Cooking Tips

SHAKE YOUR WICKER’S

The first thing you should always do is “shake” your Wicker’s bottle so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.

HOW TO MARINATE

If you have time, always marinate the meat you are going to cook because marinating makes the flavor more vibrant. Always refrigerate anything that is going to be marinated longer than 20 minutes. Chicken, pork and beef will all benefit from marinating. The larger the piece of meat, the longer you should marinate it. Fish and chicken filets should not be marinated longer than 15 minutes, or they will begin to break down. Large roasts can be marinated for a couple of days. Marinate cut up or halved chicken, ribs or pork steaks overnight and beef steaks at least two hours before cooking.

PREPARING THE OUTDOOR GRILL

Cooking meats and poultry outdoors on a grill will impart more flavor than cooking on a grill pan on your stovetop or baking in the oven. So, if weather permits and you are in the mood to “grill-out,” go for it! Remember to give yourself enough time.

It takes approximately 30 minutes for a charcoal fire to be ready for cooking, after it is built and lighted. Arranging the charcoal and starting the fire can take time as well (especially if you’ve forgotten where you stored the charcoal or you have to clean the grill from last time.)

Stack your charcoal into a pyramid shape. Use as many that will create a heat source under your meat when spread out flat. Be sure to use a good quality charcoal lighter to avoid any aftertaste. Soak the charcoal briquettes well with lighter fluid and wait at least 5 minutes. Then, fully light them. If you wait until the coals are white (the approximate 30 minutes), there should be no lighter residue at all. Never pour more charcoal lighter on the briquettes after you light the fire, it can cause a dangerous flare up.

Don’t forget to add some soaked wood chips to the smoldering coals just before cooking, to develop a smokier flavor in your meats. Chips may be soaked while you are waiting for the fire to be ready. Popular wood chips include hickory, mesquite and chips from most fruit bearing trees.

If it is a very windy day, you may have trouble lighting your fire. Try to pull the grill into a protected area. If it is extremely windy, consider grilling out another day.

Gas grills are faster, because you just turn them on, let them heat, and go. It is very difficult to duplicate the flavor of charcoal fire; however, it is possible to get excellent wood flavor on a gas grill. If you soak large hunks of wood for a few hours, and then place them in a steel tray on the bottom of the grill, the wood will steam and give off lots of smoke to give the meat a good BBQ flavor. The steel trays are available at Williams-Sonoma and other gourmet equipment outlets.

GRILLING Vs. BARBECUEING

Grilling generally refers to cooking food over a charcoal or gas grill in a short amount of time. Grilling is used for steaks, chops, boneless chicken breasts and other foods you can cook quickly. The hot charcoal or gas flame is positioned directly under the food to be cooked.

Barbecuing is done with indirect heat and is usually the best way to cook large pieces of meat, such as pork shoulders (also called Boston Butts) or whole chickens. If you are using charcoal, you can place it at one side of the bottom of the grills and put the food on the grid at the other end, or you can push the charcoals into a circle and place the meat on a rack in the middle. Many Memphis in May World BBQ Championship teams have elaborate ways for the smoke to reach the meat without putting it in direct contact with the heat source. Smoke can he siphoned out from a firebox toward the meat at the other end of the cooker or filtered toward it in some other ingeniuous way. The main thing to keep in mind is that a very slowly cooked piece of meat will be much more tender and smoky flavored using the indirect method of cooking. If ribs or pork shoulders are cooked over hot, direct heat, they will not release all the fat and, instead will become dry and overcooked on the outside and fatty on the inside.

Be sure to use tongs and mitts when grilling or barbecuing. Poking holes in the meat or poultry will cause juices to run out, so your finished product will suffer. Only poke when you think the meat is “done” and your checking with an instant-read thermometer.

Buy the best meat or poultry you can. Baby back ribs are the meatiest, but also the most expensive. Longer ribs (St. Louis style ribs) are just as good and cost less. Smaller chickens (2 1/2 to 3 pounds) ar more tender, cook faster and are generally tastier.

When cooking for longer periods, you will need to add more charcoal along the way and replenish your wood chips to keep the smoke coming.

INDOOR COOKING WITH WICKER’S

When the weather turns cold, or your faced with a rainy day, you still can cook with Wicker’s…but indoors. Follow the same general principals for marinating your meat, but instead of builing a fire, you will be doing your cooking on the stovetop…with a grill pan or other stovetop grill and in the oven or perhaps in a slow cooker.

A marinated beef pot roast, slow cooked in Wicker’s Black Label is mouth watering. Steaks marinated for 2 to 3 hours in Wicker’s Black Label then grilled on the stovetop can be equal to even superior to a gourmet restaurant’s recommended entree’.

Don’t forget, a splash of Wicker’s Original, a dash of Wicker’s Thicker and some Wicker’s Black Label can improve the taste of many foods. So, don’t be afraid to experiment.