By Chef Judi Gallagher.
For me, there’s nothing like grilling in the summer. It is truly the American way to celebrate the Fourth of July with grilled ribs, burgers and yes, the quintessential hot dog. After all, there’s nothing that proclaims summer like barbecue sauce or a perfectly grilled steak, right?
True lovers of barbecue know that barbecued meat is cooked low (temperature) and slow (time) and that wood smoke is absolutely essential. Barbecue is an all-day, or even multiple-day, affair — it’s all about the
unhurried development of flavors. Beyond that, barbecue can be intensely personal and that’s one of my favorite things about it: you can make barbecue 100-hundred-percent your own.
One of the biggest trends in barbecue right now is the incorporation of global flavors. I’m an Asian-food junkie so this is thrilling for me — spicy Korean ribs sound amazing, as does Mexican-chili-infused chicken and garlicky Argentinean anything. Try working coconut milk, lemongrass or other flavors you love into your ‘cue’ and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Grilling, meanwhile, is a different but equally summer-appropriate culinary option. While barbecue is typically associated with meat, you can throw anything on the grill from juicy, thick pineapple slices sprinkled with brown sugar and a splash of apricot brandy to corn on-the-cob brushed with sundried
tomato butter to split lobsters with curry-peanut sauce.
Try incorporating Indian spices into your meats, or for corn or vegetables, herb flavored butters or oils. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, no problem — I love my grill pan for stovetop grilling. And best of all, grilling is quick. Your food will be ready in no time, sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.
This summer, step outside your comfort zone and add and experiment with new flavors at the grill station. Add a crisp summer salad, some homemade pie or cobbler, and an icy, thirst-quenching drink — maybe sweet tea or lemonade, a flavorful margarita, or your favorite beer — and call your friends and family, because after all, the best thing about both barbecuing and grilling is the sharing of flavors with your favorite people.
Chef Judi’s best summer success tips:
1. Spray your grill down with Pam before you turn it on! It will certainly keep things from sticking and helps add moisture to grilled vegetables.
2. Use a round grill pan with handle. My favorite is from the Companion Group catalog. I even toss and grill chicken breasts and drizzle with a little teriyaki glaze for a grilled stir fry.
3. Rub your porterhouse steaks with a generous portion of truffle salt and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling. Trust me on this one — you’ll never go back to plain salt again.
4. Grilling pineapple or peaches makes for a lovely summer dessert. Top the fruit with a scoop of ice cream and some toasted coconut or a drizzle of spiced rum.
5. When you’re grilling ribs, make sure you serve a side dish of extra barbecue sauce and mini-biscuits or chunks of cornbread for dipping. Often, guests prefer extra barbecue sauce but don’t feel comfortable having to ask for it. Anticipate that need, pass around a pretty dish of sauce and dipping biscuits. Bonus – the leftover biscuits (if you’re lucky enough to have any) are perfect for mini-barbecued rib sandwiches the next day.
Grilled Peach Cobbler with Blueberries and Caramel Sauce
(Adapted from Chef Bobby Flay)
6 ripe peaches, halved, pit removed
1 pint blueberries
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted cold butter, melted, plus more if needed,
8 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/2 cup granola
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup caramel sauce, heated
Heat the grill to medium. Place the peaches cut side down on the grill until browned. Remove from the grill, cut into wedges and place into a gratin dish. To the peaches add half the butter, half the brown sugar and half the cinnamon, and toss. Add the remaining butter, sugar and cinnamon to the granola in a small bowl and toss until combined, adding more butter if needed. Top the peaches with the granola mixture and place the gratin dish onto the grill. Close and bake until the peaches and granola are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Glazed Pork Chops
We tend to follow our mother’s advice and over cook pork. A perfect pork chop is a mere 12-13 minutes away and should be served medium, not well done. Juicy and best on the bone to seal in extra flavor, I prefer to grill thick cut pork chops outside, however a heavy cast iron skillet works well inside.
Since I am so busy, I find steps to “cheat”, like buying baked stuffed potatoes already prepared that need only to go into the oven for 15 minutes. I also found okra chips at Fresh Market – a fun and creative way to garnish your dish and quite tasty. And all your guests will comment on them because who ever heard of okra chips? You did by going outside of your usual grilling-meal comfort zone. Good for you!
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
4 pork rib chops, 1 inch thick
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons black pepper
Montreal steak seasoning
Dehydrated okra for garnish
The sweet glaze is the reason for finishing these chops over indirect heat. Brown sugar in the glaze easily will burn if left over direct heat. Cover the grill during grilling to retain the heat. Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium-high heat and keeping the other side unlit. Combine lime juice, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and red pepper flakes for the glaze in a bowl; set aside half the glaze for serving and use remaining half during grilling. Rub pork chops with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill chops, covered, over heated side of grill for 3 minutes. Rotate chops 90 degrees and cook for another 3 minutes. Flip chops and place over unlit side of grill for 3 minutes. Brush chops generously with glaze. Cook chops until meat reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees, 6–8 minutes. Serve with baked stuffed potato and okra garnish.
(Special thanks to Fresh Market for providing the wonderful ingredients for this photo shoot. Photographs by Rod Millington.)