Grilling Out

The change of seasons has an effect on our eating habits.  Winter weather gives rise to thoughts of thick soups and stews to warm us; in late spring and summer we usually prefer getting out of a hot kitchen and indulging in lighter fare.  Vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, onions, and colorful bell peppers sliced in half, topped with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper are delicious on the barbecue grill.  The following recipes for meats, culled from magazines, newspapers, and who knows where else, have graced our warm weather tables for years.

Grilled Chops with Mustard and Herb Butter can be made with lamb, veal, or my choice, pork.  Mix 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard with 1 teaspoon dry mustard, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of softened butter.  Apply the resulting paste to both sides of each of 4 chops and grill them for 4 to 6 minutes each side over very hot coals.  (Obviously you could also use a gas grill; we’re purists, however, when it comes to grilled meat.)  If the chop is especially thick, you should then wrap each one in a square of aluminum foil that has been lightly buttered and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve with an herb mixture which combines softened butter, parsley, chives, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  You could actually use any herb combination that appeals to you. Really tasty!

Another preferred recipe of mine came from Albany’s Times Union newspaper and is called Cajun BBQ Chicken.  Every time I prepare it I remember some men coming to the front door years ago trying to sell me a cable package.  The first thing they said was: “Lady, we’ll give you cable, if you give us what you have on the grill!”—it smells just that delicious cooking and tastes even better.  The actual recipe calls for chicken strips which should be skewered before cooking.  But I normally make it with a whole chicken which I either cut in 2 or at least slice down the back, so that it cooks in a shorter amount of time.  The Cajun rub does require quite a few herbs and spices: 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and the same amount of thyme, 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, ¼ teaspoon dry mustard, as well as salt and pepper.  Rub on both sides of the chicken.  Use indirect grilling so that the bird is cooked through but not overly burned on the outside.  I guarantee that you’ll love it!

Rounding out the top three barbecue favorites at our house is Beef Shish Kabob.  We have learned that grilling meat and vegetables on the same skewer is not usually a good idea since they need different cooking times.  This recipe allows you to cook the meat and vegetables separately.  In a large bowl, combine 1½ pounds of beef cubes (preferably blade steaks—recognizable by a strip of connective tissue which runs down the middle and which must be removed) with 1 small onion finely chopped, 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons of salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a good sprinkling of dried oregano.  Then thread the chunks of meat on skewers and cook to desired amount of doneness.  Really great with tzatziki sauce and a Greek salad!

I hope this gives you some ideas for great meals prepared on the barbecue grill.  Feel free to share any of your top recipes with me!

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