Texas Tech University

Grilling Tips From Chef Dewey

Allen Ramsey

July 1, 2022

Make your Fourth of July party a success with these grilling tips from Texas Tech’s executive chef.

If you're worried about what to do on the grill this Fourth of July weekend, have no fear, Chef Dewey is here.

With inflation driving the price of meats up this grilling season, Texas Tech University's executive chef, Dewey McMurrey, offered a few suggestions to both wow your guests and keep your July Fourth celebrations cost-efficient.

McMurrey's three recipes give options to keep the grilling party going by using smaller cuts of expensive meats, finding creative uses for some of the cheaper meat products available and skipping the meat altogether to create a traditional favorite.

Tip 1: Use Smaller Protein Portions  

If you're looking to keep using premium meats and still save a bit of cash, putting it on a kebab could be just the answer for you. By taking larger cuts of premium meats, like ribeye or salmon, and cutting them into kebab-sized portions, a single filet can make several servings.

McMurrey's recipe calls for salmon as the protein on this kebab, but this could be easily substituted for steak, chicken, shrimp, or just about anything else. With the salmon, he recommends using a fruity wood or pellet if smoking the meat.

Salmon Kebab with Butter Sauce

Recipe yields four 8-ounce servings.


  • 1 pound Atlantic Salmon (other options viable)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 4 garlic cloves (thin)
  • 1 lemon
  • 12 grape tomatoes (or any small whole tomato)
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 4 12-inch skewers

Butter Sauce:

  • 4 ounces salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground pink peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon dry dill 
  • ½ teaspoon paprika


  • Soak the skewers in hot water for at least 20 minutes. 
  • Wash and cut the salmon filet into large pieces. Season with a little salt.
  • Deseed the bell pepper and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Clean and cut the onion into 1-inch pieces.
  • Zest the lemon to get the teaspoon of lemon zest needed in the butter recipe, then cut the lemon into thin wedges.
  • Measure out the dry spices for the butter.
  • When the skewers are soaked, start pinning the cut ingredients on the skewer as desired.
  • This recipe yields four skewers, but you can make as many as you like.
  • Leave the skewers at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
  • Start the grill or comal to get it hot.
  • Melt spices and butter in a small saucepan. If using a grill, pour a little bit of butter on the skewers and place them on the grill.
  • Drizzle melted butter sauce over skewers to taste as they cook.
  • When the salmon is cooked it is ready to eat.

Pro tip

  • If the food doesn't release itself from the grill when trying to move the skewer leave it alone until it does. Proteins will release themselves when they are cooked well as long as the grill is very hot.  

Tip 2: Get Creative With Cheaper Meats

If you're looking for a way to stick with cheaper meats but still bring some wow factor, McMurrey suggests finding new ways to look at using cheaper meat products. 

The kebab kefta, a traditional Middle Eastern dish, would provide one such option. Using ground meat, usually beef or lamb, the dish creates a flavorful and surprisingly easy-to-make entrée on a stick.

Kebab Kefta:

Recipe yields four 6-ounce servings


  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mint
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper                   


  • Soak the skewers in hot water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Heat grill or comal to medium-high heat.
  • Clean and chop the shallots, parsley and garlic.
  • Measure out the dry spices.
  • Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix evenly. Be gentle when mixing and try not to over-mix so the kebab has a better texture. It should not look smooth.
  • Divide mixture into four even portions.
  • Shape them around the skewer until they have a strong hold and do not fall off when you're only holding the skewer.
  • Season the grill or comal with a little oil and place the kebabs on.
  • Turn the kebabs to cook evenly. The kebabs should reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees Farenheit.

Pro Tips:        

  • You can make the meat mixture into meatball-size pieces if you prefer to add vegetables to the skewer as well.
  • Adding breakfast sausage or chopped bacon is delicious but makes the dish less healthy.

Tip 3: Make Treats of Non-Meats

The final tip for making this Fourth of July's grilling session a success is to skip the meats entirely and lean into other traditional favorites.

Elote, also known as street corn, is a prime example of a non-meat grilling item that provides a filling and delicious option without breaking the bank. The mixture of corn, cheese, cream and seasoning can be used as a side item for a grilling extravaganza or could be the headliner all on its own.

Traditional Street Corn:

Recipe yields four servings.


  • 4 ears of fresh corn on the cob
  • 4 ounces cotija cheese
  • ½ bundle of finely chopped cilantro
  • 4 ounces table crema or mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Tajin seasoning 


  • Heat grill or comal to medium-high heat.
  • Break up the cheese and have it ready in a small bowl
  • Chop the cilantro and have it ready in a small bowl.
  • Place the corn on the grill for about 30 minutes with the husk still on.
  • If using a comal, boil the corn for 20 minutes with the husk still on.
  • When the corn is cooked peel the husk down but leave it attached to the cob. Split one husk leaf in half and tie it around the base of the cob to form a handle.
  • Place cob back on the grill to char the corn as much as desired.
  • When the corn is charred, pour on the table cream or smear on the mayo.
  • Sprinkle with Tajin as desired.
  • Sprinkle on the cheese and cilantro and serve.

Pro Tips:

  • You can substitute queso fresco or ranchero for the cheese.
  • If you do not like Tajin, you can substitute lime juice, salt and chili powder.