Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


Summer Grillin'

Join My Grilling Session at Clevelands House

There are few places I feel as comfortable as I do in front of a grill. It's what I know. It's what I do well. It's just me and the fire and the meat. It's this passion for grilling that lead me down the culinary path I've been on for the past 20 years or so. Sure I cook recipes in the kitchen all the time, but it's outside with tongs in hand that I'm cosmically happy. 

With spring in full swing and summer just beyond the horizon I feel rejuvenated as grilling season is upon us. Sure I grill all year round, but once the weather is hot I'm outside manning the 'Q as often as I possibly can. Happy feeding people and sipping a beer as I grill along my merry way.
When I was asked to host a grilling session later this summer at the YMC hosted weekend at Muskoka resort Clevelands House, I was over the moon. Sharing my passion for grilling with you all—what more can a guy ask for?
I'll likely spend all summer fine-tuning recipes to share with everyone (all purely in the name of research of course) and preparing some never-fail tips to help you become better backyard cooks. The thing I love about grilling is that once you learn some of the fundamentals of what is taking place on the grill, it's really hard to go wrong. Mixing and matching flavour combinations is simple —because you've already got the basics down pat. 
A great example is the hamburger. Learn how to make a great homemade hamburger and you can feed people with different flavour profiles time and again and never get it wrong. Once you know how to create and cook the perfect burger it's only a matter of what toppings your imagination can come up with. 
Some examples that I've served up recently:
  • The Club Burger topped with grilled pastrami, avocado and spicy mayo 
  • The Jamaican Jerk Burger with sweet pineapple-bbq sauce, jerk aioli and scotch bonnet peppers 
  • The Mediterranean Burger with cumin-spiced beef and harissa sauce
  • An Open-Faced, Smoked Meat Stuffed Burger with Mushroom Gravy

To get you started here are some of my best burger cooking tips:

  It's not done until it's 71. Beef doneness can only be measured one way: internal temperature. It can be as scorched on the outside as a lump of charcoal, if it's not 71 inside, it's not ready to eat.

  Do not buy prepackaged burgers! They are overly processed, frequently frozen, and often contain additives to increase their shelf life.

  Purchase ground beef. You probably do not want the leanest selection available at the butcher or your hamburgers are going to dry out. I like grabbing the medium ground beef which refers to the fat content (about 20%).  

  Keep it simple. I let the great flavour of the meat speak for itself and then spend my time worrying about toppings and fixings. Also, binders (e.g. egg) and fillers (e.g. breadcrumbs) are not needed. Trust me.

  With damp hands, take a handful of beef (about 1/3 pound) and using your hands lightly form into a pattie. Do not over-handle, do not over-press. Once you’re satisfied with the shape, use your thumbs to make a slight dimple in the middle of the hamburger. This will keep your hamburgers from swelling up and resembling meatballs instead of patties.

  Continue forming the hamburgers and place them on a platter. Once done, season with salt and pepper. That’s it.

  When you’re ready to grill your hamburgers, warm your grill up between Medium-High and High. Place the hamburgers on the grill and close it up. We’re going to leave the lid down to (a) keep the heat high to cook the hamburgers and (b) to limit oxygen and thus avoid flare-ups. If you see a lot of smoke suddenly pouring out, you likely have a flare up. Open the grill, move any hamburgers with flames licking at them to another spot and close the grill back up.

 Aim to turn our hamburgers once and once only. They’re going to be ready to turn when you can see browning creeping up towards the top side of the burgers and the top has turned a nice bright red. If you’ve waited long enough, the hamburgers will not stick and will not fall apart when you go to turn them. Depending on your grill, your burgers will probably cook about 4 minutes per side. Do not cut them in half to check doneness, or press them down with your spatula to flatten them, you will lose far too much moisture.

That’s it, voila! You forgot how simple and delicious homemade hamburgers taste, didn’t you? And you’ll likely never purchase the prepackaged/frozen variety again.

So make sure you come to the YMC Family Weekend so you and your husband can learn the finer points of grilling with me in person, at Clevelands House from Aug 23-26, 2012.

Join us at the YMC Family Weekend at Clevelands House!

Register ASAP by calling 1-866-645-1902 or via email at [email protected].

YMC Members get 20% Off—Make sure you mention YMC when you call to get your discount.