‘Tis The Season: A Guide to Backyard Grilling

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We will not lie to ourselves, or to you, and claim that Brooklyn is an ideal place to live if you’re easily seduced by the time-honored tradition of cooking meat (and, fine, vegetables) over an open flame. There are designated barbecuing areas in the parks, sure, but that’s always something of an ordeal, and there simply aren’t enough backyards or rooftops to go around.

But we all know someone, or someone who knows someone, with access to a space that’s at the very least adequate for grilling—these are the relationships we must cherish above all others, to ensure that we are repeatedly invited back through Labor Day. What better way to do that, we figure, than by being the person who handles the cooking? We spoke to Brent Young and Ben Turley from Williamsburg’s carnivore paradise, The Meat Hook, about what to bring and how to prepare it. Tell everyone else to bring beer. You’ve got the rest covered.


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Steak
You’re gonna want to make sure you’ve got one big show-stopper on your menu, and you could do far, far worse than a 4.5-pound slab of beef known at The Meat Hook as a mansteak. Your pièce de résistance is made up of four different cuts—tri-tip, picanha (similar to the tri-tip and very popular in South American cooking), top sirloin, and filet—so you get “four different textures and varying degrees of beefiness,” according to Young. When it comes to preparation, just don’t fuck with it too much: season liberally with salt and pepper and let it rest for an hour or two at room temperature, hit it with super, super high heat for 3-4 minutes per side, then move to lower heat and flip it every few minutes for another 15 minutes or so. We recommend using a meat thermometer and pulling it once it hits 120-125 degrees. Let it rest for a while, then carve. Everyone will think you’re awesome, because you are.


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Sausages
The Meat Hook has come to be known for their wide variety of super high-quality sausages, and it’s with very good reason: their versions of standard styles like Spicy Italian, Sweet Italian, and Mexican Chorizo hew closely to what you’d expect, but somehow manage to seem fresher and far, far more flavorful—no gimmicks, just the absolute platonic ideal of the sausage.

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Hot Dogs
“This is one of the first things Brent and I collaborated on,” says Turley. “We spent a few years getting it to where it is now—a combination of pork and beef that’s very flavorful, borderline spicy, and we use a natural casing, so it snaps when you bite into it.” No grilling tips needed here: just throw ‘em on, toast up a potato bun, and enjoy. And throw on an extra for yourself to eat while you’re cooking.


Chicken Hearts
For the people who want something a bit unusual to bring to the table. “I get that it might seem weird,” admits Turley, “but they taste fantastic, and they’re tender. Good in a marinade but just as good with only little salt.” When we made them recently, a friend commented that they basically taste like chicken concentrate.

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Burgers
“The cheeseburger,” says Turley, “is the perfect food.” It’s a sentiment that’s hard to dispute, especially after you’ve had one made of The Meat Hook’s custom blend of dry-aged beef, which also happens to be made up of 30 percent fat. “Form the patties by hand, liberally season with salt and pepper, and cook on a hot grill 4-5 minutes on each side,” he says. “This should yield a nice medium rare burger. As for cheese, it’s dealer’s choice, but we prefer American because it melts quickly.” Whichever cheese you choose (we sheepishly prefer cheddar), don’t be stingy: two slices, not one, arranged in the shape of a star, just because.

Chicken Legs and Thighs
“I really like to have a marinade or BBQ sauce available to brush onto the chicken while it’s on the grill.  Just keep it on a medium heat for about 20 minutes and you should be there!”

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Sides
There are almost no vegetables that aren’t vastly improved upon with the addition of a few grill marks. We advocate for taking a nice big handful of scallions and some asparagus and throwing them on the grill for a few minutes once everything else is done. Also recommended: grilled romaine hearts with a lemon and garlic vinaigrette. Or opt for a simple but crazy beautiful and delicious salad of spinach, almonds, and fresh strawberries.

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