For people who are slightly more sane, though, the grilling season began as of Memorial Day weekend.
There is something primal about grilling, the combination of flame and raw meat (or vegetable or fruit or even pizza) that tugs at the caveman within and makes us feel unified with our wild ancestors. It awakens inside us the satisfaction felt by early man after a successful hunt, knowing they would be well fed for several days.
And not to belabor the point, but grilling also happens to be delicious.
Flame, fat and food. It is cooking at its most elemental. It's easy, and it's a simple way to get big flavors out of food. And that may explain why, when we grill, we tend to grill foods that are easy and require little preparation.
The most commonly grilled foods are hot dogs, hamburgers and steak, in that order. Each is easy, none requires much work or thought at all. Each is adequate in its own way, but nothing special. That's why we're not going to talk about any of them.
Except steak. We're going to talk about steak. And chicken, lamb and corn. And a marmalade and chocolate sandwich.
Leaves from 6 sprigs marjoram, about 5 inches long
Leaves from 6 sprigs rosemary, about 5 inches long
8 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick, about 8 ounces each
In a mortar or mini food processor, pound or process the marjoram, rosemary, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, cognac, olive oil and black pepper into a coarse paste. Rub paste evenly on both sides of the steaks. Allow the steaks to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1½ hours before grilling.
Grill directly over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until crusty on the outside, about 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Allow to rest briefly before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 467 calories; 18g fat; 5g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 67g protein; 5g carbohydrate; no sugar; 0.5g fiber; 825mg sodium; 40mg calcium.
Recipe from “The Rose Pistola Cookbook,” by Reed Hearon and Peggy Knickerbocker
2 pounds cut-up chicken, your favorite pieces
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups sour orange juice (or 2 1/2 cups lime juice and 1 1/2 cups orange juice), see note
1 cup pineapple juice
Note: Sour orange juice is also called bitter orange juice and is often available at Hispanic food markets.
Pat chicken dry. With edge of knife or mortar and pestle, mash together garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper until it forms a coarse paste. A sprinkling of kosher salt will help it form a paste, if necessary. Spread paste evenly over chicken.
Mix together sour orange juice and pineapple juice in a large bowl. Add chicken to the juices, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
Arrange grill for indirect cooking and heat to medium hot. Place chicken on the side of the grill away from the heat, and cover. Cook 40 to 50 minutes for white meat, 1 hour for dark meat, turning once.
Serve with rice and black beans.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Per serving (based on 4): 135 calories; 5g fat; 1g saturated fat; 45mg cholesterol; 17g protein; 5g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 345mg sodium; 30mg calcium.
Recipe adapted from notmakeuprecipes.blogspot.com
1 (4-pound) boneless leg of lamb
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoons ground ginger
Unroll and pat dry the leg of lamb. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, cumin and ginger. Roll the lamb in the bowl to coat all sides, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
Prepare a hot grill for indirect heat. Cook on the part of the grill away from the heat, covered, for 1 hour or until cooked medium rare or medium (140 to 160 degrees). Remove from heat and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving.
Makes 2 to 4 servings
Per serving (based on 10): 360 calories; 23g fat; 7.5g saturated fat; 120mg cholesterol; 36g protein; 1g carbohydrate; 0.5g sugar; no fiber; 90mg sodium; 20mg calcium.
Recipe by Daniel Neman
Grilled corn on the cob
Soak ears of corn, still in the husk, in water at least 15 minutes.
Set on grate over medium-high fire. Cook 15 minutes, turning occasionally, or until you smell corn cooking. Shuck before serving with butter and salt.
Per serving: 100 calories; 1.5g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; 4g protein; 21g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 2.5g fiber; 1mg sodium; 3mg calcium.
Recipe by Daniel Neman
Grilled chocolate and marmalade sandwich
2 slices white bread
1 ounce chocolate
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
Place chocolate on 1 slice of bread, covering as much of the bread as you can. You may have to break or chop the chocolate to do so. Spread the marmalade on the other slice, and put the slices together as a sandwich. Brush melted butter on both sides of the sandwich.
Place on a medium hot grill and cook until both pieces of bread are toasted and have grill marks and the chocolate is melted, turning once. Covering the grill will help it cook faster.
Per sandwich: 415 calories; 16g fat; 4g saturated fat; 15mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 65g carbohydrate; 40g sugar; 3g fiber; 220mg sodium; 130mg calcium.
Recipe by Daniel Neman
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