.
There are a whole host of different seasonings that can modify your food’s flavour so that it tastes more like grilled flavor. These could include:
- Chipped chilli peppers
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Hickory smoky flavor sea salt
Go to any supermarket, and you can find these ready-made products. Be brave, experiment with your unique ingredients to see what works best for you.
Liquid Smoke (first introduced in 1895)
There is a smoky flavor product that has been designed to allow anyone to get the flavour of a grill cooked over charcoal. The product is called “Liquid Smoke”, and it can be purchased at either a specialist food store or online. The product is manufactured out of a compressed smoke and turned into a liquid. It would be best if you were very careful when using this as it is pretty powerful stuff and instead of the hint of smoke that you are searching for you can end up with a disgustingly over-smoked dish.
To use this product correctly, the best way is to use a pastry brush and paint “a little” onto the meat, both before you start to cook and during the cooking process. Just paint very lightly.
This product was invented by Ernest H Wright, who as a teenager, witnessed hot smoke touching a cold pipe and creating a black liquid spontaneously. He did some further research and launched this product as long ago as 1895, and the company “Wrights liquid Smoke” is still trading today.
In case you are worried that you would not use it all and would waste most of the bottle. It has a shelf life that exceeds two years. There are three varieties available: Pecan, Applewood, and Mesquite. Some people also opt to mix it with other flavourings like Balsamic vinegar before they use it.
Build your own Indoor Smoker – Get Creative
Are you feeling creative? Then why not make your own indoor smoker. It isn’t tough, and you can use it for cooking the food right inside your kitchen. As a precaution it might be an idea to set up a fan to blow any excess smoke towards your window and to momentarily turn off your smoke alarm, Please do not forget to turn it back on.
Find a large aluminium pan, one where the sides are quite high. Construct a lining out of some heavy-duty foil, then place a layer of wood chips inside. Any wood will work, but applewood gives the sweetest BBQ flavour.
Your next task is to cover the woodchips with come more foil, poking a few holes in the foil so that when the wood starts to smoke, the smoke can rise. The final component is a wire rack to stand over the top of this. Place your meat on the wire rack and then put the lid on the pan.
As the pan heats up, you should see smoke rising through the holes you poked in the foil and filling the upper chamber that contains the meat, or fish.
With this home-made smoker, you are getting the real deal and does count to get grill marks without a grill. No liquid smoke required, the result is heavenly smoky flavor meat.
Once you have smoked for about 3 or 4 minutes that will probably be enough and you can move the meat or fish straight into your oven and broil it the way described above. When eventually you serve this food, it will be delicately flavoured with that genuine smoke flavour.
How to Make Grill Marks Without a Grill (really sneaky)
Let’s look at how to put authentic-looking marks on the food that add to the illusion that it has been cooked over a charcoal grill. In the first part of this article, we described various ways to make the food taste like real grilled food, and now we will add to the visual effect. It is an essential detail that many people forget.
Cheat No 1 – Ridged Grill Pans Method
If you look in a cookshop, you probably will see grill pans that have ridges to allow the food to be raised from any fat or oil that has accumulated. Use grill pans the way described earlier for regular cast iron pans. These ridges will create marks that look like a genuine grill that had been used.
Cheat No 2 – Hot Skewer Method
You do not even need a ridged pan to achieve these marks. The same effect can be achieved by heating a large carving knife and holding it diagonally on the meat so that it makes a scorch mark, then repeat the operation a couple more time making parallel lines.
Final Words on Grilling
Well, in that article we have covered quite a few techniques for changing the taste and appearance of your food to suggest that it is the product of a grill. This attention to detail is what makes an ordinary meal into a great one.