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Striking ‘Coal’!

June 13, 2011


With summer just around the corner (although those of us in Boston today might argue it’s arrived with a vengeance at a toasty 93 degrees) grilling season is just heating up. Cooking in the summer is synonymous to most with barbecuing and grilling. However, for me, grilling is a new adventure. That’s not to say I haven’t been reaping the benefits of delicious grilled concoctions for twenty-some years now — but I have never been the grill master!

This summer I aim to change that — a goal that was recently made possible when my roommates and I stumbled upon a charcoal grill for $1(!) at a friend’s silent auction. We are grill novices at best, which we quickly discovered last weekend when it took three girls, two tries, flying flames, and a Google search to find out how to properly (and safely) light the coals. If any of our neighbors had been watching from afar, I’m sure it would’ve looked like a scene straight out of a sitcom. But eventually once we got it cooking (we literally got things cooking!) we enjoyed  some delicious food — chicken and vegetable kebabs.

This weekend I’ll be heading into the backwoods of West Virginia for a white-water rafting and camping adventure with some college friends. On our site we’ll only be equipped with a charcoal grill and mini refrigerator for four days. On the heels of my little grilling victory, coupled with being assigned responsibility for the last night’s dinner, I set out to discover a few interesting, delicious, and healthy recipes to add to my repertoire.

In my research I found an article in Mark Bittman’s “The Minimalist” column in The New York Times. The article, entitled “101 Fast Recipes for Grilling”, provides a comprehensive list of great new grilling ideas that are broken out in several categories, ranging from kebabs to desserts!  (Many of them I would have never considered!)  But now, with this article and my new grill, I am ready.  For your reading, and hopefully dining pleasure, I’ve listed one of his ideas from each category below. For the full list and article click here.

VEGETABLES & FRUIT
#9. Grilled guacamole: Halve and pit avocados; lightly char them, then scoop out the flesh. Grill halved red onion, too. Chop, combine, add tomatoes, lime, garlic and spices if you like.

MEAT
#30. Smear chicken leg quarters (or thighs) with a paste of garlic, chopped rosemary (thyme, too, if you like), olive oil and the juice of grilled lemon. Grill away from heat, covered; crisp briefly over high heat.

FISH & SHELLFISH
#42. Grill thick onion slices; purée in a blender with olive oil and lemon juice. Grill scallops for about four minutes; serve with the vinaigrette.

KEBAB
#67. Cubes of mango and chunks of white fish; brush with a mixture of soy, fish sauce, sriracha chili sauce and chopped mint or cilantro. Serve with a mai tai.

SALAD
#73. Lightly grill ripe figs; brush with balsamic. Chop and toss with arugula and blue cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil.

BURGERS
#76. Greek salad burger: Ground lamb with grated feta, chopped calamatas and a little oregano. Top with tomato, red onion and cucumber.

SANDWICHES & BREADS
#86. Grill bell peppers until blackened and collapsed; cover, cool and peel. Grill eggplant planks, brushed with olive oil (or pesto if you have it), until very tender. Make a sandwich with balsamic vinegar, mozzarella and basil. This is also good with strip or skirt steak: grill meat until medium-rare, then slice and salt.

DESSERTS
#93. An idea whose time has come: Halve and grill peaches, nectarines or apricots. Brush with barbecue sauce or, if you want to be sophisticated, a mixture of bourbon, sugar and mint, or simple syrup laced with basil.

–Casey

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