At Bedford Post Inn’s Farmhouse at Bedford Post (954 Old Bedford Post Rd, Bedford 914-234-7800, bedfordpostinn.com/farmhouse), Chef Jeremy McMillan gives grilling a make-under, going back to “primitive” and “old-school” traditions and techniques, like burning wood to make coals, and firing up stones to create heat sources to grill meats, vegetables, and fish. In Farmhouse’s Global Grilling series, every other Sunday Chef Jeremy picks different countries from around the world and serves a four-course, prix-fixe “grilled” menu inspired by the region, from Argentinian parrilla to Basque pincho.
When you grill at home, McMillan thinks that the old-fashioned way is the best way. “You might as well sear a steak in a pan than on a propane grill,” he says. “My favorite part of grilling is smelling like roasted marshmallows from a camp fire.” McMillan explains that it’s simple and easy to convert your propane grill into a “better” grill. All you have to do is buy a stainless-steel gas grill smoker box. This will safely add the savory smoke to the grill and impart flavor to your food.
When it comes to the techniques, McMillan is very specific on how to cook meat, fish, and vegetables. Whether it’s lamb, beef, pork, or duck, he advises starting your meat at the highest rack your grill has—like that hot-dog bun warmer that is hardly ever used. “This way, your meat is tempered by the heat, and partially smoked,” he says.
Let the meat cook there until it’s almost at the point of doneness. At the last minute, sear it directly on the grill at medium-high heat. For fish, a rule of thumb is the smaller the fish, the higher the heat. Small brook trout will take minutes to cook because they are thin with little meat. Salmon, on the other hand, requires a lower heat to avoid burning the exterior, but also to penetrate the flesh to be cooked. McMillan also recommends using whole fish instead of fillets. This makes for more flavor, and keeps the fish a bit more moist.
Vegetables are easy. Light the grill on medium-high and grill until charred. “You can also put vegetables directly in the ashes of the coals,” McMillan says. “Vegetables like onions, large rutabagas, celery root, and beets just need to be cleaned off. Once you peel off the hard, ashy shell, the deep, dense pulp of the vegetable is exposed, and the flavor is concentrated.”
Whether you’re looking for an elegant night of at-home dining or some quick noshes for an upcoming get-together with friends, your best bets for a brag-worthy menu start with the vast selections of freshness and quality found at a local farmers’ market, which, in summertime, burst with a fresh-from-the-earth bounty. But what to choose? Local chefs divulge their favorite farmers’-market finds.
“Me and my wife, Cathy, love the escarole found at the Pleasantville Farmers Market. It is tender and flavorful with a perfect combination of both a slightly bitter and slightly sweet taste. We gently braise chopped pieces of the vegetable in oil with big, roasted cloves of garlic and, sometimes, for a more enhanced flavor, add aged cheeses.” —Phil McGrath, Iron Horse Grill, Pleasantville
“I love the fresh corn at the White Plains Farmers’ Market. I remove the kernels from the ears and use them to make succotash and in all types of salads. With the stripped ears, I make corn stock to use during the winter months for corn chowders.” —Jennifer Urda, The Runcible Spoon Personal Chef Service, White Plains
“I go to the Larchmont Farmers Market and usually buy some great sourdough baguettes from Plates’ head chef, Matthew Karp. I also stop by Larchmont vendor Lani’s Farm, for the incredibly delicious tomatoes and fresh basil. I try to keep it simple at home, throwing together the perfect bruschetta.” —Chris Vergara, Meritage Restaurant, Scarsdale
“I love stopping into a local farmers’ market, The Country Farmer, in North Salem for any new items I may need for a dish that I plan to prepare. Recently, I was looking to try a new recipe that I based around some gorgeous sun-ripened Roma tomatoes I found at the market. With some fresh organic spinach, a pound and a half of the tomatoes, some bits of fresh garlic, and some fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, I made the perfect pasta dish that tasted as though one was dining in Rome.” —Antony Ballard, personal chef, North Salem
“My favorite items to buy include the wonderfully fresh Romanesco broccoli and purslane found at the Ossining Farmers Market. With the purslane, brought from Taliaferro Farms in New Paltz, I create a splendidly seasonal salad, perfect for the spring and summer months. For the Romanesco broccoli, brought by Mead Orchards, I usually gratinate it with bread crumbs, olive oil, golden raisins and lemon zest for a delicious romesco.” —Jill Rose, Chiboust Bistro, Tarrytown