Grillin’ and Chillin’

By Chef Judi Gallagher –

Summertime is for fun and relaxation, no-fuss parties where even the host and cook can have a good time. That’s why when I host of poolside party I start with this agenda:

1. Make something light and simple that won’t smoke up the pool area.
2. Prepare something that is in season, such as corn on the cob or fresh Georgia peaches.
3. Choose a menu that I can mostly prepare ahead of time.
4. Try a new twist on a traditional old favorite such as “Not your
grandma’s potato salad.”
5. Find thirst quenching cocktails where I can exclude alcohol for those
who prefer a virgin cocktail. Mix in a big pitcher, not individually.

When I follow my own house rules I can sail right into a social summer of grilling and floating in the pool.

Here’s my summer no-fail marinade. Laugh if you want, but Wishbone Italian dressing can’t be beat for a simple grilling marinade. For delicious chicken, pour 1 bottle of Wishbone into an extra large Ziploc bag. Add bone-in chicken breasts, legs and thighs and marinate for two days, turning the bag over each day. For a tougher cut of meat such as London Broil, marinate the meat with ½ Italian dressing and half Teriyaki sauce.

Vegetable kabobs are an ideal side dish. Many gourmet markets prepare them ready to go on the grill without the fuss or mess of cutting peppers, onions and zucchini. And, the leftovers for another dish the next day is perfect.

Dessert in the summer is simple. Grill stone fruit such as plums and peaches and serve with a scoop of homemade frozen yogurt or sorbet. Turn the grill on low, remove the pit and brush the center of the fruit with melted butter and a pinch of brown sugar.

Leftover grilled veggies make a perfect mix for a modern interpretation of pasta salad. Prepare penne pasta and chill completely. Toss with a can of drained garbanzo beans and chopped chilled grilled veggies. Add 1 cup whole grape tomatoes. Season with Kosher salt, black pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Toss with pasta and drizzle truffle oil and balsamic vinegar to taste. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

For drinks think about No-jitos and Mojitos. If you do not make your own simple syrup, which trust me is quite easy, buy a bottle at William Sonoma – but warning you will pay top dollar! Have plenty of fresh mint on hand. Muddle fresh peaches and raspberries. Add simple syrup, plenty of ice and a splash of pineapple juice. Pour in a splash of soda water for each serving and you have a “mocktail.” Want the kick? Just add some Jamaican dark rum and enjoy.

Mojitos (national drink of Cuba)
10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
1 cup ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

This is a great dessert kebab that can be served alone or with ice cream.
This grilled pineapple recipe can also be used to enhance cocktails.

Grilled Pineapple Rum Kabobs
(8 Servings)
1 pineapple, cut into 8 wedges , then cut into fourths
1/2 cup dark rum (or tequila)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice

Mix rum, brown sugar, honey, and orange juice together until sugar is dissolved. Preheat Grill. Thread pineapple slices onto skewers. Place on the grill and baste with rum sauce. Cook kebabs for about 10 minutes, turning and basting occasionally. Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes before serving with cocktails or ice cream.

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