Light the fire. Practically anything can be grilled with great results, says Michael. Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, potatoes—they all hit the rack at Casa Lomonaco. Grilling food produces an especially satisfying flavor and is so much better for you than frying or sauteing in butter. Just before serving, brush on a little amped-up olive oil. To make, heat 1 cup olive oil in a saucepan, season with 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue spice mix (he uses smoked paprika), let steep for an hour, cool, then strain through a paper coffee filter.
Walk the plank. Cedar-plank salmon is one of the most popular picks at Porter House. Michael soaks untreated cedar shingles, readily available at lumber yards, in warm water for an hour before cooking (planks specifically for cooking are also available in many hardware stores). Season the fish fillet with salt, pepper and other spices as desired, then lay it on a cedar plank set in a roasting pan. Slide pan into a 375-degree oven or place it on the unfired side of an outdoor grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes per inch thick.
Roast for the most. Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat, sear meat or fish on one side for 3 minutes, flip, then slide the whole pan into a 375-degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness.
Spice it up. Create your own barbecue rub with your favorite spices—or use Michael's (recipe, below). It complements meat, fish and poultry, and lasts for weeks in the fridge.
Michael Lomonaco's Chile Rub
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
1 cup ancho chile powder or other single-chile powder*
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup water
Whisk all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Bring the water to a boil and carefully add it to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Cool and refrigerate until using.
*If only whole, dried chiles are available, toast them in a hot pan, remove seeds and process to a powder in a food processor.
Originally published in the June 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.