Some people might think of a barbecue press as a one-trick pony. While the tool is undoubtedly ideal for crushing burgers and checking out steaks, there are many different ways to utilize a grill press – and you’ll want to invest in one this summer.
Also known as a steak weight, the grill press is a cast iron tool that can take your summer picnic (or breakfast or lunch ……) to the next level. On top of that, it’s a great way to get the perfect grill on your panini, roast your vegetables to perfection and finally unravel the bacon for your next brunch.
How to Make the Perfect Smash Burger
But let’s start with one of its most common uses: burgers. If anyone knows how to perfect a burger using a grill press, it’s Chef Ty Goerke of the restaurant chain Smashburger, and he’s more than happy to share his best practices. He says starting with a hot cooking surface of about 375 to 400 degrees is a must.
You’ll also need to heat the press on the cooking surface or burner for about 10 minutes. Then put some unsalted butter on the grill, Goerke says, which adds flavor and helps the meat release a bit from the surface.
When shaping ground beef patties, Goerke recommends mixing Angus and brisket together. It has nothing to do with the grade of beef and nothing to do with the ratio of fat to lean meat. Since you want these burgers to be juicy and flavorful, he recommends going with 75-80% fat. “Anything leaner will lend itself to a drier or harder burger,” he says. Of course, if turkey or black bean burgers are more your speed, they still work for a grill press, too. It may also help to use a barbecue press with an edge, which helps contain the patties as they’re crushed.
Form ground beef into loosely packed patties to help their spreadability after crushing. Place the patties on a hot surface a second time, press them on top with a grill and season them well with salt and pepper (and other seasonings of your choice).
“Once it starts to penetrate, it absorbs the seasonings and dissolves them, then melts the whole season into the burger,” Goerke says. “So by getting an even thickness, we can achieve even cooking, which helps bring all the flavors and seasons back into the burger.” Flip your burger – just once! — top it with cheese and you’re done.
Other meats you can use with the grill press
But the grill press is a versatile tool for more than just burgers. todd Ginsburg is an Atlanta chef and one of the brains behind Rye restaurants, which include concepts such as the sandwich joint Fred’s Meat & Bread and the barbecue spot Wood’s Chapel-. He uses barbecue presses in all of these restaurants. “When you use those weights, you get a more consistent golden crispness, texture and color,” he says.
Spatchcock chicken is one of Ginsburg’s favorite dishes to make with the barbecue press. He usually heats the pan on high heat and heats some oil (think grapeseed for its high smoke point), then places the chicken in the pan, skin side down.
“When you put the chicken in the pan, you weigh it. Then you’re going to turn your pan down to medium, medium height so it’s slightly golden brown on the outside,” Ginsberg says. Then he’ll place the pan in a 450-degree oven on the lowest rack for about 17 minutes, then remove it, unweight it, turn the chicken over and cook it for another minute or so.
The barbecue press is also a breakfast champion. ginsburg uses this tool for crispy pastrami in his deli concept The General Muir, which he says is a great way to keep bacon flat while cooking. Simply place it on top of the bacon while it cooks in your pan, and you’ll soon have evenly cooked breakfast meat (bonus points for reducing splatter, too).
Use the grill to press sandwiches, vegetables and fruits
Your summer fruits and vegetables can also get a boost from a grill press. Bruce Hill, a chef and inventor of the Chef’s Press, is a strong supporter of using grill presses on vegetables. Just as some proteins need to stay flat when cooking to allow for even charring, so do some vegetables. Hill likes to use it on asparagus, which is thicker on one side than the other and therefore tends to cook unevenly. Pineapple, sliced onion rings, peppers and Dutch beans can also benefit from using a grill press.
“Cauliflower is another one that is very, very good because cauliflower is very dense. It needs some weight to hold it up,” Hill says. “We always like to recommend cauliflower steaks to people who are grilling.”
To prepare a cauliflower steak using a grill press, cut it through the core into about 4 pieces. Coat them in a thin layer of olive oil and season them with your choice of spices. Then place the cauliflower on a hot cooking surface and place a heavy weight on top to help it cook evenly.
Hill actually invented his grill press to cook grilled cheese sandwiches. “Any sandwich you want to grill outside, the Chef’s Press is great because you get a nice even browning,” he says.
If the sandwich is delicate, all you need is a grill press. Larger, heartier sandwiches may require an additional press to increase the pressure. On Instagram, for example, food content creator Owen Han makes a bresaola sandwich on a baguette. He placed the inside of the baguette on a pan and toasted the inside using a Chef’s Press before assembling the sandwich.
Of course, you can do this at home with any grill press and use any fillings you want.