DinnerDork [ ˈdi-nərˈdȯrk ]

Fakin’ the smoke. Po’ smokin’. Ok, enough terms here, we’re talking about ways to achieve grill-like flavor without the grill.  I’m prefacing this with a few disclaimers:

  1. I don’t currently own a grill – thanks to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey ruining the beloved beast we used to use to serve up deliciously flamed meats and treats
  2. I live in Houston. One trip to Houston in July makes it clear that working over a hot grill in the summer sun is more akin to slave-labor than love-labor.

#FullDisclosure. So, as someone who loves grilled meats, vegetables, and fruits (mmmm grilled pineapple) – I look to these creative ways to bring the tastes of the outdoors in.

Presentation matters.

The grill lines and charred spots we associated with grilled food are our visual introduction to what we’re about to eat. You don’t have to skimp on the presentation just being you’re serving up grilled foods sans the outdoor grill. A grill pan does an excellent job of scoring your food with grill marks that give that “cooked outdoors presentation”. Even better, you can often find them for great prices at discount housewares stores.

The key to getting great grill lines is pan that’s smoking hot before you use it. Plus,  use only the smallest amount of cooking oil needed to coat your pan – you want to grill it, not fry it.  If you’re skeptical about doing all of your cooking in a grill pan, you can always cook your food to near completion in another pan, then transfer to a piping-hot grill pan to finish with grill lines before serving.

Use smoked ingredients

If you can’t be them, join them – right? Amp-up the grill-like flavor of your faux-grilled foods with smoked spices:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Smoked garlic
  • Smoked sea salt

And, don’t forget the king of “faking-it” – good ole liquid smoke. The key is to be sparing with the liquid smoke and consider using it in your marinade, but not in any spices or sauces you use while cooking.

Sauce is the boss

Don’t forget the sauce. Baste it on your food while it’s cooking and serve it up on the table while eating. You can even add a bit of  smoked sea salt to your sauce just before serving – just be sure to account for this while cooking and hold back an equal amount of salt in earlier steps.

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A word from some of our home cooks...

I love that DinnerDork changed our lives. No more grabbing random take-out, or trying to cook boring food. Now my husband and I look forward to cooking and eating together. We love it!

Allison Martin

There’s a week full of dinner menus, and a shopping list that tells me exactly where to find each item in the store. The recipe instructions are easy to follow. I just log in and shop from the list on my phone, then log in and make dinner from the recipes each night.

Austin Davis

The food is so good! I’ve tried so many foods and food pairings that I wouldn’t have tried on my own. I’m becoming the foodie I’ve always wanted to be, except that it’s so simple – all of the hard work is done for me.

Becca Strywicski

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