Growing up in the suburbs, my family used the outdoor grill for practically every meal in the summertime. So this time of year, right around Labor Day, I get really psyched for the last days of summer grilling.
But having just recently moved into the city, I’ve run into a problem that I didn’t foresee: how is a city dweller like me expected to satisfy his appetite for outdoor grilling in a small apartment?! As a determined griller, I sought out a few solutions for how to make your summer grilling favorites when living in a small urban space.
Rooftops, Patios, and Parks, Oh My!
The first step was admitting: admitting the fact that there simply is no perfect replacement for a big outdoor grill. Fortunately, odds are that someone you know in the city resides in an apartment with a grill either on the roof or on a patio. I was surprised to find this out just by asking a few friends. Offer to make them dinner one night, but secretly be using them to fulfill your grilling dreams! If you can’t find anyone on your contact list who has access to a grill, you may find some of the parks are open for barbecuing, but you might have to bring your own charcoal.
I was fortunate to have a friend who lived on the same street as me with a patio grill (we are now best friends). We cooked up FreshDirect’s bison burgers. It was just like suburban grilling, but with food that probably isn’t as easy to find out in the country. Bison is leaner than most beef, so the key is to cook it slow and low so that it retains some juiciness but cooks all the way through. I chose not to do anything too fancy with my burgers because I wanted to experience the bison taste, so I just threw on some tomatoes, lettuce, and onion. Classic!
A Cast-Iron Grill Pan
One of the easiest grill replacements that will still give you the quintessential “grill marks” is a cast-iron grill pan. No kitchen is complete without one, and they are a great investment even if you own an outdoor grill, since you can easily use them in any weather and, if well-maintained, will last you a lifetime.
I tried out some of FreshDirect’s swordfishon my grill pan. I think swordfish is best cooked grilled, as it’s pretty much like a steak that comes from the ocean. I soaked the steaks for a half-hour in a cilantro-lime marinade that I whipped up, then seared them in the grill pan. Leave it a little rare in the middle and be sure not to overcook it.
Veggie Burgers in the Oven
Some types of burgers actually work out best in the oven, as is the case with FreshDirect’s Ultimate Veggie Burger. You won’t get those beautiful grill marks, but who cares when you’re just sticking it on a bun anyway?
Preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the plastic covers, but keep the burgers in the black cups. Cook them for 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown, then take them out and throw them on a bun with your favorite toppings. These burgers can tend to be a little crumbly, but you won’t care once you taste them. Best veggie burgers you can make at home, and easy as 20 minutes in the oven!
Grass-Fed Beef on a George Foreman Grill
A final alternative to standard grilling, and perfect for a small apartment, is an electrically-heated counter-top grill, like the George Foreman. These grills are great for convenience and flexibility. Grilling is quick and easy because of the clamshell design that allows you to heats both sides simultaneously. And yes–you still get those precious grill marks!
While normally I default to a grilled cheese on the electric grill, I tried to spice it up with a juicy beef burger from FreshDirect’s line of grass-fed beef products. I like to load my beef burgers up with lots of tasty toppings, like barbecue and chipotle aioli sauce (mayo, chipotle hot sauce, lime, chives). You can even throw the buns on the grill and toast them to perfection before putting your burger on.
Hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for grilling, especially if you live in the city and have to go out of your way to do so. Check out FreshDirect’s Grillfest picks this week, and get in the spirit of grilling while it still feels like summer!