It might rain on Labor Day. Or you might live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, with no access to an outdoor grill. When you're faced with a couple of pounds of marinaded, raw chicken, the sight of rain -- or your tiny loft apartment -- might seem rather depressing. Miami urban dwellers should also know by now that grilling on a balcony is not an option, since it's a serious fire hazard.
There are a few ways to successfully fake that char-grilled flavor indoors, though. We looked to Aniece Meinhold, of The Federal Food Drink & Provisions, for her tips on mastering indoor grilling -- just in case Monday comes with a storm, or you're still living in that small downtown apartment.
Meinhold suggests first starting off with the proper equipment. "Cast iron grill pans conduct and absorb heat very well, so you're able to get it to that right temperature to properly sear and caramelize meat," she explains. The trick is letting the pan heat up for at least ten minutes, since hot temperatures on a cast iron grill pan will emulate the charred result on an outdoor grill.
The only issue with achieving this high heat is the abundance of smoke. If your stove isn't equipped with an extractor, it's best to open all the balcony, doors and windows in your apartment. Then, turn a small fan on and hope that the fire alarm doesn't go off.
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Also, be sure to select the proper ingredients. High-fat ingredients can get extremely messy with all the smoke and the splatters. For this reason, it's ideal to save the leaner meats for grilling indoors. Grilling vegetables, fish or chicken will be neater and easier than a fatty cut of steak or ribs.
There are ways to get around the mess of fattier meats though. Meinhold suggests pre-cooking (roast, braise, etc) before finishing off on the cast iron grill pan with a bit of barbecue sauce. This first step will keep the meat nice and tender, while the final sear on the grill will encourage a flawless caramelization.
Lastly, when it comes to ribs, Meinhold recommends planning ahead with this four step process: an overnight brine, then a dry rub, followed by a slow roast in a shallow pan -- submerged in liquid and covered -- and finished off on the hot grill on the stove.