Celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon are stopping by TODAY to heat up the competition in the kitchen. On their Food Network series, "BBQ Brawl: Flay v. Symon," these culinary connoisseurs compete alongside great grillers, expert pitmasters and barbecue bigwigs from across the country.
To celebrate the start of their new show, Symon and Flay are going head-to-head in a steak and taco cook-off. Chef Flay is cooking up spiced rubbed skirt steak with jalapeño pesto and open-faced tacos with cabbage slaw, while chef Symon is preparing skirt steak with corn and blackberry salad and grilled rib-eye tacos with tomatillo salsa.
But first, the pair share their top tips for cookout perfection.
Bobby's Grilling Tips
1. Keep equipment to a minimum.
Forget the bells and whistles and keep your equipment simple. I rely on a good, strong pair of tongs, a sturdy spatula, brushes for sauces and glazes, a few heavy-duty potholders and a strong wire scraper to keep the grates of the grill clean. Don't spend your money on a hundred different gadgets that promise to make you an expert griller. You will become an expert with practice.
2. Make sure it's hot.
Most of the time, I grill over high heat. I like things to move fast, I like the sound and smell of a very hot fire and I gravitate towards dishes that you can get on and off the grill as quickly as possible. After a while, you'll know without thinking about it how hot the fire is: high, medium-high, etc. But until then, you can use the time tested method of holding your hand a few inches — about four — above the grate and seeing how long you can keep it there. I know it sounds a little dangerous, but you'll pull your hand back at just the right moment (high: 2 counts; medium-high: 4 counts; medium: 6 counts; medium-low: 8 counts; low: 10 counts).
3. Don't play with your food.
The more you touch the food on the grill, the more it will stick and begin to fall apart. Brush your burgers, fish and vegetables with oil, season with salt and pepper and place on a hot grill. Don't touch it for at least two minutes! It needs to form a crust so that it can naturally pull away from the grill. If you begin to turn it before the crust has formed, it will stick.
Michael's Grilling Tips:
1. Never forget to season the meat.
If you have the time, season the meat liberally with salt the night before.
2. Know the difference between barbecuing and grilling.
Barbecuing is technically low and slow, while grilling is high and quick. When grilling, start the meat on a very high heat to give it that good char before finishing it on a low heat, so it doesn't burn or dry out. When barbecuing, keep the meat on a low heat, about 225°F, until it's tender.
3. Grill indoors year-round with cast iron.
When it's cold outside, this is your only hope at getting that char and sear on the outside of the meat that you get in the summer.
Taco 'bout Competition
I love this recipe because it brings a steakhouse-style flavor to meaty tacos. Topping the spiced steak with blue cheese is an unexpected but delicious addition to this dish.
These tostadas serve up some serious crunch. The crispy blue corn tortillas get topped with fresh cabbage slaw, spicy tomato salsa and grilled shrimp giving them a ton of flavor and terrific texture.
The Steaks are High
I love this recipe because the steak is smoky and savory while the salad is bright and fresh. It's exactly how I like to eat in the summer!
I love the beefy flavor of skirt steak. It is best grilled and can stand up to strong flavors such as cumin and chile powders. Also, the salad is packed with super summery ingredients like tomatoes, fresh corn, ripe avocados and lots of fresh fine herbs.