Quick Tips for Grilling Tough Cuts of Meat

Cooking How-To, Fall, Featured Article, How-To, In Season, Summer
on July 21, 2015
Greek Marinade
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

This article from Honest Cooking was republished with permission and originally appeared as Quick BBQ Tips for Tough Cuts from Chef Victor Aravena.

Don’t be afraid to try out a cheaper cut! They do take a bit more time and finesse than the more common cuts used for grilling, but patience is paramount. Those cheaper cuts tend to be tough, so cooking low and slow or marinating them to break down the tough muscle is key. Brush up on these tips from grill master Victor Aravena.

Tip 1: Indirect Heat

If you have a gas grill use the burners to the left or right and put the meat on the opposite side; with a charcoal grill, just push the hot coals to one side and place the meat on the other. This will allow for a slower cooking temperature, which will help render down some of the collagen that cheaper cuts of meat tend to have. Just close the lid and it will create an oven-like effect, just like slow-roasting.

If you’re in a big rush, you can bake things in your oven for a few hours at a low temp, about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, before your guests arrive. Then, when you’re about ready to eat, just throw the meat on the grill for a quick sear and some delicious smokey taste, add an optional glazing of sauce, and you will be good to go! I generally use this technique with bone-in cuts only, like ribs.

Tip 2: Marinating

There are a lot of ingredients that you can use to help tenderize your cuts of meat. Colas helps break down the collagen and make meat tender and juicy. Dr. Pepper is a great addition to marinades that will give you some great flavor in your steaks, as are citrus-based marinades. Also try acidic dairies like Greek yogurt or buttermilk. Simple citrus marinades work well too.

Tip 3: Choosing a Cut

These are my favorite inexpensive cuts of meat that work well on a grill:

  • Lamb breast (a nice garlic, olive oil, oregano, and mint marinade tastes great)
  • Ranchers steak (also called blade steak)
  • Flat iron steak
  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Pork shoulder (ask the butcher or yourself cut it into 1 inch pieces, it’s more manageable for the grill)

Once again, the secret to all of these on the grill is low, slow and indirect heat!

For continued grill-side success, check out some of our favorite marinade recipes from the Relish.com archives below.

Korean Marinade

Korean Marinade

Latin Marinade

Latin Marinade

Greek Marinade

Greek Marinade