Written by: Sam the Cooking Guy “Hey Sam, what do you like to marinate a steak with?” I get asked that all the time. It seems as if there’s a desire to complicate things at the grill, especially when it comes to beef - and frankly I just don’t get it. Unlike cooking in an oven or on the stove, part of the beauty of a grill (especially a charcoal one) is that the flavors are naturally enhanced by the cooking process itself. When something cooks in an oven and fat drips off – nothing happens (apart from the food now sitting in it’s own fat). But when you cook on a grill and the fat drips – everything happens! The fat hits the grill briquettes or charcoals, flares up and sends the most fantastic grill-filled smoke and flames back up to the food. That’s where the flavor comes from. And when you start adding a ton of other flavors, you mask or completely hide that wonderfulness. So here’s my suggestion. Buy great beef, or fish, or poultry and try seasoning only with Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper (check out my previous blog Salt & Pepper). That’s it. But don’t be afraid to season liberally, because even a modestly thick steak will need it. Then cook your food and bring it off the grill. At this point with beef, I do nothing more than let it rest. But fish or poultry I’ll sometimes add a squeeze or two of fresh citrus – especially lemon or lime. A little acid from the citrus can really boost the flavors. Then if you’re still starved for a sauce of some kind, maybe add a little to the side for dipping. But trust me - great ingredients don’t need much more than a little seasoning. Ok, one last thing. For those who MUST add a sweet sauce to the grilling food, do it in the final minutes of cooking. Adding a sugar-based sauce too early will only encourage flames and possibly char up the outside before the inside is done. And no one wants that.