By Zack Britten
Grilling season is in full swing but it doesn’t mean you have to use the same old tired techniques. We’ve tapped local chefs to help you spice up your presentation with quick, easy and delicious tips. So fire it up and get ready for the best barbecued meals this side of the backyard.
Who: Heidi Feinstein, founder & CEO of Life Alive Urban Oasis & Organic Café
What: Grilled cauliflower with turmeric powder
How it’s done: Cauliflower is an easy to grill and satisfying cruciferous veggie that punches an amazing anti-cancer whop. Add turmeric powder and you have a colorful, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory medicine to accompany everything else you barbeque. Cut off the outer ends of the flowers so that you are able to slice one-and-a-half to two-inch thick cauliflower “steaks” leaving the stalk intact (it’s also delicious). Collect the loose flowers and use these too for the side. Make a paste with coconut oil, turmeric powder, pepper and salt — you don’t need much pepper and salt! Always start with small amounts and keep adding a bit to your taste. Black pepper magnifies the therapeutic effects of turmeric. “Paint” your cauliflower with your orange paste. Put on grill (I use a grill pizza pan to make sure none of the deliciousness falls through the cracks). Heat to your liking; they’re usually ready when the burgers are.
Who: Chef Scott Pelletier from Fuse Bistro
What: Pork ribs
How it’s done: When I do get time to myself in the summer, it is best spent cooking over my fire pit in the backyard with family. My favorite BBQ dish is pork ribs. Ribs can be intimidating for the home cook if you have never prepared them before. They can be really tender, smoky and juicy when done right; too often they are dry and too charred. To ensure they retain their moisture I recommend braising them for a few hours the day before with beer and spices in the oven. Letting them cool after this and before grilling, ensures they will be tender and moist. Before grilling add a dry rub. Often times cooks will add a BBQ sauce before grilling which is usually high in sugar and causes the outside of the ribs to burn instead of getting a delicious crust. To avoid the burn, brush with BBQ sauce five minutes before they leave the grill.
Who: Chef Scott Plath from Cobblestones
What: Caramelized chicken thighs with vegetables
How it’s done: For me every summer is spent chefing outdoors, mastering perfectly charred, caramelized chicken thighs over blistering coals while “melting” lightly-salted and olive-oiled farmer’s market vegetables “low and slow.” These items are great because they allow some margin for error if easily distracted, especially while sipping from a cold bottle of Navigation beer! Skin on or off, the thighs are my all-time favorite as they remain fork-tender. I prefer to sear skin-side down until charring begins, flipping them over to self-baste while finishing with a dose of a sweet and spicy BBQ-ginger-garlic-soy sauce, roasting to a sticky, bubbly glaze. Be prepared to move them around to cooler spots when they flare.
Who: Chef Richard Baker from Marianos Ristorante and Bailey’s Bar & Grille
What: Grilled Maine Lobster
How it’s done: Place a pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil. The size of the pot will determine how many lobsters you plan on preparing. Put the lobster into the boiling water for three minutes then remove and place them into an ice bath that will stop the cooking process. Using a knife, split the lobsters in half and remove all the roe and place it in a small pot with butter, two cloves of minced garlic, one bunch of fresh parsley and one cup of white wine heating very low. Make sure your grill is hot and place each half of the lobster meat side down for thirty seconds then turn them over shell side down and ladle the butter and roe mixture over the lobster. That will baste and poach your lobster for three to five minutes depending on the size of the lobster. Then remove them from the grill, finish it with fresh lemon and its ready to be served.
Who: Teddy Panos of Athenian Corner
What: Greek-style kebabs
How it’s done: The aroma of lamb, beef or chicken shish kebabs on the grill are guaranteed to make my mouth water. Start by cutting the meat into 2-oz. cubes. Marinate overnight in olive oil, lemon, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, oregano & a hint of white wine. Skewer the meat with tomatoes, peppers & onions, then grill. My preferred cooking temp on the lamb & beef is medium rare, but medium or medium-well will also do. Obviously, well done on the chicken. Toss in some Greek salad, rice pilaf and lemon potatoes, and you have the perfect cookout meal. Don’t forget the Greek wine!
Who: Chef Denise Ban from Simply Khmer
What: Sach Ko Ang Jakak (grilled lemongrass beef skewers)
How it’s done: Perfectly seasoned beef is a mouth-watering hit at any gathering. You’ll need 1lb of quality beef for slicing into thin strips; ½ cup olive oil; 5 tsp oyster sauce; 5 tsp sugar and around 8 bamboo sticks for skewering (you may need more bamboo depending on the number of guests). Next up, prepare your kroeung. This special herb and spice paste, a staple base in many Cambodian dishes, is the secret to making your dish explode with flavor. You’ll need a half cup. To prepare the kroeung, gather ¼ cup chopped lemongrass; 1 head of garlic; 1 tsp turmeric; 1 slice of galangal chopped into small pieces and 2 kaffir lime leaves. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and grind to a paste. Once your beef is sliced into 1/8 to ¼ inch thick strips, place them in a large bowl with your kroeung, oil, oyster sauce, sugar, and marinade them well. Cover and leave in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Soak the bamboo sticks for 30 minutes before threading your meat. Start coals and burn until they begin to glow. If your grill is gas, turn to medium heat. Grill your skewers until well browned, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Enjoy.