How to Make Grill Marks
Jeff StultsFor 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
Watch this video to learn how to grill a piece of chicken with perfect crosshatch grill marks.
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I'm Chef Rob Mullooly from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make grill marks.
There are a couple of things that you need when you're going to approach the task of grilling. You need the appropriate grill; in this case we're using a cast iron grill that has some grooves in it, to help us make some nice grill marks. My grill pan needs to be hot: that is the key to success when you're grilling. I have here a basic kitchen towel that I've rolled up, and I've tied it with some twine; it's important that I have my towel nice and moistened with oil so I can moisten the grill with this. This will also help in preventing the protein from sticking to the grill.
What we're looking for is to place the protein - the chicken breast - on the grill in a certain direction. If you imagine you're looking at a clock, I like to say we'll put the chicken breast on facing toward ten o'clock, and then we'll turn it, once we get the marks, towards two o'clock.
I have my pan already preheating at this point. There's some good heat coming off the pan; I can feel the heat. I look to see there's a light film of smoke coming off, and using some tongs you're going to take your oiled towel and just wipe the grill pan lightly on the inside. This is what we call conditioning our grill. You see that light haze of smoke coming off, which is what you want; that's an indication that you're hot enough.
And then come right in and season your chicken breast - liberal with salt, light with the black pepper - and then I'm going to give the chicken a little bit of oil on both sides. Now this is light, you don't want it to taste like oil; just use this to prevent your protein from sticking.
I can see that my grill is good to go now, so place the chicken skin side down and facing toward ten o'clock, and you can see we've got a nice sizzle going. You don't need to play with it; just let the hot grill do its thing. So I've got a little bit of smoke happening here, I just tilt the pan a bit - I'm looking for some color - and then I just do a little peek and lift it up, and I can see that I'm getting some color, and it's looking good.
So after about three minutes here at ten o'clock, you can go ahead and turn it, just get underneath it like this and turn it to two o'clock. It's really important that you commit to where you're going to turn it to, so you get those good even crosshatch marks.
So we want three minutes on each mark. Overall, a small chicken breast like this, in a good cast iron pan - probably in about twelve minutes total, your chicken breast should be done. I'm at three more minutes here, so I'm going to flip it, take a look at it, and I'm going to go back to ten o'clock on the other side, and see I've got beautiful cross hatch marks here, and I'm going do exactly the same thing to the other side.
So now we're done, and I've got nice grill marks on both sides of my chicken, and the grill marks are the flavor. They're not only attractive, but you have the flavor from the grill and the beautiful professional looking marks. So we go ahead and put that on the plate. And that's how you make really good grill marks.
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