Summer is coming to an unfortunate end; rejoicing mothers sending their kids back to school, tan lines slowly fading into our normal winter coats, and afternoon beach bum days becoming a thing of the past. Before we know it, winter is upon us, and the majority of our population goes into hibernation. Here in Rhode Island, we take advantage of as many hot summer days as possible. As Chefs, summer is much more than sand and sunshine. Summer is the most succulent berries the market has to offer, and vegetables so large, prepping becomes more of a two man job. A chef’s summer is iced sweet and savory drink creations our inner mixologist has designed, eating an abundance of peak season produce before it’s too late, and organizing outdoor leisure dinners for friends and family. Most importantly, a chef’s summer is the grand day your outdoor grill system is relieved of that once snow piled cover, and begin some real cooking. Any grill master can recall that miraculous moment. Although we’re wrapping up the remainder of our vacation, mother nature remains to actively grant us with warm weather. Rather than dread on the season’s change, most the most of what’s left!
We’ve collected, compiled, and collaborated on some last minute grilling tips and food ideas:
Start off the right way:
- Once you’ve gotten those grates piping hot, scrub off any leftover debris hanging around from that last grilling session. Nothing looks better than nice, clean grill marks on a nice piece of steak!
- “Season” the grill, as they might say. Using a pair of tongs, and an old (but clean) towel, dip one end into some canola oil and evenly wipe the grates. This ensures your food doesn’t stick and especially go to waste.
- Invest in a thermometer! Nobody wants an overcooked piece of meat, but above all an undercooked one. Instead of picking, poking, checking and rechecking, resist the urge and buy this vital tool. Rather than consistently flipping, this gives the food time to properly sear one each side.
- Gather all the necessary needed for the job, especially for those large cookouts. Think about everything needed to get the job done: clean plates, utensils, napkins, aluminum foil, etc. Not only does this prevent running back and forth for material, but eliminates the possibility of cross contamination. Use a new, clean serving dish for all that perfectly grilled food you’ve cooked, being sure to separate it from any raw material.
You said grill, what? Innovative grilling ideas:
- Avocados – slice those buttery vegetables in half, keeping them in the shell. Lightly brush the sliced side with some oil, sprinkle with spice of choice (cumin, chili powder, cayenne, etc) and salt. Lay sliced side down on, and grill for 5 minutes. Remove from shell, mash it up in a bowl, add some fresh salsa, and you’ve got yourself a smoky guacamole.
- Citrus fruits – slice in half, and grill for 3 minutes. How about a orange bourbon drink with a charred kick? Or check out these smoky cocktails. http://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/article/5-cocktail-recipes-with-grilled-ingredients-like-plums-pineapple-lemon-orange-peach-and-tangerine
- Romaine Lettuce – cut the head in half, brush a bit of olive oil over the leafs, place on the hot racks, and grill for about 5 minutes or until marks appear. Drizzle the classic Caesar or your favorite dressing over those hot greens (but don’t forget to eat your vegetables, add a variety!) and dig in.
- Pound Cake – yup. Slice them up, brush with a bit of butter and grill on both sides. Scoop a little vanilla bean ice-cream and warm berries over the buttery cake for the ultimate summer comfort food.
- Shellfish – nothing says New England grilling like throwing some mussels, oysters or clams over a hot flame. Place them on the grill racks, brush a bit with olive oil and within 3-5 minutes, those salty little shells will pop open before your eyes! Just make sure to clean them off in a bucket of water before grilling away.