Summer’s almost here and that means we’ll be grilling like crazy. After all, the backyard barbecue is not only an easy and popular way to cook and entertain this time of year, everything just tastes better when it’s fresh off the grill — burgers, brats, ribs, steak, pork, poultry, seafood, potatoes, vegetables, even fruit!
Self-proclaimed grill masters like my husband will tell you that it takes time, practice and a little trial and error to prepare the perfect medium-rare rib eye or lightly charred chicken. But, having the right tools and info upfront will help you hone your barbecuing skills and avoid potential disasters, like setting your garage on fire or under-cooking your entree.
Since I’m not an expert on the subject (nor admittedly is my husband), I’ve included a few web links for grilling guidelines, recipes, resources, and more.
kingsford.com — sponsored by Kingsford (the only brand of charcoal we’ll use), this site offers an impressive collection of recipes, ideas and techniques from professional outdoor chefs.
best-grilling-tips-and-recipes.com — the folks behind this site searched high and low to compile some of the greatest outdoor grilling recipes and tips available online.
BBQGuys.com — in addition to being an excellent online resource for quality grills, smokers and grilling tools, these guys provide insights, articles, instructional videos, and loads of inspiration to help you become a master griller.
And now for some enticing recipes…
Four fresh or frozen salmon fillets (skin-on), 3/4″ thick
1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Directions: Thaw salmon fillets, if frozen. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Combine oregano, cilantro, green onion, garlic, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in food processor or blender. Cover and process until chopped. (Or, use a knife to finely chop oregano, cilantro, green onion and garlic. Transfer to a shallow bowl, then stir in lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.) Generously coat both sides of salmon with herb mixture. Place salmon, skin-side-down, on clean, lightly oiled grill rack directly over medium-hot coals or preheated gas grill. Cook until salmon is brown on the outside and flakes easily with a fork (about 6-8 minutes per side), turning fish once halfway through grilling. If there’s any skin left on the salmon after grilling, remove it before serving.
Need help grilling salmon? Click here for tips.
1 lb. fresh asparagus spears
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Directions: Snap off tough (woody) ends of asparagus. Lightly season with salt and pepper and place in a shallow bowl. Cover with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Marinate for 1 hour, turning asparagus frequently. Preheat grill and place asparagus spears on clean, lightly oiled grill rack. Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until asparagus is tender with a fork. Turn often so they brown on all sides. Remove from grill and serve immediately. Yields 4 servings. Variation: Omit the vinegar and sprinkle asparagus with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.
Pineapple Chicken Kabobs
1 lb. chicken breasts cut up into large bite sized (approx. 1″) chunks
1 fresh ripe pineapple (canned is okay, but fresh is better), cut into bite sized chunks
1 red onion, sliced into 1″ pieces
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. oil (vegetable or canola)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
Directions: In a medium sized bowl, combine garlic powder, brown sugar, ground ginger, black pepper, oil, water & soy sauce. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute until combined. Add chicken and mix until chicken is coated with sauce. Dump entire contents into a gallon sized zip lock bag (or cover bowl with saran wrap) and marinate in refrigerator for 3-4 hours, mixing contents of bag/bowl every hour to ensure even marinade. Place wooden skewers in a pan of water and allow them to absorb the water while chicken is marinating. When chicken is done marinating, alternately skewer pineapple, onions and chicken until skewers are full, leaving 2″ on each end. Spray grill with a non-stick spray and place skewers on grill rack. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is done, rotating every 5 minutes to ensure even grilling. Serve immediately over rice. NOTE: I add extra raw veggies like bell peppers (cut into chunks) and cherry tomatoes.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Dash of fresh pepper
Directions: Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Place marinade in a large freezer bag with steak, coating steak completely. Seal bag and refrigerate for 8-12 hours or overnight. Discard marinade and grill steak to desired doneness.
Make your own wood chips to infuse grilled food with a delightful wood-smoke flavor
We’ve always enjoyed that smoky, barbecue-y flavor you get from grilling with charcoal and my husband found a way to enhance it. Whenever he prunes/trims our apple trees, he cuts the trimmed branches into thumb-size (about 1″) chunks. Leaving the barks on, he lets the wood chunks dry for a couple of weeks then places several directly in with the charcoal briquettes. (Experts recommend soaking wood chips in water for a few minutes first for a slower burn.) Of course you can always get wood chips from the store, but why buy ’em if you don’t have to! Click here for ways to use wood chips on gas grills.
Here’s to a fun and flavorful Memorial Day weekend!
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Smart Perks Blogger Catherine B. loves just about anything from the grill and the fact that someone else does the cooking for a change.