On Your Table: It’s grilling & chilling time

The Meat Shop, in Chadds Ford, talks great steak options

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times


For outdoor grilling nothing beats a charcoal fire

The aroma that most evokes summer for me is a whiff of meat sizzling on a smoking hot charcoal grill.  And the good news is that at this time in July we are already in the heart of grilling season, so I am enjoying steaks, burgers, chicken, even vegetables and fruit cooked on the grill.  I love the way a charcoal fire infuses smoky flavor into every inch.

Since steak is American’s number one favorite grilled meat, I consulted with second generation butcher Scott Gagnons, owner of the recently opened Meat Shop in Chadds Ford, on cuts to choose and how to ensure perfectly juicy, tender, flavorful results every time.

His simple advice – let the meat speak for itself.   Touch it only four times.  First is when you place it on the grill.  Second, to achieve those restaurant style grill lines, turn the meat 90 degrees.  Third, flip the meat to get the grill lines on the second side.  And finally, season at the end with kosher salt, pepper and your favorite spices and let rest for at least five minutes so that the steak reabsorbs its juices.  When planning for doneness, realize that the temperature will continue to rise after the meat is taken off the grill.

Scott advised when grilling hamburger, press a thumb print into the center while the meat is still raw.  This will insure the flavor and juices stay in while cooking.  And never press the meat.  This forces the juices and flavor out, he said.


For the ultimate steak experience try dry aged beef

Every meat lover dreams of cutting into a perfectly grilled steak and sharing the experience with friends and family, but what cut to choose?

Scott says that the Meat Shop is trying to introduce affordable cuts of steak so here is a rundown of options from affordable to luxurious:

Hanger steak is cut from between the ribs and the loin. It is very flavorful but benefits from a marinade as it’s a tougher piece of meat. Also called the butcher’s cut the hanger steak was once a piece kept from sale by butchers because it was so flavorful, but the steak is now more available.

Another similar choice is skirt steak, which is a nearby long cut from the underside of the beef.   It’s tougher and more fatty than most other cuts, but its flavor makes it great for grilling and piling into fajitas and tacos. Marinating is a great way to tenderize the meat.  Make sure to grill it no more than medium-rare.

The flatiron steak, a.k.a. the top blade steak, is a marbled cut of beef from the shoulder. It’s a relatively new cut that not many people are familiar with, but it’s actually very affordable and great for grilling. It has a uniform thickness and rectangular shape

Porterhouse steaks, cut from the rear end of the short loin, feature a well-marbled strip on one side and a lean and tender filet on the other divided by a small T-shaped bone.  Farther up the short loin is the T-bone steak. Porterhouse and T-bone cuts can be swapped, but for a more tender filet choose the Porterhouse.

Sirloin is a more flavorful and nicely marbled cut from between the short loin and the rump. Broil, pan-sear or grill the sirloin to medium-rare or medium.

Ribeye steak is one of the most popular and more expensive cuts from the rib section.  It’s great for grilling because it’s very tender and flavorful from its fatty marbling.   Have the butcher cut the steaks at least 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick.  Ribeye steaks don’t need a marinade — salt and pepper is just perfect,

For the ultimate steak experience, try dry aged beef, which is kept in a temperature-controlled environment for at least 21 days so that it sheds 20-30 percent of its moisture.  The resulting concentrated flavor is nutty and buttery.   Because of its reduced moisture it cooks much faster than other types of meat.  Scott offers several different cuts.  I tried the ribeye and grilled it cowboy-style.  It was worth every penny.

The Meat Shop focuses on local products.  The neighborhood grocery offers prepared foods, deli items, a wide range of produce and dairy products plus cut to order meats.

The 5,000 square foot space is packed with fresh and locally sourced products including Yoders milk in glass jars and cheeses from Lancaster County.  The Meat House is located at 200 Wilmington-West Chester Pike (US Route 202) and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.   To place orders in advance, call 610/910-4030.

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