Scarpetta chef and culinary maestro Scott Conant reveals the finer points of cooking with fire.
Scott Conant’s bite-size balsamic-glazed ribs off the bone have the perfect char, paired with a spicy tomato chutney.
The mouthwatering sizzle at your next summer soirée doesn’t have to come from another pile of burgers and hot dogs. While those barbecue standbys have their place, celebrity chef Scott Conant comes equipped with a few inspired ways to raise your grill game from expected to gourmet. Here, the man behind the Fontainebleau’s Scarpetta tells Ocean Drive how to keep it simple, impress the party, and the one thing you should never throw on your barbecue.
What are you most excited to see at the fruit and vegetable stands this summer?
You never know what’s going to look the best, but I’m a huge lover of corn on the grill. That’s a good starting place.
In the husk or shucked?
I go both ways. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m into the husk and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I really appreciate the blistering of those kernels.
What’s a simple way to impress your friends?
Tomatoes. Not even grilling them as much as utilizing some of the residual heat with a vinaigrette. Think about taking the tomatoes, blistering them a touch, cutting them up, tossing them in a vinaigrette, then putting them back in a pan with that vinaigrette and warming them up slightly on a grill. [Then] put some crumbled feta over the top and finish with some greens on a platter. I don’t know what is better than that.
How can you grill like they do in Italy?
When you think about Italian cooking, you have to think about sitting in rustic Tuscany with an outdoor flame and a whole animal being brushed with a bush of rosemary. It conjures up a certain image of grilling outside, especially with a live fire. What isn’t Italian about that whole process? Identifying those fresh herbs, simple flavors, lemon, rosemary, garlic, onions—it’s a no-brainer.
Favorite piece of meat to grill?
I’m a big fan of the rotisserie attachment on a grill. One of the things I’m going to do this weekend is [grill] goat [with] a pan of potatoes underneath it and let the juices drip on top of the potatoes and some onions and garlic and herbs—there’s nothing better in the world.
What’s the one thing people should never grill?
Super-flaky fish. I’ve tried to grill halibut in the past. It’s bad news. Cod fish? Bad news. It’s a mistake you make once. All that stuff falls through, and you’re just burning it forever.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHY BY DOUG YOUNG. OPPOSITE PAGE: NICK GARCIA (CONANT); DOUG YOUNG (RIBS, HERBS)