By Chef Judi Gallagher –
As a New Englander, Memorial Day weekend always meant filling the grills with charcoal, seasoning the steaks and deciding whether the cold rain would hold off or if we would have to move the picnic table into the garage.
The menu seldom varied. There was always Mrs. Calhoun’s tuna-macaroni salad, my Mom’s potato salad made with Hellman’s mayo and chopped hard-boiled eggs, red onion and celery. Her secret seasoning was a packet of George Washington beef broth, (honestly, a sprinkle in egg salad or tossed in a fresh crisp garden salad with oil and vinegar is amazing).
There were baked stuffed potatoes if we were having marinated grilled flank steak and, of course, watermelon carved like a boat with lovely scooped assorted melon balls. We Coopers were kind of the kings of summer grilling season. Memorial Day was a two-day cook out event, usually with barbecued chicken while Father’s Day was clearly the day of big steaks. Back in the day BBQ meant grilling – there were no special wood chips and the newest thing on the market was self-lighting Kingsford Charcoal. Bobby Flay took us to another level with Boy Meets Grill and today there are almost as many grilling and BBQ books as there are day-to-day cookbooks.
To make it simple for our Flavors & More readers, follow this guide, and remember nothing goes better with a summer grilling menu than a pile of marshmallows waiting to be toasted.
The difference between Grilling and Barbecuing is simple:
Grilling is cooking over direct intense heat. It involves food that needs to be turned, basted and generally smaller and tenderer cuts of steaks, fish and poultry. The heat should be at a level that if you hold your palm 5 inches over the grill, you will have to move it away after 2 to 3 seconds. Use the tenderest cuts of steaks; like filets, strips and porterhouse. Steak cut fish like sword, tuna, mahi-mahi and salmon are easier to handle than thinner fillet cuts.
Barbecue on the other hand uses indirect heat and much lower temperatures that range in the 200 to 250 degree area. This involves much longer cook times and is best suited for briskets, pork shoulders and less tender cuts that benefit from long slow cooking.
Chef Judi’s Grilling Tips
* If using charcoal, for best flavor use a chimney type starter.
* My favorite type of charcoal is the hardwood type that comes in different and irregular shapes. These cook hotter and faster than briquettes.
* If you are going to add a smoke flavor, also use the chunk style wood.
* Soak the wood chunks for 20 minutes or so to produce the best smoke.
* If you are the spontaneous type griller, soak your wood chunks for 20 minutes, then place them in a zip lock bag and throw them in the freezer. Then you are always ready to add a bit of smoke flavor without having to wait.
* Keep your grill surface clean and oiled while grilling. This will keep the lean cuts from sticking and help get those beautiful but sometimes elusive grill marks we are always so proud of!
* Use tongs or a spatula instead of a fork to turn your steaks and fish.
* Keep your grill clean. The easiest way is to clean after every use.
Cedar Plank Salmon
1 cedar plank (6 by 14 inches)
2 salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons brown sugar
Soak cedar plank in salted water for 2 hours, then drain. Remove skin from salmon fillet. Remove any remaining bones. Rinse the salmon under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the salmon with salt and pepper on both sides. Lay the salmon (on what was skin-side down) on the cedar plank and carefully spread the mustard over the top and sides. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and crumble between your fingers, then sprinkle over the mustard.
Set grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-high. Place the cedar plank in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook until cooked through, around 20 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature should read 135 degrees F. Transfer the salmon and plank to a platter and serve right off the plank.
Cook’s Note: A direct method to grill the salmon may be used. Soak the cedar plank well. Spread the mustard and brown sugar on the salmon, but do not place the fish on the plank. Set up the grill for direct grilling on medium-high. When ready to cook, place the plank on the hot grate and leave it until there is a smell of smoke, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the plank over and place the fish on top. Cover the grill and cook until the fish is cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 135 degrees F. Check the plank occasionally. If the edges start to catch fire, mist with water, or move the plank to a cooler part of the grill.
Whiskey-Butter Grilled Steaks
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 shallots minced, soaked in 1 shot of Jack Daniels or other whiskey or bourbon
3 teaspoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons Jack Daniels or other whiskey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
White pepper to taste
4 cowboy steaks, bone-in rib eye steaks, or other favorite steak, about 1-inch thick
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely ground
Chopped parsley, optional
Grill on Medium-High
Make Whiskey Butter:
Make Butter at least 3 hours in advance. Combine butter, shallots soaked in Jack Daniels (or other bourbon or whiskey), parsley, Worcestershire, mustard, whiskey, salt, and pepper. Mix well. On a piece of plastic wrap, drop butter in spoonfuls to form a log. Roll butter in plastic wrap and smooth out to form a round log. Refrigerate until hard and easy to slice into round, coin-shaped pieces.
Allow meat to come to room temperature about 15 minutes before grilling.
Just before grilling, brush both sides of the steaks with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place steaks directly over medium-high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, just long enough to get good grill marks. Turn steaks and sear the other side. Move steaks to indirect heat and continue cooking for about 7 more minutes for medium rare.
Remove steaks from the grill, top with a pat of the whiskey butter and allow to rest at least 5 minutes but no longer than 10 before serving.
Spread the melted butter all over the tops of the steaks and top each with a fresh slice of the whiskey butter and parsley, if desired.
Slow Cooked Apple Smoked Barbecue Pork
Serves: 8 to 10
1 (5 to 6 pounds) pork butt
1/2 cup Pork Rub, recipe follows
1 tablespoon dry mustard
Apple chips, soaked in water
BBQ sauce, recipe follows
8 soft potato rolls or sweet potato rolls
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 large pickles, sliced into thin rounds
Place the pork butt in a shallow pan. To the pork rub, add the dry mustard and mix well. Rub the whole surface with the Pork Rub. Drizzle the surface with olive oil and rub well again. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Soak the apple chips in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Preheat 1 side of the charcoal grill to medium. Drain the apple chips and place on the hot side of the grill in the wood chip tray or in a small metal tray by the fire. Keep the other half of the grill on very low heat.
Place the pork on the hotter side of the grill and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove to the lower heat side of the grill. Cook slowly, over low heat, 300 degrees F, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 2 1/2 hours. Turn the meat every 20 minutes or so.
Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Shred into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss with desired amount of BBQ Sauce. Place on buns and top with red onions and pickles. (for Carolina style top with coleslaw.)
3 tablespoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon garlic salt
4 tablespoons garlic powder
4 tablespoons dried thyme
4 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons mild paprika
2 tablespoons hot paprika
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Mix all ingredients together and stir well.
Yield: about 1 cup
1/2 medium onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 cup ketchup
1 cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons southern style hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil. Sauté the onions, garlic, and oregano until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, ketchup, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, hot sauce, paprika , cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and heat to desired taste. Yield: about 3 cups.