Test Kitchen tips: Keeping the heat in the grill

As you find yourself using the grill this summer, here’s a quick tip for holding the heat in the grill as you cook: Keep the lid closed.

A grill works a lot like an oven, building up heat as long as it is sealed. And just as you lose heat every time you open the oven door, you can lose heat every time you open the grill.

This may not be important when grilling quick-cooking items like fish or when you’re simply searing, but it can become an issue when cooking thicker, denser cuts of meat that require longer cooking times.

Make sure you’ve got a reliable grill thermometer on the outside of the grill so you can regulate the temperature, and check every once in a while to make sure you don’t have any flare-ups (smoke rising from the sides of the grill are usually a dead giveaway). Otherwise, relax.


Continue reading below for five recipes just waiting for the grill....

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you’d like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at


Go behind the scenes at the Test Kitchen


134 recipes for your favorite restaurant dishes

Browse hundreds of recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

Cote de boeuf for two

Total time: About 15 minutes, plus 2 hours to bring the meat to room temperature and 10 minutes resting before slicing

Servings: 2

Note: Prime aged, bone-in rib steaks can be found at Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and fine butcher shops. Call ahead to ensure the steaks are available.

1 2-pound prime aged rib steak with the bone in, about 2 inches thick


2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1. Bring the beef to room temperature.

2. Heat a grill or grill pan with deep ridges until very hot, then adjust heat to medium-high.

3. Season the meat well on both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Lay the meat onto the grill and cook 3 minutes. Turn diagonally to cross-hatch the grill marks and cook 3 minutes longer. Repeat the searing and cross-hatching on the second side. Continue cooking, turning the meat and draining off the excess fat if needed, until the center of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 110 degrees for medium rare. This should take just a few minutes more.

5. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

6. Carve the meat at the table: Slice the bone away from the steak, then slice the meat into one-half inch strips perpendicular to the bone.


Each serving: 840 calories; 67 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 61 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 223 mg. cholesterol; 2,474 mg. sodium.

Grilled beef tagliata with arugula salad

Total time: 40 minutes, plus marinating time

Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza.

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons chopped rosemary

4 (7- to 8-ounce) hanger steaks or 1 (2 1/4-pound) flank steak

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallots

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound arugula

Small wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Best-quality olive oil for drizzling

1. Stir together the one-third cup balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the rosemary. Place the steaks in a sealable plastic bag and pour in the liquid mixture. Squeeze out the air, seal tightly and move the steaks around to make sure they are all well-coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight.

2. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, make a vinaigrette by whisking together the lemon juice, Champagne vinegar and shallots, then whisking in the three-fourths cup olive oil. Season with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add more salt if necessary, then set aside.

3. Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. Cook until well-seared on both sides and medium rare, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a plate and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Using a sharp knife, carve the steak diagonally into 1-inch strips across the grain.

4. Rinse and dry the arugula and place in a large bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette briefly, then pour it over the arugula and toss gently to coat lightly. Divide the sliced steak among 6 to 8 dinner plates and place a mound of salad beside each. Using a vegetable peeler, shave a few shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the arugula. Drizzle the steak lightly with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil and serve.

Each of 8 servings: 379 calories; 26 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 29 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 50 mg. cholesterol; 424 mg. sodium.

Naked ribs

Some people like barbecue for the sauce; purists like it for the pork. If you’re one of the latter, you have to try these ribs, developed by Food Editor Russ Parsons. You don’t need a smoker to make them — a good old-fashioned kettle grill will work fine. The trick is to concentrate the heat along one side of the grill, so the ribs can slowly smoke on the cool side. Note also that the dry rub spicing mixture makes enough to repeat this recipe three or four times — in other words, about a week’s worth.

Total time: 2 hours, plus marinating time

Servings: 6 to 8

1/3 cup mild finely ground dried chile

1/2 cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 (4-pound) racks pork spareribs

1. In a jar, combine the chile, salt, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cumin and coriander, crushing any chunks of brown sugar. Cover tightly and shake well to combine thoroughly.

2. Trim the ribs, cutting away any excess fat pieces and loose ends without bones. Lay the ribs flat with the bony underside facing up. If you prefer, remove the flap of meat that covers part of one side. Use a small knife or skewer to poke through the thin, tough membrane that covers the rib bones, lifting a corner of it. Use a clean kitchen cloth to get a good grip and gently but firmly pull the membrane away from the ribs. It will come up in sheets; you may have to repeat the process a couple of times to get it all.

3. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with the dry rub mixture, using about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons per side. Rub to distribute evenly, and then seal tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.

4. Soak 3 cups of hickory chips in enough water to cover generously. Start the coals in a chimney and when they are lightly coated with gray ash, about 20 minutes, empty them into the grill,  arranging them in a gentle slope against one side.

5. When those coals have cooled slightly, about 20 minutes, add two-thirds of the wood chips, replace the grill rack and brush it with oil. Arrange the rib rack well away from the heat and cover tightly so that the lid’s vent holes are over the ribs, opposite the flame. Smoke, turning every 30 minutes or so, until the meat begins to pull away from the rib tips and is so tender that a center bone can almost be pulled loose, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. After about an hour, you’ll need to replenish the smoke, adding the remaining wood chips on top of the coals.

6. Remove the racks from the fire and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to rest. Serve at room temperature, or reheat briefly on the grill, off the fire, before serving.

Each serving: 851 calories; 62 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 64 grams fat; 24 grams saturated fat; 255 mg. cholesterol; 1,337 mg. sodium.

Bistecca fiorentina

Total time: 35 minutes, plus 5 to 6 hours for the steak to reach room temperature

Servings: 3 to 4

Note: Allow the steak to sit out in a cool place, loosely covered, for 5 to 6 hours to come to room temperature.

1 (2-inch-thick) porterhouse steak (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut from the small end of the loin, at room temperature

1 teaspoon best-quality olive oil, plus additional for oiling the rack

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a grill over medium-high heat. (It will be hot enough when you can hold your hand an inch over the grill  for only 5 to 6 seconds.) Lightly oil the grill, and place the steak on the grill. Grill the steak for 5 minutes, then flip over and grill the other side 5 more minutes.

2. Carefully place the steak vertically on the grill, so it is resting on the flat part of the T-bone. Continue to cook, allowing the heat to transmit through the bone to the meat. Cook an additional 15 to 25 minutes (this will depend on the heat of your grill) until a thermometer inserted reads 125 degrees for medium-rare. Remove the steak from the grill to a plate and allow it to rest for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Lightly season the steak with the salt and a couple grinds of pepper, then drizzle the olive oil over it. Slice the steak away from the bone, and then crosswise into strips. Serve immediately.

Each of 4 servings: 321 calories; 38 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 18 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 91 mg. cholesterol; 246 mg. sodium.

Grilled steaks with blue cheese and cranberry confit

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

2/3 cup fresh cranberries

2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 shallots, finely chopped

1/2 cup red wine

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 4 pieces

4 (11- to 12-ounce) New York strip steaks, 1 1/4 inches thick

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces American blue cheese, such as Crater Lake

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or grill pan.

2. Cook the cranberries in one-half cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat until they pop and the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in just enough maple syrup to take off the tart edge.

3. Combine the shallots and wine in a small skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to a glaze. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, a piece at a time. Add the cranberry mixture and keep warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Season the steaks well with salt and pepper on both sides. Sear over the hottest part of the grill for 2 minutes on each side. Move them to a cooler part of the grill and cook, turning once, until done to your taste, about 3 to 5 minutes for medium-rare results. Transfer to serving plates.

5. Spoon the cranberry mixture over the steaks. Crumble the cheese over and serve.

Each serving: 734 calories; 77 grams protein; 12 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 38 grams fat; 20 grams saturated fat; 192 mg. cholesterol; 544 mg. sodium.

Eat your way across L.A.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more from critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.