How to Master Meat: Chef Tim Love's Tips and Advice for a Scorching July 4th Cookout

Hear from Chef Tim Love, a judge on Chopped Grill Masters, for his hot new grilling tips just in time for the 4th of July.
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Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to manning the grill, Tim Love, a longtime chef and restaurateur, is all business. This born-and-bred Texan is known for his expert preparation of meat, fusing together classic Western flavors with modern ingredients and flavors. On the all-new summertime tournament Chopped Grill Masters ( premiering July 14 at 10|9c), Love will takes his place among the roster of esteemed Chopped judges as a master of meat as he oversee the 16 grilling professionals who are trying to wow the panel with worthy barbecue fare.

Just in time for this weekend's 4th of July party, FN Dish caught up with Tim, who's also teamed up with Hellmann's Mayonnaise, which is celebrating a brand-new squeeze bottle, for his take on how to win the holiday cookout scene. From make-ahead favorites to his all-time favorite meat to grill, read on below to hear from Tim in an exclusive interview.

Come grilling season, which dish are you most looking forward to making every year? What do you crave most?

Tim Love: Nothing says summer like kebabs on the grill. There is just something about cubes of beef and veggies stuck on a stick over a flaming grill that makes me giddy. My go-to is Rosemary Steak Kebabs, because you can use the rosemary branches for skewers so it adds to the flavor.

Looking ahead to the 4th of July, do you have any tips for people who want to get a jump-start on grilling before the party begins? What dishes can be made ahead of time?

TL: Just like you preheat your oven, you should fire up your grill 30 to 45 minutes before you start grilling. If the grill isn’t hot, your food will sit too long and it will be overcooked and dried-out — not to mention, it eliminates any chance of creating those flavorful sear marks. Those marks are actually pockets for sugars in your food to caramelize for that delicious smoky grilled flavor we all love.

I like to prep a nice Roast Corn Avocado Relish. Roast corn ears over your hot grill, cut it off the cob and mix with some lemon juice, olive oil, diced avocados, red onion, chopped cilantro, [and] some diced red and jalapeno peppers, and season with some kosher salt. Always a crowd-pleaser!

What's on your 4th of July cookout menu?

TL: My burger dogs, which you can probably guess are hot dog-shaped burgers, are a big hit with my kids. I mix sirloin steak tips with beef brisket, then serve on a hot dog bun, and my kids love adding all the fixings and a squeeze of none other than America’s favorite condiment, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. A lot of people ask me why as a chef I don’t make my own mayo. It’s simple: For me, it’s all about using quality ingredients that make food tastes its best, and Hellmann’s does that. Their mayo is made with quality oils and vinegar, and also cage-free eggs. Why change something that doesn’t need fixing? What I am glad they fixed is their squeeze bottle! It was a battle trying to get the mayo out of the bottle — the new bottle makes it easier to squeeze more out and makes sure none of the good stuff goes to waste.

What's the best nontraditional way to use mayonnaise?

TL: Mixing some Hellmann’s Mayonnaise into the ground beef when prepping your burger patties will change your life. The mayonnaise helps to lock in moisture as the burger cooks on the grill, so you get a juicy, delicious burger every time.

Fill in the blank: When it comes to a perfect piece of grilled meat, there can never be too much _____.

TL: When it comes to a perfect piece of grilled meat, there can never be too much marbling. That’s what gives you flavor and moisture. When you’re picking out meat, ask your butcher to cut the meat so you can see the inside, because what really counts is the interior marbling.

What do you think is the most-underrated piece of meat to grill? Why?

TL: Outside skirt steak. It’s reasonably priced and really easy to grill. Use peanut oil, salt and pepper, and pair it with some nice grilled zucchini and creamy basil pesto dipping sauce. It’s one of my wife’s favorite meals.

Looking ahead to Chopped Grill Masters, if you could tell the chefs one key of grilling know-how, given your years of experience, what would it be?

TL: Don’t take shortcuts. Grilling isn’t a science, it’s an art … and a little trial by fire — literally. The process is everything.

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