We grilled Atlanta chefs about a topic near and dear to their flame-kissed hearts and very pertinent to a succulent gridiron season. Fire up the charcoal, but stop playing with your patties, advises Ray’s at Killer Creek executive chef Mike Fuller. Translation, for a juicy, tender burger, patty super-fresh ground beef until it just holds together.
Garrett Teckmyer, executive chef of Buckhead’s The Big Ketch, relies on planning and prep, soaking wood chips overnight then mixing them into the hot coals to add a nice smoky flavor to burgers. Teckmyer encourages branching out and grilling something different. He suggests wrapping crab legs in a wet paper towel, enfolding them in an aluminum foil packet and tossing the packet on the grill for five minutes.
Aria’s executive chef/owner Gerry Klaskala divulges that his Big Green Egg is his secret weapon. He rebels against lighter fluid, suggesting food tastes better when grillers use a chimney fire starter.
Gypsy Kitchen executive chef Matthew Ridgway advises using wood-based charcoal, pointing out that even though it’s pricier, less charcoal is needed.
Naturally, celebrity chef/owner of Gunshow and Revival and “Pure Pork Awesomeness” cookbook author Kevin Gillespie’s favorite thing to grill is pig. He even has a simplified Korean barbecue recipe in the book for the ever versatile meat, using thinly sliced pork shoulder and “whatever condiments you have.”
When it comes to ingredients, our chefs agree: buy the best you can find. As a huge Penn State and NASCAR infield tailgater, Marlow’s Tavern executive chef/co-founder John Metz always urges using quality steak, ribs or brisket, and he implores grillers not to compromise. Fuller prefers turning to a trusted butcher for hand-cut steaks that are at least an inch thick and choosing a rib-eye or a New York strip that has a 1/4-inch fat cap, which will melt and baste the steak as it cooks. Ridgway advises letting your grilled masterpiece rest for 10 minutes and pouring those delicious salty, meaty juices into your baked potatoes.