Grilling advice from across the state.
Illustration by Kelly Alder
Illustration by Kelly Alder
You’re an alpha male without a hobby. You could remodel the kitchen, but you decide to become a badass grillmaster instead. The easy part was dropping $10K on a monster outdoor cooking machine—150,000 BTUs, angled halogen internal oven lamps, 4-zone backlit digital meat thermometer, a woodchip smoker drawer with a dedicated power supply, fully welded steel construction and 1,100 square inches of cooking area. Did we mention the built-in fridge and Brazilian walnut surfaces? Problem is, you’ve never picked up a spatula before. Let us help: We grilled the state’s finest purveyors of beef and fish for their recommendations on this ancient summertime art.
What to Grill?
Most recommended meat: ribeye and hanger steaks. Cheryl Furlow, of The Organic Butcher in McLean, says the hanger is “unattractive and people don’t give it a shot.” But season it with her shop’s ginger soy marinade or just salt and pepper, and the red-headed stepchild of steak becomes a summer meal ideal.
Most recommended seafood: tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi, salmon and ... soft shell crabs? Absolutely. John Leary of the south Arlington-based M. Slavin & Sons Fish, which supplies fish to the Inn at Little Washington and, occasionally the White House, makes another recommendation. “Halibut is going to be great all summer. Also red snapper and rockfish—I understand they call it rockfish down here—but it is wild striped bass.”
The Marinade Dilemma
Most recommended marinade, For meat or seafood: none at all—just salt, pepper and olive oil.
“If you have quality meat, it doesn’t need marinade.” —Tanya Cauthen, owner, Belmont Butchery, Richmond
“Don’t mask the flavor.” —Justin Severino, The Home Farm Store at Ayrshire Farm, Middleburg
“If you’re gonna pay the money for quality fish, you want to taste the natural flavor of the fish, not the three-dollar dressing you bought at the grocery store. Instead, go minimal; just add some herbs, lemon zest, sea salt and ground fresh pepper. And make sure to do your citrus after the fish is cooked. Otherwise, the flavor will be lost.” —David Booth, chef and manager, Yellow Umbrella Fresh Seafood, Richmond
The Super-Secret Rosemary Twig Twist
“I am the grilling king!” says Richard Welton, of Welton’s Fresh Seafood Market in Virginia Beach. And we just about believe him, based on a trick he shared with us: Slice a salmon filet down the middle and tuck in a rosemary twig (sans leaves) and a bit of olive oil. After grilling, remove the twig. The fish is still deliciously salmony, but with a surprising twist. “Nobody can see any seasoning on it,” says Welton. “They don’t know where the flavor is coming from.”
Exotica on the Barbie
In addition to the usual staples for the grill, butchers also offer options for more adventurous palates, including ostrich, buffalo, alligator, venison, lamb kidneys—and kangaroo? It’s surprisingly popular. Aussie transplant Steve Gatward, who owns Let’s Meat on the Avenue, in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, describes kangaroo meat as “a cross between venison and buffalo.” He warns that kangaroo meat has absolutely no fat and must be cooked quickly. Once customers try it, he adds, “they always come back for more.”
The People Pleaser Cuts
New York strip, says Belmont Butchery’s Cauthen, may be “the easiest choice. It’s got a flavor and texture that both filet-lovers and rib eye-lovers enjoy.”
Leary, of M. Slavin & Sons Fish, has opinions on the meat question, as well: “My [first] business was in the middle of the meat market on New York’s west side—I knew all the meat guys, and we used to trade fish and meat. I’m big on a good ribeye or a nice porterhouse, a nice big porterhouse. Always keep it on the bone.”
Belmont Butchery Richmond, 804.422.8519, BelmontButchery.com
Blue Marlin Seafood Market, Lynchburg, 434.846.1600, BMarlinSeafood.com
Country Butcher Shop and Deli, Virginia Beach, 757-468-1583, CountryButcherShopAndDeli.com
The Home Farm Store of Ayrshire Farm, Middleburg, 540.687.8882, HomeFarmStore.com
Let’s Meat on the Avenue, Del Ray, 703.836.6328 LetsMeatOnTheAvenue.com
M. Slavin & Sons Fish Arlington, 703.486.0400, MSlavin.com
The Organic Butcher of McLean 703.790.8300, TheOrganicButcher.com
Village Butcher Shop Virginia Beach, 757.422.5012, VillageButcherOfVirginiaBeach.com
Welton’s Fresh Seafood Market Virginia Beach, 757.428.6740
Yellow Umbrella Fresh Seafood Richmond, 804.282.9591