Chicken, pulled pork, ribs, brisket, grilled corn on the cob and the quintessential burger and hot dog…everyone has a barbecue favorite. Many of us lit up the grill this past weekend, celebrating Memorial Day and welcoming the unofficial start of summer. May also happened to be National BBQ month. The season we have been waiting for, with its longer days, warmer evenings, when inviting friends and family over for alfresco dining has finally arrived. A gourmet meal prepared under an inviting, blue sky in the comfort of your home, still offers affordable luxury.
With so many different cooking styles, creating endless amounts of grilled possibilities is made easy when you have great recipes for dry rubs and “special” sauces to make ordinary meats and vegetables extraordinary. There are BBQ cookbooks for those who are “advanced,” requiring special equipment with recipes that require many steps and time. Most of us, however, are looking for easier, simpler recipes that turn out delicious food.
Did you know?
• There is a difference between barbecue and grilling. According to BBQguys.com https://bit.ly/3m2WlBV “grilling is about high, direct heat (450 degrees) for short periods of time and most often done with the lid up. True barbecuing is done on moderate heat (350-425 degrees) and generally relies on indirect heat from a two-zone setup along with a closed lid to promote convection heat with the grill.”
• Ellsworth BA Zwoyer, from Pennsylvania invented the charcoal briquette in 1897
• The most popular foods that are cooked on the grill, in order are: burgers, steak, hot dogs, chicken
• July 4th is the most popular day for barbecuing
• Barbecue comes from the Caribbean word barbecue: IA barbecue was a structure made from wood that the Taino Indians used to smoke food.
• The propane gas grill was invented to increase the sale of gas.
• According to Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, almost two-thirds of US adults own a grill or smoker. 68% do it for flavor, followed by lifestyle: (45 percent, convenience (33 percent, entertainment (32 percent) and hobby (19 percent).
Steve Tillett, author of “Grill It Up” (2018, Gibbs Smith, $16.99) has written a book for the casual BBQer. Tillett’s background caught my interest; he considers himself the king of the backyard barbecue (at least in his own backyard) and has done it all of his life. I relate to him, since he too, grew up the son of a butcher, where the grill ran often, and the smell of barbecue was frequent in the air. My dad, who will be turning 90 in September, still looks forward to lighting up the grill, one of his favorite summertime activities.
Tillett, a podiatric surgeon by trade, spent several of his post-graduate and medical residency expanding his BBQ knowledge and refining his style. I admire cookbook authors whose professional careers are unexpected.
He opens the book with helpful hints, writing “grilling “low and slow” is the often-heard adage and barbecue mantra. If you say, “cook it low and slow” to a grill enthusiast, their response usually accompanied by a grin, is, “Yep, low and slow.”
Did you ever think why? This method avoids the intense heat that will dry the meat out. Charred on the outside with the loss of the flavorful juices.
Now, “Grill It Up” for some good eats with flavor-bursting recipes such as BBQ shrimp scampi, Steve’s famous dry rub chicken on a can, grilled cantaloupe, grilled pizza bites, BBQ sauces and rubs. To get yourself and your grill started, check out these recipes for Mix-and-Match Veggie Kebabs and Boy’s-night-Out Orange Ribs, Garlic Infused Olive Oil, Pork & Poultry Brine. For the recipe for raspberry pork loin, please visit https://bit.ly/2L9KUVE
Hint….this cookbook makes a great gift for Father’s Day. You too will benefit, enjoying the delicious food dad prepares from it.
Mix-and-Match Veggie Kebabs
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 to 2 yellow bell peppers
1 to 2 red bell peppers
1 sweet onion, such as Walla- Walla or Vidalia
1 to 2 carrots*
10 to 20 cherry tomatoes
10 to 20 fresh cremini mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil, plus more if needed
Steve’s Famous Dry Rub (recipe below), or garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste
6 (10- to 12-inch) metal or bamboo* skewers
Steve’s Famous Dry Rub
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Store unused rub in an air-tight container. Makes about ½ cup.
Preheat grill to medium. Cut all of the vegetables except tomatoes and mushrooms into ½-inch-thick slices or wedges. Place vegetables in a large sealable bag, add oil and Steve’s dry rub or other seasonings of choice, and gently toss to evenly coat.
Thread vegetable pieces onto the skewers**, making sure to place the more solid vegetables on both ends so that the softer vegetables don’t fall off. Lay the skewers on the grill at a 90-degree angle across the grates and turn every 3-4 minutes until you reach the desired tenderness, about 10-15 minutes.
*Tips: Try boiling carrots for a few minutes until barely softened so they will slide a little more easily onto the skewer.
**If you use wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using so they don’t burn.
Add flavor by brushing the veggies with an infused oil (recipe below).
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Boy’s-night-Out Orange Ribs
1 rack pork ribs or pork spare ribs*
1 recipe Steve’s Brown Sugar Rub (recipe below), to taste
1/2 cup salsa, of choice
¼ cup chili sauce
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
*Variation: Ask your grocer’s meat department to rip (or cut) ribs lengthwise to create bite-size” riblets.”
Tip: To enhance and give ribs a more robust flavor, soak them in Pork and Poultry Brine (recipe below) for 1-2 hours before grilling.
Peel film off back of ribs by hand, or carefully using a knife. Rub the ribs thoroughly with dry rub and let rest for about 1 hour before grilling.
In a small bowl, combine salsa, chili sauce, and marmalade together. Preheat grill to medium low.
Place ribs on grill grate out of direct heat, cover with lid, and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees, turning occasionally. Baste with sauce during the last 5 minutes of grilling.
Steve’s Brown Sugar Rub
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup coarse salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried chopped onion
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic salt
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub over ribs about an hour prior to grilling. Store unused rub in an air-tight container. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
Garlic infused olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano or herb of choice, optional
Place garlic, oil, and oregano in a small saucepan. Gently warm the oil over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When cooled, place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Pork and Poultry Brine
1 cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. If brining a lot of meat, make enough to cover completely. Let meat soak in brine for approximately 1 hour per pound. Makes 2 to 4 servings.
Stephen Fries, is a professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, in New Haven, CT. He has been a food and culinary travel columnist for the past 14 years and is co-founder of and host of “Worth Tasting,” a culinary walking tour of downtown New Haven, CT. Stephen@stephenfries.com For more, go to stephenfries.com.