It's that time of the year again - time to to fire up the grill and prepare an outdoor feast for your family and friends. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the grilling season. If your grilling isn't all what it could be or maybe you are looking for a few pointers to create a "wow"-ness factor, you've come to the right place. Read on for some tips and recipes to make your BBQ stand out.
Tips from “Pit Master” Andrew Evans, Chef & Owner, The BBQ Joint [Easton, Md.]
"Marinate large shrimp, shell on, with lemon peel, crushed garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, chopped Italian parsley and salt and pepper for 1 hour. Flash grill on a super hot grill. Serve with anything! "
"Grill Flat Iron steak after marinating in an IPA beer with onions for two hours. Grill steak and onions together after seasoning with salt and pepper."
"Divide your grill in two with fire on one side. Put pieces of salmon on the side with no fire and hot smoke with apple chips at 250 degrees until 160 degrees internal."
And Robert St. John, Executive Chef, Purple Parrot Cafe [Hattiesburg, Miss.] and author of New South Grilling, adds,
"Never use lighter fluid or charcoal already soaked in lighter fluid. For the best-tasting grill food, use only pure hardwood lump charcoal."
"Barbecue sauce always goes on at the last minute, if at all."
"Don't pierce meat with a fork or knife to check if it's done. Learn how to grill by touch."
Every want to prepare your own Grilled Red Fish "on the Half-Shell"? Find out the secret of this signature dish of Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill from Ralph Brennan himself.
"The 'on the Half-Shell' cooking method, calls for grilling only on one side, with the scales and skin side down. The benefits of this increase the succulence and flavor. Baking or broiling does not achieve the same results, since the heat source must come from the bottom. Hickory chips impart sweetness, and soaking the hickory will increase the smoke flavor."
Barbecuing chicken? Haley Bittermann, Executive Chef, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group [New Orleans] recommends sous vide!
“It is often difficult to cook barbecue chicken evenly without burning the outside. To avoid that problem, remove the skin and sous vides
the chicken first. It comes out tender, juicy, healthier (by removing the skin and you don't have to add any additional fat), and doesn't burn on the outside. Another benefit is that you can sous vide
the chicken ahead of time during the day and leave it in the circulator until you are ready to grill.”
Flavor with sea salts, says Steven Marsella, Executive Chef, Heritage Grill [New Orleans]
“There are so many different types of salts and sea salts today that using them to finish grilled meats or vegetables can accent the flavors of what you are grilling. For example using a smoked sea salt to finish grilled salmon or chicken, truffle salt on grilled veal chops or grilled mushrooms, or fennel salt on shrimp.”
Matthew Britt, Executive Chef of Ceiba [Washington, DC] recommends kicking up your grilled with with Chipotle Lime Cilantro Oil Marinade
"I love grilling jumbo shrimp marinated with chipotle lime cilantro and oil. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a blender and purée. Coat the shrimp and grill. Serve with lime wedges and if you want to be extra fancy, you can skewer them with a sugar cane."
Spring Onions add an element to any dish, says Ian Schnoebelen, Executive Chef, Mariza [New Orleans]
“I love to grill spring onions and serve with meat, fish or by themselves. Just toss with some extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and sea salt and throw on the grill!”
Ready to fire up your grill? Here's a few recipes for you to try.
Dr. Pepper Glazed Ham
courtesy of Robert St. John, New South Grilling
Yield: 10-14 servings
24 ounces Dr. Pepper
2 tablespoons Mayhaw Jelly (or Muscadine Jelly)
2 whole Bay leaves
2 tablespoons Pickapeppa Sauce
1 teaspoons Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Shallot, minced
5 whole Cloves
1 whole Cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon Fresh orange zest
.75 cup Orange juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons Lemon zest
2 teaspoons Lime zest
1 whole Cured smoked ham, 10-12 lbs.
1 teaspoon Dry mustard
1 cup Light brown sugar
Prepare grill for low heat cooking and soak 4 cups of wood chips.
Combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepot. Place over medium heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Strain the liquid and discard the solids.
Return the mixture to the stove and reduce to 3/4 cup liquid. Place the ham on a v-shaped baking rack in a disposable roasting pan.
Using a paring knife, cut shallow slits in a criss-cross pattern on the top of the ham. Spoon two tablespoons of the glaze over the top of the ham. Combine the dry mustard and brown sugar, and press the mixture over the entire surface of the ham. Pour one cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Prepare the grill or smoker. Add wood chips to the charcoal as needed. Cook over indirect medium heat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the glaze over the ham every 15-20 minutes until all of the glaze is gone. Cover as much of the surface of the ham as possible.
Allow the ham to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. If you don’t have an aluminum disposable roasting pan, use a roasting pan that has been completely lined with foil
Smoked White Fish with Brine
courtesy of Chef Andrew Evans, Owner, The BBQ Joint – Easton, MD
10-12 White fish fillets [or as much as desired]
4 cups Water
.5 cup Sea salt
.5 cup Sugar
2 each Lemons, halved and squeezed
2 each Bay leaves
To taste Crushed peppercorns
To taste Thyme, fresh
Italian Parsley, fresh
To create the brine, boil water to a simmer, add salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate to chill or until ready for use.
Clean the fish and soak in cold brine for 2-3 hours for small fish, and 6-10 hours for larger fish.
Once marinated, smoke for 1 hour at 225 degrees Fahrenheit with apple wood until reaching a 160-165 degree internal temperature.
Remove from smoker and serve warm or cold.
Grilled Redfish “On the Half-Shell” With Maitre D’Hotel Butter
courtesy of Ralph Brennan, Owner, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group and author of Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
Yields: 6 servings
Recommended alternate species: pompano, salmon, sea bass. If you’d like the fish to have a smokier flavor, soak the wood chips for at least four hours, or according to package directions, before grilling. Drain the chips just before using, but leave them dripping wet and add them after the fire is hot.
For brushing Salad Oil (not olive oil)
For brushing onto the grill rack and fish fillets
6 each Redfish Fillets
With skin and scales still attached on one side, each 6 to 8 ounces, neatly trimmed, including removing the “belly” if still attached
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
3 tablespoons Dry white wine, if grilling in batches
Clean the grill rack with a wire brush and preheat it until it is hot. Then add wet or dry hickory or other wood chips. Brush the rack with a thick wad of paper towels saturated in salad oil, holding the paper towels with long-handled tongs so you don’t burn yourself.
Place the fillets skin down on a work surface. Make sure the skinless sides are free of any loose scales. Brush the skinless sides with salad oil, and season each fillet evenly on the skinless side with .5 teaspoon Creole seasoning.
Once the grill is ready, place the fillets directly on it, skin side down, and cook until they are done, about five to eight minutes. The cooking time will vary according to the heat of the grill and the thickness of the fillets. (Watch closely so the fish does not overcook.) Do not turn over the fillets. Use a broad, large and sturdy spatula to lift each fillet from the grill at least once while cooking so it doesn’t stick excessively. To test for doneness, insert the tip of a knife into the thickest part of a fillet to separate the flesh a little to assess if it’s cooked all the way through.
If cooking the fillets in batches, transfer the cooked fillets, skin side down, to a heat-proof platter placed in a warm spot, and drizzle the fillets with white wine to keep them moist while grilling the remaining fish.
Serving Suggestion: Once all the fillets are cooked, serve immediately, skin side down on heated dinner plates. Top the fillets with rounds of mâitre d’hôtel butter, using a total of 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of butter for each serving.
Maitre D’Hotel Butter
about 9 tablespoons
Note: In its classic French version, beurre maître d’hôtel contains simply butter, chopped parsley and lemon juice. But many New Orleans cooks like to add a few personal touches, such as garlic, thyme, shallots and even Herbsaint, the anisette liqueur that originated in the city.
Compound butters can provide a delightful finishing touch to an almost limitless number of dishes, especially grilled fish and poultry, and meats cooked in various ways. They also come in handy for finishing simple sauces and whenever you want to add a little extra flair to vegetables and starches.
Maître d’hôtel butter, like all compound butters, can be shaped into a log and rolled in parchment paper and plastic for storage in the refrigerator or freezer. When needed, it is sliced as you would slice a log of cookie dough.
.25 pound Unsalted Butter, left at room temperature until very soft
2 tablespoons Fresh Thyme Leaves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, minced
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1.5 teaspoons Shallots, minced
1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
.25 teaspoon Kosher Salt
.5 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
Combine all ingredients together in a medium-size mixing bowl, whisking until well blended.
Serving Suggestion: Use immediately, or roll in waxed or parchment paper into a log that is about 5 inches long and 1.25 inches in diameter, then wrap the log snugly in plastic wrap. The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to two months.
Cilantro Lime Marinade
Executive Chef Matthew Britt, Ceiba – Washington, DC
Yield: 2 cups
.5 can Chipotle in Adobo
.5 cup Lime Juice, fresh
2 each Garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Cilantro
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Olive Oil
Combine all ingredients in blender except oil and blend.
Slowly drizzle olive oil in to emulsify and reserve in the refrigerator to chill.
Enjoy the marinade over shrimp. It is best to coat the shrimp with the marinade roughly two hours prior to grilling to allow time for the flavor to set in.
For best results, season the marinated shrimp with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through. Serve with rice and lime wedges.
And of course, no barbecue is completed without a fabulous desert. Satisfy everyone’s sweet cravings with Chef Cory Bahr’s Banana Pudding.
Courtesy of Cory Bahr, Executive Chef, Cotton Restaurant
Yields: 8 servings
4 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened
1 each Egg
2 each Egg Yolks
3 each Ripe Bananas, chopped
6 ounces Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Steen’s Cane Syrup or Agave Nectar
1.3 cups All-Purpose Flour
.75 teaspoons Kosher Salt
.5 teaspoons Baking Soda
.25 teaspoons Baking Powder
.5 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
.25 teaspoons Ground Ginger
For brushing Spiced Rum
Cream together butter, egg, egg yolks, bananas, brown sugar and cane syrup.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and ground ginger.
Combine the wet and dry mixtures until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9 by 12 baking sheet. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn onto a baking rack, and brush with your favorite spiced rum.
Salted Caramel Pudding
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 cups Whole Milk
1 each Bourbon Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
.25 cups Corn Starch
1.25 cups White Sugar
4 ounces Unsalted Butter, cubed
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Whisk together Heavy Cream, Milk, Vanilla Bean & Corn starch, and set aside.
Add sugar to a sauce pot placed on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir sugar constantly until a rich brown caramel has formed. Slowly add the milk mixture to the caramel, whisking constantly. Cook until mixture has thickened and is very smooth. Whisk in butter and season with salt. Set aside to cool.
1 cup Heavy Cream
.25 cups White Sugar
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Beat together all ingredients until desired consistency forms.
8 each Mason Jars
2 each Whole Bananas, Sliced
Cut the banana bread using a round cookie cutter so bread fits into the bottom of the major jar.
Layer bread with sliced bananas and 4 ounces of the caramel pudding. Top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.
Note: Puddings are better after one day, as the flavors blend together.
photos courtesy of Andrew Evans/BBQ Joint, New South Grilling, Red Fish/Ralph Brennan and Cory Bahr.