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Covering proteins while grilling

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
chef keeps telling me that when i grill chicken, beef or fish on the grill and cover it with a saute pan/hot plate that it steams the protein and then it will dry out. Is he right?
semi chef
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semi chef
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post #2 of 14
Are you cooking on a "grill" or a "griddle"?

Why would you "want" to cover it?
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am grilling, 1 to cook faster and 2 promote caramelization
semi chef
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semi chef
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post #4 of 14
proteins are "strands" of "schufft.

when heated they curl up / contract - you've noticed that "meat shrinks" I'm sure.

when over heated proteins curl up so tight the moisture is squeezed out of 'the thing'

the thing could be a roast, a chop, a chicken leg, an egg (rubberized eggs anyone?) and the cookee piece goes dry.

note that 'over heated' is a dynamic thing - a three inch thick steak on an 800'F grill can 'overheat' on the outside before the inside is past cold&bloody.

so.... in a generality it is not strictly the 'technique' but more 'the execution'
post #5 of 14
If your "grill" is "hot", I fail to see why covering would speed things up. I would think the "cover" defeats the intent of "grilling".

And perhaps I've been misguided, but I think "trapped moisture" retards caramelization rather than enhancing it.
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #6 of 14
In my humble experience with an old "el cheapo" gas grill that can never get hot enough, covering does speed up the cooking, and it does help with caramelisation, creating hot air around the chicken, and "exciting" the flames which now lick the pieces of chicken.

However, I agree once you close the lid of your grill, it's no longer "pure" grilling. You're grilling/roasting and creating steam.

But when you're in a hurry, it works just fine and the chicken still tastes delicious.
post #7 of 14
Whether its a grittle or grill....it's perfectly acceptable to top or cap a protien.
Yes it definitely speeds up the cooking process. Can it dry or toughen the protien...?....only if you overcook it......I have used lids for years.....in some circumstances you have to find alternate ways to increase speed of preparation....I find, that for mid wells and wells....fish, chicken, beef, or pork...it allows you to finish the protien on the grill with out going to the oven, which may, or may not be, close to you station....another time savor.....another example is cedar plank salmon.....with the lid....you create a mini smoker....making for a superior end product....at the end of the day....don't
fight the chef on it.....it will serve no purpose at all.....go with the flow brother.
post #8 of 14
It's really application specific. Depends on how hot the grill is. The grill needs to be the right temperature so that the searing of the flesh on the grill coincides with finishing of the cooking on the inside of the meat. If the grill is too cold the outside will not be seared by the time the inside is finished cooking.

I would have to agree that covering grilling meat shouldn't be necessary. The point of a grill, a gas grill, is to have a super high dry heat. The meat should only be flipped once and rotated for grill marks twice. Don't play with your meat.

I cover when I BBQ and smoke, but that is to achieve a different effect.

If your not getting the food up in time and your firing it when it's called, that's not your fault. Your chef is overlooking the line, perhaps because he is too busy worrying about inventory or something. You will need to discuss with him and the expediter timing strategy so that your food is cooking at the right temperatures and coming up on time. If they don't help you with that, then find yourself another chef to learn from. You might as well be working at McDonald's.

If the problem is they are calling the food and your missing the calls, then you will need to be able to read the tickets. In my kitchen everybody gets a copy of the ticket. A lot of chefs are to *HOT* and special to let their crew read the tickets. But, I figure that if a cook doesn't need to read a ticket then he or she won't. I call them off all the same.
The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
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The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
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post #9 of 14
Some good points as well as assumptions in there.
First and foremost your grill has to be set at the "right" temperature.
The problem with that is that a 4oz boneless chicken breast is going to cook faster than a 12oz filet mignon.
The way around this is to have different temps on your grill, not the same temp across the whole thing.
Even then you may have to put something on the "less hot" side and still cover it.
I'd prefer covering over pressing.

Your chef may be ignoring the line, or may be too HOT, but that sounds more like personal baggage than constructive input.

I do agree that your first recourse is to discuss this in more detail with your chef.
They, and only they, are the one who is going to be able to explain what they want.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #10 of 14
Yes, in the past I have worked for some jerk chefs who made sure that no matter what I did it was done wrong. For the record and to make myself feel a little better, I now work for a private family, travel all around the world in luxury, and perhaps make a lot more than they do today.

Now that I've shored up my ego a little, I'll try to get my personal baggage back into the closet next to all the skeletons in there. :)

The last time I had to refer to a chef in the first person possessive (my chef) was about nine year ago. But, yes I'm greatly aggravated when I can't read the tickets and when chefs are out of touch with the line. I can't tell you how many chefs and owners believed all their thoughts are good thoughts just because they thought them.

As a chef there is a litmus test for your own performance -- do you have to keep hiring new people? People don't enjoy moving from place to place and job to job so the tendency is to stay put. If your having a high turn over, then it might not be because you can't find good cooks in your area. Rather the problem might be with the design of the cooking line -- one of a million reasons that cause stress in a kitchen. For example, making the tickets available for all the cooks for reference speeds the process up and helps prevent mistakes of items not being fired or the wrong items being fired.

The person who started this forum had a dilemma. The chef he works for wants two things. First, he wants the food to be uncovered while cooking and second (this is an assumption here) he wants the food plated and cooked faster. I'm just saying that if the cook is doing the best he can the problem might not be him but the way the line designed and the timing of expeditor. Perhaps, the problem isn't whether covering items on the grill makes a differnce. I'm just reading to deep into the problem.

As for coverning meat, its a style of cooking. There is no right or wrong. Covering and not covering yields two different results. When food is not covered the top side doesn't start cooking until the meat is flipped. If it was covered, the meat does steam and the top side does start the cooking process so that when it is flipped it's got a head start. Now this will lead to less of a sear. I don't like to cover meat on the grill, unless it is huge.

I use a press for split chicken. Veal and filet I mark on the grill and finish is a medium to slow oven (sometimes and sometimes not). I rarely cover fish except for swordfish. All different protiens require different techniques for different results for different dishes and recipes. There is no one way.
The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
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The Yacht Chef Network http://thechefsgalley.com
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post #11 of 14
In that respect I take no issue with your comment, because that might in fact be true.
Might.

But you stated it more definitively:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #12 of 14
Please, no nitpicking about whose fault it is here that the food is not up in time. I'd ask you to put a lid on it but that might be misinterpreted! :lol:
post #13 of 14
That's cool.
I think we've covered everything.
:bounce:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #14 of 14
My best advice on this from experience, just stop covering it. It isn't worth angering your chef, even if it is faster and better, the chef is the boss, and you are best off just to do what they ask.
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