Tabletop Grill Recipes for Beef

Tabletop Grill Recipes for Beef

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  1. There was a point in my life when I considered vegetarianism. I knew several vegetarians, and they all seemed so trim, healthy and full of themselves. But then I saw one of those “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner” ads and I balked. Then PETA became a household name and they pissed me off so much that I abandoned any thoughts of a vegan lifestyle.

    When it comes to cooking beef, I am of the firm belief that nothing tops the flavor of meat cooked over a wood fire. Personally, I don’t care if it’s hickory, mesquite, alder, any nut or fruit wood or even oak; it’s all good. Just use a little common sense and try to avoid cooking over oleander branches, because it’ll be your last meal if you do. But what to do when beef is for dinner and it’s raining—or worse, snowing—outside? Granted, we don’t get a lot of either here in Los Angeles, but sometimes we have to stay inside to avoid the dust clouds produced when earthquakes topple buildings or when the gangs decide to take over the neighborhood. What am I going to do with that nice cut of beef under such circumstances?

    This is when having a tabletop grill comes in handy. Naturally, my first choice would be the wood fire, followed by a charcoal fire, followed at a huge leap by a gas fire. But if I have to choose between cooking in the oven or on my electric grill, I’ll opt for the tabletop grill and settle for fourth best over fifth best.


    We use a Farberware tabletop grill and, so far, haven’t had any complaints. Oh, well with our first one, the power cord frayed and we couldn’t find a replacement. That was annoying, but it wasn’t exactly unexpected as the grill was my father’s and was over 30 years old. These grills aren’t east to find, but they’re easy to use and clean, and they last nearly forever. Try looking in yard sales and swap meets; if all else fails, there’s always Ebay or Amazon.

    I hate to season beef usually; the natural flavor of a good cut of beef should not be masked by anything. But when settling for the tabletop grill, the meat often needs a little help.


    Steaks can turn out fine on a tabletop grill if you take the proper precautions. First of all, if you want your steak rare or medium rare on the inside and seared on the outside, and it’s anything less than an inch and a half thick, stick it in the freezer until it’s hard enough to use as a weapon. First flip the grill on your cooker over so the meat will be closer to the elements, then slap that puppy—or rather the steak; if you’re cooking dogs, there’s something very wrong with you—on the grill when it’s a block of ice’s first cousin and let it sit. Don’t turn it until it’s sizzling like mad (but be sure to turn it before the center thaws completely; you can check this by poking it with a finger, preferably one you’ve washed in the last few days), and be sure not to overcook it, but remove it from the grill before the flip side is seared as much as you’d like (just serve it with that side facing down and you’ll never know the difference). Also, sprinkle both sides of the steak generously (once it’s thawed a little; otherwise the seasoning will just blow off with the slightest breeze) with Penzey’s Chicago Steak Seasoning to give it the illusion of having been cooked over wood, as the seasoning contains a healthy dose of natural hickory flavoring.


    Shish Kebobs may not have originated in America, but we have certainly adopted and altered the recipe to suite us. Start with one-inch cubes of lean sirloin and separate those on the skewer with whatever vegetables will fit that bring a smile to your peculiar face (little onions, cloves of garlic and cherry tomatoes work well for me). Baste the kebobs with butter if you’re all out of shish (and who keeps a lot of shish on hand anyway?) and sprinkle them with lemon pepper, Penzey’s Chicago or Turkish seasoning, or whatever strikes your fancy.


    London Broil turns out very nicely when cooked on a tabletop grill, provided the cut fits on the grill. This is one of the leaner cuts of beef, so you will have to season it and season it good. A dry seasoning works best; if you baste or marinade the beef, watch it carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn, especially if the sauce has any sugar in it. I prefer to use my own homemade rub on London broils, but Penzey’s Turkish Seasoning or Arizona Dreaming work very nicely and will add a little—but not too much—heat.


    Eye of Round and Top Round Roasts do very well on an electric grill, provided you have a rotisserie unit that works. These are fairly small roasts that cook quickly, so be sure to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer after only 15-20 minutes if you want it on the rare side. The eye of round is very lean and requires plenty of seasoning. Again, I recommend a dry rub; however, basting with a sugar-based marinade can make it char more quickly, if that’s what you want. The top roast has a thin layer of fat and is therefore more flavorful. This is the one I prefer, and I don’t season it at all. Of all the beef roasts, these do the best on a small rotisserie because they are easy to center on the spit and small enough that they won’t tax the rotisserie motor much. However, you can cook these even without the rotisserie unit; you just have to rotate it about 1/8 a turn every couple minutes. And remember: if you cook it on the grill without the rotisserie, the meat will be a lot closer to the coils. This means that it will cook faster; it will also brown better.


    If you don’t know the internal temperatures that match up with various degrees of doneness, consult your Joy of Cooking. If you don’t have a Joy of Cooking… what’s wrong with you? It’s the Bible of the kitchen and anyone who likes to cook should own one. Again, check yard sales and swap meets, because buying new gets very expensive.


    Also, get yourself an instant-read thermometer. You will need this for almost any meat you cook if you want it to come out right.

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