Grill Your Way to a Perfect Memorial Day

Nothing screams Memorial Day Weekend more than firing up the grill. And nothing spoils the party more than a bad piece of meat. Admir Alibasic, the executive chef of Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse in Manhattan, is here to help. Working at the restaurant for 12 years, Alibasic knows all about preparing a world-class steak and chop. Enjoy a juicy Memorial Day Weekend meal with four of his simple grilling tips.

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Get the right cuts

Grilling and barbecuing are two different things. “Grilling is cooking at a high temperature for less time. Barbecue is cooking at a low temperature for a longer period of time,” said Alibasic. And that means there are certain meats that work better for each. Head to the local supermarket, or preferably the butcher shop, and shop for meat that can be grilled to perfection. “When trying to buy the best cut for the grill look for meat with as much scattered marbling, higher USDA grading (the higher the grade the better the meat) and tenderness.” Think rib eyes, strip steak, sirloins, filet mignon, porterhouse and T-bone steaks.

Say no to dry

The next step is avoiding a grilling nightmare: overcooked meat. That can easily be prevented by using a thermometer. Some even connect to smartphones to notify grillers when the desired temperature has been reached. But keep in mind, the temperature varies depending on the protein. Pork should be cooked to 160 degrees and poultry 165 degrees. Beef and fish depend on preference. “Personally I prefer my steaks 145 degrees, which makes for a perfect medium,” he said. “Fish is ready once it starts to flake but the meatier cuts like tuna, swordfish and marlin are enjoyable at 125 degrees.”

Ben & Jack's Steakhouse

image: ben & jack’s steakhouse

Add more to the grill 

Use the grill for more than just steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs. “Grill marks aren’t just for meat,” Alibasic explained. “They can make veggies look tastier too by adding texture.” Throw some avocados, asparagus and artichokes on the grill and wait till those marks appear. This adds some healthier options to the menu and makes for a great presentation to boot.

Use grill mats

Those expanding the cookout menu should keep grill mats around. They are ideal for cooking up flakey fish, vegetables and even pizza. “Grill mats are great for keeping ingredients from slipping through the grates,” he said. You also don’t have to worry about them sticking to the grill. Talk about an easier cleanup!

anna halkidis

anna halkidis

Anna Halkidis is a senior web editor at Long Island Pulse. Feel free to reach out at or on Twitter @annahalkidis.