Get ready for summer with these top grilling tips from Tom Booton, head chef of The Grill at The Dorchester
Words: Calum Donoghue
Now head chef at The Grill at The Dorchester, Essex-born Tom Booton’s career began at Le Talbooth, Dedham when he was just 15. Having worked in the best restaurants in London, New York, Copenhagen and Iceland, Tom has found home at The Grill, where he transformed the 90-year-old restaurant. As we see the first signs of summer, here are Tom’s top tips for grilling at home.
The first thing to do is make sure you give enough time for your coals to heat up so light the briquettes at least one hour before you expect to grill. You want to avoid grilling over a direct flame as this can cause inconsistent temperature so make sure you take your time.
I would encourage you to find a local butcher or meat supplier to deliver top quality cuts as this will get you the best flavour. Make sure you season your meat well with sea salt and ground black pepper, at least one or two hours before you start to grill. This will really help the flavours to soak into the meat. Rub your meat with a little oil before you start to grill.
Once seasoned, take the meat out of the fridge and allow the meat to come to room temperature before you place on the grill, this will help to minimize overcooking of the outside of the meat. When you begin to cook start with meats that will naturally take longer to cook. Start cooking your meat on high heat first to sear in all the juices and try not to move the meat around. With steak, cook with olive oil and turn every minute until cooked to how you like it. Throw in some garlic and thyme whilst cooking to ramp up the flavours, and you can always add some butter a few minutes in. Don’t be afraid to use a timer if cooking medium rare. Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes after you take it off of the grill. You want the meat to relax a little after grilling which will help stop the juices running out when you cut into it. My top tip for cooking chicken is marinating a whole chicken the day before. Ask your butcher to spatchcock your chicken, and leave the chicken in the marinade overnight or at least a couple of hours. For my marinade I use 200ml olive oil, 3 garlic cloves (grated), zest and juice of 2 lemons, ¼ bunch rosemary (or teaspoon dried), ¼ bunch thyme (or teaspoon dried), 1 teaspoon Paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon English mustard and 20g honey. Cook the chicken on the BBQ skin side down for 30-40minutes, being careful not to burn the chicken. Leave to rest for at least 10mins before serving. Chicken juices will run clear when the chicken is cooked. One of London’s finest young chefs, Tom leads his personal interpretation of a modern-day British grill with signature dishes including homemade stout bread, prawn Scotch egg and The Grill’s lobster thermidor tart. The Grill is a must-book restaurant.