Necktied with the other guy for the big promotion? Want to get in a little personal time with the boss to ensure the inside track? There's no more appropriate time than midsummer to make your move, and showing your grilling prowess may give you the edge. American Way went to the grilling experts for fail-safe instructions on how to light a fire under your future. Your coaches for this endeavor: John Willoughby, executive editor of Gourmet, and Chris Schlesinger, chef/owner of East Coast Grill in Cambridge and Back Eddy in Westport, Massachusetts, co-authors of seven cookbooks, including The Thrill of the Grill, winner of a James Beard Award, as well as License to Grill and the recently released How to Cook Meat, both James Beard Award nominees.
Mention grilling, and the image that immediately comes to mind is an afternoon spent hanging out in the backyard, flipping burgers over the flames and having a couple of beers with pals or family.
But grilling can also be dressed up for more formal occasions. Of course, when making a mistake may ruin your chances for promotion as well as your dinner, you want to be sure that what comes off the grill is not just decent, but fantastic. So it pays to take a little more care than you might on other occasions. Be sure that you make your charcoal fire in advance or preheat your gas grill, then check the temperature before any food goes over the fire. Keep an eye on what you're cooking, and start checking for doneness earlier than you think you should; you can always put that steak or chop back on the fire and cook it more, but you can't go back and cook it less (we've indicated our preference for doneness throughout, but we'll leave that final call to you - and your boss). It's also important to choose the right food to put over the flames. Since grilling by nature is a high-heat cooking method, you always want to pick foods that will cook relatively quickly. If you're thinking meat as the main course - and you probably will be if you're trying to put together a truly impressive meal for anyone other than a vegetarian - this translates to relatively thin, tender cuts.