Making perfect cross-hatch grill marks was one of the things we were tested on in culinary school. On one of my final exams, I made gorgeous hatch marks on my chicken breast — a true masterpiece. Several of us were gathered around the grill desperately trying to finish our plates on time so I was elbow to elbow with my classmates.
I gently picked up the chicken with my tongs and started moving it towards my dish… and I dropped it. My little chicken breast fell helplessly to the floor, still so juicy, so succulent. Two of my classmates stared at me in disbelief. Within nanoseconds, one of them moved to my right so our teacher couldn’t see while my other classmate stared at my dead in the eye and demanded in a low voice: You pick that shit up. And plate it.
And I did. And I got an A. And I never dropped my chicken again. And I never forgot how to make hatch marks.
If you’re wondering, no, my teacher didn’t eat my dish. He just cut my chicken in half to see how well I cooked it. I did, however, take it home to eat for dinner. Why? Because I don’t like wasting food. And maybe it was some sort of self-imposed penance for what I had done. At any rate, it was delicious and I have no regrets because YOLO.
Here’s how YOU can make these perfect grill marks at home:
1. As always, start with a hot grill or grill pan. Place your food — chicken, burger patty, steak, whatever — diagonally on the grill. Imagine a clock and think of it as the 2:00 position:
2. After about half the cook time on one side, Turn diagonally the other way, or the 10:00 position. (Let’s say you want to cook your food for 4 minutes on each side. After 2 minutes, turn the food diagonally. Then leave 2 minutes longer.)
3. When that one side is done cooking, flip the food over, starting once again at the 2:00 position. Again, wait half the cook time then turn to the 10:00 position.
4. And then it’s done! Marvel at your glorious handiwork.