Let's Have a Cookout - Part II
Best practices and recipes for a successful cookout.
We just had a cookout last week for my birthday. It was a complete success. We practiced the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple Sweetheart.
Here are the steps that led to success:
- Paper plates. The party shouldn't be a burden to anyone.
- Hors D'Oeurves. Very important. We had vegetable sticks with salad dressing, basil pesto, hot pepper salad and humus -- all with crackers. This allows for when the guests all arrive at different times. They can immediately have something to eat while they chill and enjoy each other as you light the fire and get the main meal ready.
- Baked potatoes. These were made before the party started in the oven. The oven was set at 200 F so you can add whatever whenever to keep it warm.
- Cole slaw (see Cabbage Head). Easy to make and it keeps well so you can make it early in the day.
- Lots of drinks, including some beer and a little of the hard stuff. Start saving ice a few days before or pick up a few bags that day.
- I made a big fire so I didn't have to add coal all night. I had a fan nearby to use to get the fire roaring and to perk it up when it became a little mellow.
- Hot dogs, hamburgers and steak. Steak on the back of the grill, while the hot dogs and burgers were in the front. The hot dogs and hamburgers finished quickly, giving everyone something to eat. Those who could delay gratification got the steaks. After a good amount of burgers and hot dogs were done, we filled the grill with steaks.
- Apple crisp. Surprise! The best tasting apple crisp I ever had in my life and no one expected it. My daughter, Tzipora, surprised us all.
- Many good presents for me. What a nice party!
A LITTLE MORE ON FLAVOR: BEEF, CHICKEN AND FISH
Just as with any food, flavoring takes place before the food is grilled or after the food is cooked.
Flavoring beforehand is usually done by marinating. Marinating can be minutes or days. Flavoring after grilling can be salt, pepper, and miscellaneous spices or a sauce hot or cold.
Beef is best if it is aged. Buy fresh or defrost frozen. Leave it in your refrigerator a few days, not soaking in its juices. Then begin seasoning or marinating. Beef for grilling is best marbled with fat. Brush it with oil before grilling. Cook briefly and quickly over a high heat. Leave it on the grill without moving it so the distinctive grill marks show and you look real professional. Your finger can determine doneness -- soft, firm and juice is what you're looking for. Take it off, cover with foil to keep it warm, let it rest for 5 minutes before eating.
Chicken opposite of meat, the fresher the better. Chicken should be cut into uniform pieces for even cooking. Make shallow cuts open to the greatest surface area to flavor smoke and heat. It will allow marinades to enter the chicken. Chicken should be room temperature before grilling. If you are grilling a lot of chicken, you can precook it for 15 minutes or until completely done. Transfer to the grill before the guests arrive to finish it off. Chicken is done when it is opaque and with no trace of pink at the bone.
Fish cooks quickly. Grill briefly to keep it tender. Keep the skin on the fish to protect it and enjoy the crispy finished product. Cut deep slashes through the skin of fillets and to the bone to allow flavor, smoke and heat to penetrate. Put plenty of oil to prevent dry fish. Fish should be put into a marinade for a short time. Use a hinged rack to turn the fish and keep it whole. Avoid over-cooking.
GRILLED TUNA WITH SPECIAL HERBED MAYONNAISE
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 tbsps. Vinegar
- 2 tbsps. basil, fresh or dry
- 2 tsps. fresh thyme
- 2 tsps. tarragon, dry
- 2 large cloves, chopped or frozen
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 4 7-oz. tuna steaks
Mix oil, vinegar, basil, thyme, and tarragon. Place mayonnaise in a separate bowl, mix with 1 ½ tbsps. marinade.
Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Place fish in marinade, coat evenly for 1 hour.
Oil grill rack. Prepare coals (med.). Grill fish for 3 minutes per side. Top fish with herbed mayonnaise and serve.
GRILLED CHICKEN WITH LEMON, ROSEMARY AND DIJON
- 8 large skinned chicken breasts
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 6 tbsps. mustard
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- ½ cup margarine
- 1 ½ tbsps. chopped rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Place chicken in a glass baking dish. Whisk ¼ cup lemon juice, 4 tbsps. mustard. Add black pepper. Pour over chicken. Cover, chill 2 hours.
Melt margarine over medium heat. Add rosemary, garlic, ¼ cup lemon juice and 2 tbsps. mustard. Simmer basting sauce 5 minutes.
Prepare coals (medium). Put 3 tbsps. sauce in a small bowl and reserve. Place chicken on rack. Cover, grill 2 minutes. Uncover, grill until cooked, basting occassionally with sauce from the pan 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate, baste with reserved sauce 3 tbsps.
- 1 tbsp. koshering salt.
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. dried ground thyme
- 1 tsp. finely ground beans
- 4 thick rib steaks
Mix all ingredients. Rub on both sides of the steaks. Let stand 1 hour.
Grill steaks on a hot grill 2 minutes on each side. Remove steaks. When the fire dies down, return the steaks, cover the barbecue with lid, grill about 10 minutes for medium rare. Let the steaks rest 5 minutes before serving.