Opening weekend: backyard barbecue. Get out the steel wool. Scrub down the grill rack, the barbecue tools. Strike up the charcoal. Add hot dogs, burgers. Bring on a big bowl of classic potato salad. Cover the table with a checkered cloth, stack up the paper napkins. It’s the first cookout of the season!
Opening weekend: backyard barbecue. Get out the steel wool. Scrub down the grill rack, the barbecue tools. Strike up the charcoal. Add hot dogs, burgers. Bring on a big bowl of classic potato salad. Cover the table with a checkered cloth, stack up the paper napkins. It’s the first cookout of the season! Keep it simple, pure, traditional.
Fast forward to future weekends. After a few delicious repetitions the cook will need to step up to the rest of the outdoor cooking season. To the rescue: a hot-off-the-press copy of “300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes” by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig will open new vistas in outdoor cooking. Officially trademarked “The BBQ Queens,” these two ladies moved in on the men’s fire and fresh air routine authoring numerous articles and books on the subject. This time, they turn to the global pantry for new inspiration.
“The key to delicious results is building the bold flavor before, during, and after barbecuing,” say the authors. “For example, if you want your rib eye steak to have a blackened exterior and a rare interior, you need a good rub on your steak, a hot fire in close proximity to your meat, and a short cooking time.”
Adler and Fertig share tips and techniques for the grill, the barbecue and the smoker. The authors detail the processes of grilling, smoking, planking and spit roasting, as well as some special techniques such as herb grilling and leaf wrapping. Another section discusses equipment. Plenty of recipes for rubs and bastes, marinades and brines; bastes and glazes got my attention.
Along with all time backyard favorites such as pulled pork and barbecue spareribs, exotic flavors such as Moroccan Chicken with Apricot and Pistachio Couscous; Balinese Shrimp Satay on Lemongrass Stalks; Herbes de Provence Wood-Grilled Rabbit; and Vietnamese Grilled Beef Skewers find their way into the text.
And backyard cooking isn’t just for meat anymore. Whole chapters are devoted to fish, vegetables and fruits for healthier eating that will perk up appetites during the dog days of summer. Thumbing through the book I found luscious-sounding Grilled Baby Artichokes with Balsamic Olive Oil Drizzle; Smoked Sweet Potato Casserole with Ginger & Lime; and, Smoked Corn in the Husk with Hot Pepper Herb Butter.
In this sample menu, all recipes are adapted from “300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes” by Adler and Fertig (Robert Rose, 2009):CHAR-GRILLED HEARTS OF ROMAINE WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PINTO GRIGIO VINAIGRETTE Makes 6 servings
The little bit of charring around the romaine’s edges provides an enormous leap of flavor. Keeping the core of the lettuce intact prevents the outer leaves from falling off.1-1/2 cups pinot grigio 2 shallots, minced 2 teaspoons rice vinegar grated zest and juice of 1 lemon 3/4 cup olive oil kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise extra-virgin olive oil, as needed 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 1 cup garlic-flavored croutons
1. In a small saucepan, bring wine to a simmer over medium heat; simmer until reduced by half. Add shallots, vinegar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually whisk in olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.2. Prepare a hot fire in the outdoor grill.
3. Brush cut side of romaine with olive oil. Place cut side down on the grill. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, or until outer lettuce leaves are charred and there are good grill marks on the cut side. (Do not close the grill lid or lettuce will wilt.)
4. Serve each half romaine sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese and croutons and drizzled with vinaigrette.SHORT RIBS WITH BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE Makes 8 servings
The key to this recipe is to render enough fat from the ribs during oven-roasting. Finish them on the grill. The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.1/2 cup smoked paprika 2 tablespoons garlic salt 2 tablespoons lemon pepper 4 pounds beef short ribs, trimmed and membrane removed 1-1/2 cups ketchup 1-1/2 cups chili sauce 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/2 cup apple- or fig-flavored balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup dry mustard 1/4 cup bourbon 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon celery salt 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In a bowl, combine paprika, garlic salt and lemon pepper. Sprinkle evenly over both sides of ribs. Place ribs on baking racks set on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for about 2-1/2 hours, or until meat pulls away from the ends of the bones.
3. In a large saucepan, combine ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, bourbon, water, celery salt and liquid smoke; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.4. Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill.
5. Place ribs meaty side down on the grill. Grill for 7 to 10 minutes, or until meat is a nice burnished color. Turn ribs and slather the meaty side with sauce. Grill for 7 to 10 minutes, until sauce is caramelized.
6. For maximum flavor, the ribs can be sprinkled with the paprika, garlic salt and lemon pepper up to 1 day before. Wrap well and store in the refrigerator.
After step 1, the ribs can be cooled, wrapped in foil and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.GRILLED PEACHES WITH BUTTERY AMARETTO BASTE Makes 4 to 8 servings
Crème fraiche is available in small plastic tubs in the dairy section of many supermarkets.1/4 cup unsalted butter 1/4 cup amaretto Pinch sea salt 4 large firm peaches or nectarines (unpeeled), halved crème fraîche or whipped cream Blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in amaretto and salt. Keep warm.2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in the grill.
3. Brush peaches all over with baste. Place cut side down on the grill. Grill for 4 to 6 minutes, turning and basting once, until peaches are tender and blistered. Arrange peaches on a platter; dollop with crème fraîche; scatter with berries.
Linda Bassett, author of “From Apple Pie to Pad Thai,” teaches American regional cooking and international cuisine at North Shore Community College. Reach her by e-mail at KitchenCall@aol.com.