How to Grill in Urban Areas
This summer, those of us who live in urban areas are taking full advantage of our long summer nights - and we’re also redefining the classic suburban backyard party. Sure, most of us really crave that backyard space to fire up the grill and host late-into-the-evening parties filled with good food and lots of laughs. The reality of the situation is, most of us in urban spaces simply don’t have that space. But that doesn’t mean we have to miss out on hosting the ultimate cookout.
There are many ways to enjoy fresh, melt-off-the-bone meats this summer in your small space. With the help of new (and classic) gadgets like portable charcoal grills, indoor electric griddles, and your classic stovetop grill pans, you can be the life of the party despite your summer picturesque looking a bit different than the classic poolside bash. And, it matters what you lay down on the grill this summer - it would be a shame to get the grill ready only to sling hotdogs and hamburgers all summer, wouldn’t it? Keep reading for some great tips for us urban grill masters!
Portable Charcoal Grills
If you’re hoping to still get outside and enjoy the fresh air and open feel of classic barbeques, your best bet is to invest in a portable charcoal grill. Ideally, you will opt for a charcoal grill, as they not only add that smokey flavor to your meat that we all know and love, but oftentimes charcoal grills are smaller and better for tight spaces. Therefore, this is the ideal option if you’re grilling out on your balcony or even by your apartment pool or common space.
And for those of us using charcoal grills in urban areas, perhaps it’s only appropriate to throw a New York Strip or two on the grill. As these particular cuts are leaner than some other steaks, the flavor of the charcoal will really beef up (excuse the pun) your NY strip and add some high-depth flavoring. Want something even leaner? Throw some chicken breasts over the charcoal to give them those nice, clean grill lines and a pop of flavor that’s simultaneously healthy and delicious.
Indoor Electric Griddles
If you’re not too big on the idea of clearing charcoals or scrubbing a grill with a wire brush, a great option is an indoor electric griddle made by the likes of, you guessed it, George Foreman or even Hamilton Beach. These little griddles are understated powerhouses that aren’t just good for the breakfasts in your college dorm room. Griddles are a great choice for a variety of meats including well-marbled and juicy ribeye steaks that strike the perfect balance between semi-trim and flavorful. I recommend these marbled cuts as most griddles come with a run-off catcher for excess fats and juices which can then be easily poured into the trash (or even saved for future frying).
Of course, if you’re not a big red meat eater - and sometimes hot summer nights call for lighter fare - don’t rule out items like Sockeye salmon which can be seasoned from chives to parsley to tarragon to sage, opening up a world of flavors over which many tend to skip when thinking about their next meal. The best part? Griddles tend to keep the full flavor of the fish intact, and without any charcoal, you’ll retain that rich full-mouth feel.
Classic Stovetop Grills
At the end of the day, one of the best options out there is to simply cook your meat on a classic grill pan. These sorts of pans can come in a variety of styles, with the most popular being a griddle-style pan (without the electricity). Some popular cuts of steak - like Filet Mignon - have been pan-fried in a stove-top skillet, and smaller cuts don’t necessarily require oven time, especially if you lean rarer in your preferences.
Pan skillets can be great options for seafood as well, especially Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp, which can be easily added to any stir fry, pasta dish, or skewer to throw in lighter tastes among tender beef cuts. And, in seafood that may be DHA-rich but iron-poor, cooking with cast iron can add the much-needed nutrient to any dish without compromising taste or texture. Although this iron addition is minimal, every bit counts, and with a few drops of oil and a dish rag, these skillets are easy to clean and store.
And let’s not forget - many public parks (including national parks), as well as apartment complexes, provide free grilles for your summer picnics. Use them! Most of these grilles are charcoal-based and simply require that you bring your own charcoal. When using these public grills, think of slinging more “portable” meats like burgers or organic ground turkey for a healthier take on the traditional burger that the whole family will love.
Of course, in this summer heat, don’t forget to ensure your grille is totally snuffed out before calling it a night - we want to make sure we’re keeping our public parks fire-free and available for all!
Explore Your Possibilities!
No matter where our summer cookout takes place, be it on an apartment balcony, in the kitchen, or in a public space, we want to ensure that we’re feeding our family, friends, and loved ones high-quality, delicious cuts that simultaneously don’t compromise flavor for health.
It can be hard slogging through grocery store shelves to decide what, exactly, is considered “healthy” especially with all the competing messaging thrown our way. The biggest things to look out for are third-party approved cuts that are free from antibiotics and hormones, and when it comes to seafood, you want to ensure that your products are low in mercury and approved by Marine Stewardship Council. Yes, that’s a lot…
But thankfully, with the help of companies like Rastelli’s that are at the forefront of sustainable and healthy meat options, you can rest assured that your cuts - no matter your flavor pallet - are grown from fair-wage farms and are free from nasty, unnecessary additives. With their wide selection and various price points, you’re sure to find something new for your cookout.