All posts tagged: weeknight grill

Grilled Asparagus with Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

When you’re in a CSA, spring is the toughest season. The weather has finally turned, green leaves are appearing everywhere…but mother nature is teasing. There’s nothing for the CSA box yet. It’s too soon. The first CSA box of spring is kind of sad. Sure, there are a couple of big bags of mixed greens. And turnip greens, and beet greens, and maybe some radishes or green onions. I appreciate them after a winter of storage vegetables. But they rattle around in the bottom of a box that will be overflowing come July. When is spring really here? When the asparagus appears. Suddenly, I don’t care what else is in the box; the star of spring vegetables has arrived. Here’s my favorite way to cook asparagus – grilling. (Of course.) I toss the asparagus in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette, both before and after it’s cooked. The grains of mustard cling to the asparagus, and add little bursts of flavor and heat. Special thanks to Amy, Liz, Nate, Nikki, Hyungmo, and Alysha, my farmers at …

Grilled Korean Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps (Daeji Bulgogi)

Gochujang is Korean red pepper paste. It has the color of ketchup, spreads like tomato paste, and has a fiery afterburn. I tasted it, then had to restrain myself from eating it straight out of the tub. If you like trendy ingredients, get in on Gochujang now. I think it is going to be the next big breakout flavor, like chipotles in adobo, or sriracha. Gochujang is the main ingredient in Korean barbecue’s spicy marinades, and their accompanying dipping sauces. It can be found at most Asian markets. (Or on the internet, of course.) I hear Sunchang brand mentioned a lot, but my experience is limited to the one tub I’m slowly using up. Pork Belly is traditional in Korea’s Daeji Bulgogi. Get thin sliced pork belly from your Asian market, or give your local butcher a call. My Asian market had ultra-thin sliced pork belly in the freezer case. It was cut like bacon, about 1/16th of an inch thick…which was a pain. I had to be careful to keep it from tearing as …

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Garlic, Mustard, and Green Onion Marinade

As a food blogger, I have to cook ahead of the curve. My family is getting used to early holidays. I need to test the (fill in the blank: Thanksgiving turkey, Chinese New Year stir fry, Christmas roast beast) recipe so I can post it ahead of time. Also, as a food blogger, I write because I love it, not because I’m raking in the mad cash. I have to keep my day job to pay for my blogging habit. Every now and again, these two collide. I had grand plans for a St. Patrick’s day feast, probably involving a lamb stew. Then the project I’ve worked on for a year installed over the weekend. The install went about as well as I could have hoped, but there were a string of minor issues and unrelated problems that kept me working from Friday morning until slightly after Midnight on Sunday morning. Not to mention juggling sick kids all week. Is it just me, or has this been a particularly bad winter for colds? My grand …

Grilled Mexican Short Rib Tacos with Poblanos, Onions, Pineapple, and Tomatillo Salsa

Why heat up a grill and only cook meat? I want to grill everything. EVERYTHING. Taco night is the perfect grilled meal, because I don’t have to turn on the stove. I found thin-cut short ribs at my local Mexican market. They are the same cut I use for Korean grilled ribs, but I went with a Mexican lime-garlic marinade. For the rest of the meal, I’m using recipes I’ve mentioned on the blog before, mainly to use up the veggies I got from my CSA box. I’m grilling tomatillo salsa, peppers and onions, and pineapple. *Even the tortillas are warmed up on the grill. I wrap the stack of flour tortillas in aluminum foil, then heat them while I grill everything else. My grill is big enough to handle all this food at once. If your grill is smaller, cook in two batches. Start with the vegetables and fruit; they take longer. The thin-cut short ribs cook through in about five minutes, so cook them as the second batch; while the ribs cook, make …

Grill-Roasted Chicken Breasts Dry Brined with Herbs

After my picky eater rant, I need some comfort food. Roast chicken. On the grill of course. *And yes, my picky eaters will eat it. Or, at least, they’ll have a few bites. If you insist on grilling over direct heat, chicken pieces are hard. Direct heat means huge flareups as chicken fat drips onto the coals. You have to constantly move the chicken, and if your attention falters for even a second, the result is burned chicken. I prefer a more relaxed method – using indirect heat and grill roasting the chicken, with a quick sear over direct heat at the end to crisp up the skin. Today I’m cooking chicken breasts. I usually prefer dark meat, because it has more flavor…but bone in breasts were on sale at the grocery store. That’s OK – as long as the chicken breasts are not overcooked, no more than 155°F to 160°F, they will be tender and juicy. I rubbed the chicken with my favorite dry brine, equal parts kosher salt and minced herbs. Any mix …

Kofta Kebab

I was a little harsh about my oldest in that New York Times interview the other day. It’s true that a few years ago he was a starchitarian (all carbs, all the time), but he has branched out. Kofta Kebabs are his new favorite food; he asks me to make them about once a week. *Will he eat fruit or vegetables willingly? No, not yet. I keep hoping… Kofta is a Middle Eastern dish of ground meat mixed with onion and spices. (Think Middle Eastern meatloaf.) The Kebab version is popular in Turkey and India, where kofta is wrapped around a long skewer and spices on a skewer. (Meatloaf on a stick!) This was a tough recipe to get right. I loved the taste, and if I made them into hamburger-style patties, everything worked fine. But wanted to cook them on kebabs – it felt more authentic, and there’s something about food on a skewer that makes it taste better. But – the ground meat mix wouldn’t hold together. I think it was the frozen …

Grilled Foot Long Hot Dogs

I’m on vacation this week. I’m taking the easy way out and grilling hot dogs. Throw ’em on the grill, turn after a few minutes, and serve. I can’t help myself. Even when I take the easy way out…I don’t take the easy way out. I found foot long hot dogs at my local megamart and topped them with everything I could find in the refrigerator. Leftover chili? Check. Pickle relish? Yep. Chop some onions, and get every jar of pickles and bottle of mustard. Let’s load up them dogs! Recipe: Grilled Foot Long Hot Dogs Cooking time: 6 minutes Ingredients: 12 (foot long) hot dogs 12 (foot long) hot dog buns Condiment suggestions: Mustard (cheap yellow, grainy, sweet-hot) Pickles (pickle relish, dill spears, jalapenos) Chili (I make big batches of chili, to make sure I always have some in the freezer) Cheese (shredded cheddar, slices of American) Grilled peppers and onions Chopped raw onions Sauerkraut Ketchup – Never! Directions: 1. Grill the hot dogs:Preheat the grill to medium heat, and clean the grill grate. …

Grilled Swordfish With Greek Salad

Swordfish is great for grilling. It is a very firm-fleshed fish, and holds together where other fish flake apart. If you are just starting out with grilling fish, try swordfish. Swordfish may be easy to grill, but it is very mild-tasting. I marinate swordfish in olive oil with lemon, oregano, and a pinch of sugar. This gives it a crunchy browned crust on the grill. Then I serve it with a Greek salad full of olives, feta cheese, and grilled peppers and onions. The result is a balance of opposites—mild, meaty swordfish meets crunchy, bold salad. Now, if you’ve been around for a while (like me), you might be thinking: Swordfish? Isn’t it endangered? What happened to “Give swordfish a break?“ Your memory isn’t failing you. Swordfish was in trouble back in the ’90s, and there was a campaign to save it. Thanks to good fisheries management, North Atlantic swordfish had fully recovered by 2009. Buy swordfish that was caught in North American waters and give your conscience a break—our swordfish is sustainable, and will …

Beer Cooler Sous Vide Salmon with Fennel Salad

I saw this video of Nathan Myhrvold and Melissa Clark making sous vide salmon, and I knew what I was making for dinner. Beer Cooler Salmon, here I come! *Someday I’ll get my own copy of Modernist Cuisine…someday… In the original, Mr. Myhrvold didn’t even bother with a beer cooler. He uses a regular pot and adds hot water to keep the temperature at 116*F as necessary. I went with my beer cooler because (1) I’m used to it, and (2) my wife told me she was going to be late getting home, and I had to hold the salmon for an hour and a half instead of the suggested 30 minutes. The cooler’s insulation kept the water exactly where I needed it. Grilling cooked salmon is delicate work – it wants to flake apart. Be gentle, and assume at least one filet will have a big wedge of salmon slide loose. Another key to this recipe is a diligently cleaned grill. Brush the grates until all the carbonized remains are gone, and all that is left is the …

Grilled Guacamole with Sun Dried Tomatoes

It’s Super Bowl week! The Super Bowl is the fifth most important American food holiday. Time for recipes for your party! *Thanksgiving, Christmas, Forth of July, Memorial Day, Super Bowl. Actually, I think the Super Bowl has passed the Forth of July and Memorial Day, and moved up to #3, right behind Christmas… Guacamole is a Super Bowl* standby, but it has a couple of problems. The first is ripe avocados. Sometimes they are perfect; black on the outside, soft on the inside. Other times they’re not ready yet – green with black on the bumps, or even worse, an entirely green peel. Green avocado peel translates to rock hard. I solve the “not ready yet” problem by grilling the avocados. This softens them up and adds a smoky flavor to the guacamole. *I know I’m not supposed to use the copyrighted phrase “Super Bowl” if I haven’t paid licensing rights to the NFL. I’m supposed to use a euphemism like “the big game”. When their lawyers come to get me, you’ll know why. **Hopefully …

Pan Grilled Bratwurst with Onions and Peppers

My family tree has roots in Wisconsin. Brats are in my blood. *I grew up here in Ohio, but I was born in the University of Wisconsin Hospital. I love brats, especially with peppers and onions. Now, I know this is sacrilegious, but the Sheboygan “beer bath” technique…it has some issues. Don’t get me wrong, it turns out great brats. But the onions are just there to flavor the beer bath; they are not worth serving with the bratwurst. That’s why I use the technique in this recipe. I cook the brats in a sealed pan, on a bed of onions and peppers, with only the slightest amount of beer added. The peppers and onions are cooked to perfection in the fat that escaped the brats. I love these peppers and onions; they are the star of the show, almost better than the brats themselves. The brats are cooked in the steam from the pan, then crisped up on the exterior over the heat of the grill. This avoids the huge flare-ups that come from …

Grilled Pork Chops with Chinese Marinade

I got home from vacation, and I was tired. Vacation was a lot of fun, but we kept busy – cottage vacations involve a lot of splashing around in Lake Erie. The first thing I did was unload the car. The second was grocery shopping – the refrigerator was bare. It was late in the afternoon, and three cranky kids needed dinner. (Not to mention two cranky parents.) What to do? I went straight for the bone-in pork chops. Cooking on the bone boosts the flavor of the chops. And, believe me, modern pork needs that boost. Now, for quick grilling, I have a rule – if it won’t be ready by the time the grill preheats, don’t make it. That leaves fifteen minutes for the marinade to work. Fifteen minutes of marinade is not going to do it with boneless chops. *I need an hour to brine boneless chops. And, even then, I’d rather spend that hour brining bone-in chops. These pork chops have a Chinese flavor profile. Why? I would like to say …

Grilled Salmon With Coriander-Fennel Spice Rub

I was in the mood for seafood. What was waiting for me at the fish market? Absolutely gorgeous wild Alaska king salmon. *Yes, it was expensive. It was worth every nickel. With fish this good, my goal is…to not screw it up. I grill it simply, with salt and a light spice rub, to medium doneness, with a hint of pink still in the middle. My goal is to showcase the buttery salmon, giving it a touch of spice crust and a suggestion of smoke. *Can you tell I love really good salmon? I feel like I’m writing a romance novel here. If you want to get the best value in wild salmon, mid to late summer is the time to shop. The king salmon harvest starts in May; by July all the salmon runs are happening, and prices drop as the supply increases. Now, don’t get me wrong. Wild salmon still commands a premium price*, but the price does come down a bit this time of year. *Wild salmon should command a premium price …

Pan Grilled Green Beans

Pan Grilling is an excellent technique to add to your grilling toolbox. Using a pan on the grill lets you cook side dishes that would either burn or fall through the grill grates. Cast iron was the original grill pan – picture a cowboy chef working over a campfire – but requires careful maintenance to avoid rust. Enameled steel is another good choice. It doesn’t even out the heat as well as cast iron, but it is lighter, and can handle the extreme heat of a grill. Enameled cast iron is more expensive, easy to care for, and spreads out the heat as well as plain cast iron. I love Weber’s new enameled cast iron griddle. The rounded shape with short handles fits well on my kettle grill.*I would like a large oval or half-moon griddle shape even more – something that fits up against the side of the grill would be perfect. Unfortunately, all the oval griddles I can find are too small. Once the grill is heated up, why waste the heat? Pan …

Grilled Shitake Mushrooms, Yakitori Style

A vegetarian is coming to my cookout, and I’m grilling dinner. What do I do? Grab some mushrooms. Grilling is a great way to cook mushrooms; it enhances their “meaty” flavor. *My apologies to any vegetarians out there. I don’t know how else to describe the flavor. It’s the umami; mushrooms are loaded with umami, and the best way to describe umami is as a “meaty” taste. **At least, that’s what Wikipedia says, so I’m sticking with it. I usually grill portobello mushrooms; they are easy to grill (because they are so big) and the results are perfect to stuff a vegetarian burger. I had some shitake mushrooms lying around from my CSA, and needed to use them up. My sister, the vegetarian in the family, was coming for a cookout, so I grilled the shitakes for her. A few minutes after they came off the grill, she had cornered me, demanding the recipe for my brother-in-law. I tried one, and was amazed at the difference between the shitakes and the portobellos. Portobellos are thick, …

Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers with Coconut Curry Baste

Has a recipe ever called out to you? It happens to me fairly often. As I leaf through a new cookbook, a recipe will catch my eye, and suddenly I’m a man with a mission. “That’s it! I have to make that!” *Next comes a comparison of the ingredients list with the food in my pantry, usually followed by an urgent grocery run. It gets really bad when I’m in the grip of a new recipe mania, and events conspire against me. (Like, say, kids with t-ball games, multi-hour recipes I discover on a weeknight, or thunderstorms when I need to grill.) I’m an addict, and I need my cooking fix. It’s not pretty. I had this experience with Matt Armendariz’s On a Stick. I took one look at the picture of Red Curry Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers, and I knew what was for dinner. I had everything except for the pineapple. A quick trip to the grocery store, and I was cooking. Later, after dinner, I took the time to actually read the recipe. …

Grilled Pork Chops with Bourbon Brine and Baste

I know boneless pork loin is bland. But when it’s on sale, I can’t help myself – I grab a package from my local megamart. “What a deal!” I think…until it is time to cook it. Then I start to kick myself . What was I thinking? What can I do to make boring pork loin something I want to eat? Couldn’t I at least have bought bone-in pork chops? (No, they weren’t on sale.) Then, inspiration crawled out of the bottle. Bourbon pork chops suddenly sounded delicious. *In fact, I’d rather have this bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy! Hahahaha…ahem. Sorry. My inner 13 year old got loose again. I added bourbon to my brine, then basted the pork chops with a mix of bourbon, butter, and brown sugar. The bourbon adds a smoky, complex flavor to an otherwise straightforward recipe. I didn’t realize how alliterative this recipe was until just now. There sure are a lot of “B”s in there… Now, I always hesitate to cook with something I would …

Grilled Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw

I missed my one chance at San Diego’s famous fish tacos. Back when I was a fledgling food fanatic, I made my lone visit to San Diego. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a fish taco. That is, until I got home. Then, every magazine I read for the next year had an article about the glories of fish tacos. Doh! I had to learn to make them myself, to find out what I had missed. Nowadays, instead of the traditional fried version, I grill my fish tacos. Mahi-mahi is my fish of choice. It is sustainable (according to Seafood Watch), easy to find in my local stores, and relatively inexpensive. Mahi-mahi is a firm fleshed white fish with a neutral taste; it works well as a carrier for spice rubs, and the firm flesh does not disintegrate when I flip it on the grill. Mahi-mahi’s neutral taste (read: bland) needs some help. I like my meal to have some punch, so I rub the fish with spices, including chipotle chile powder …

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Lime Dressing

I wanted to know what else I could do with bok choy, an ingredient that always looks good at the farmers market this time of year. The answer from my loyal readers – grill it! *Why didn’t I think of that? It should have been obvious to me, Mr. Winter Grilling, Mr. Everything tastes better grilled. Recipes for grilled bok choy all use the same basic technique. Purchase baby bok choy – small heads, 4 to 5 inches long, are better for grilling.  Split them, then trim the leaves on the top so they won’t burn on the grill. Toss the bok choy in a flavorful vinaigrette, then grill until tender and cooked through. *Martha Stewart’s recipe was the first one recommended, and was a good one. What do you know – Martha knows what she’s talking about! **Kidding! Just kidding! I may have some issues with Martha, but when it comes to recipes, I love her perfectionism. Her recipes just work. Most of the recipes had an Asian flavor profile; bok choy is an …

Korean Grilled Beef Lettuce Wraps (Bulgogi)

Bulgogi makes me ask: Why haven’t I heard more about Korean grilling? It is beautifully simple; thin sliced beef with a quick marinade, served in a lettuce wrap. *And then it is topped with with kimchi. I’m not sure I’m sold on the kimchi part. But the rest? Genius. For bulgogi, you want a tender cut, one that would be used for American steaks.  My favorite is rib eye, but New York strip or sirloin are also good. The steak is sliced very thin, marinated in a sweet soy marinade, grilled quickly, wrapped in lettuce, and served. It is quick enough to cook on a weeknight, and uses pantry ingredients (though my parents may differ).  And the taste? My wife demanded I make it again. She’s the one who usually asks for me to cook more vegetables. The only hard part about Bulgogi is slicing the beef. You can cut the beef yourself, 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick, from a small roast. *This requires a steady hand. Steadier than I am able to muster. The one …