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A Griller Gets Grilled


Borgna's herb-stuffed sardines.   

The Setup
Before he lit a single match, Borgna moved his Kingsford well away from anything flammable. In New York, people tend to grill in tight spaces. “Grilling generates intense vertical heat—if you’re under a tree, the leaves wilt,” he says. He put the garden hose uncoiled nearby, and suggested having a fire extinguisher on hand, “especially if you grill indoors.” Borgna lined up the raw food on a long table to one side and made sure there were separate clean platters for the cooked food. He placed salt, pepper, and a bottle fitted with a drizzling spout and filled with olive oil within easy reach. Borgna doesn’t like to drink while he cooks, but he keeps a glass of wine nearby and pretends to sip it, so that guests feel welcome to indulge.

Flay: The secret to successful grilling is to be well prepared, and Adriano seems to have thought of just about everything. There’s nothing worse than having to dash into the house every few minutes, leaving the grill unattended. Things happen very quickly, and you could have a flare-up or overcook something. Bacteria is a problem when you have raw and cooked food in close proximity. By using fresh platters to land the cooked food, Adriano ensures there’s no contamination. Salt, pepper, and olive oil, along with the tongs and spatula, should be part of your everyday grilling equipment. Some food needs to be seasoned before and while it’s grilling, and the vegetables need to be drizzled with oil when they’re right off the grill, because the pores are open to absorb it. Regarding Adriano’s wine trick, he has more self-control than I do; I’d be drinking.

The Coals
Borgna prepared the two chimney starters by stuffing newspaper into the base and filling each with charcoal. Then he opened the grill’s top grate, set one chimney on the lower grate, and lit the base. When the coals were hot, he set the second chimney on top of the first, so the rising heat would light it. After ten minutes, the coals in the bottom chimney were ready. Borgna set the second chimney on the concrete. Every fifteen minutes or so while he was cooking, he lit another chimney to be sure there were enough coals ready to keep the fire hot.

Flay: I like his chain-lighting technique; having hot charcoal prepared and handy gives you continuous cooking. If you add cold charcoal to the grill, it takes ten to fifteen minutes for the fire to come to temperature again, which can ruin any food you’re trying to sear—the surface turns gray and it gets overcooked in the middle.

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