Summer is a time for family, friends and neighbors to get together and break bread. And when the weather is so giving, it only makes sense that meals are held outside as often as possible. BBQs flush with food, music, fresh air and conversation strengthens ties, solutes the sun and offer healthy ways to prepare the foods we are lucky enough to find so bountiful during the season’s sun-shining months. So grab your neighbors, and put together a delicious homemade menu for the BBQ.
Since we’re all the creative type here, what with our imaginations to repurpuse objects, find the beauty in the disregarded and craft something out of nothing, we might as well channel these energies to man’s most definitive discovery: fire. Burgers, dogs, sausages, they’re all great, but what can we do that is surprising, unusual, or downright weird? Here’s a list to get you started.
Clams are so delicious in the summer, plus they’re easy, quick and relatively inexpensive. And cooking them on the grill is fun! The cooking process is so quick, as is the eating, that you’ll be firing them up and popping them in your mouth as you go. A perfect snack to keep the fam gathered at the hearth.
Scrub and soak your littleneck clams but keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to use them. Place the clams directly on the grill and cover for 2 minutes. They’re done when they’ve popped open – if the never open, throw them out, there’s always one or two in a bunch. Remove the clams as they’re ready, and continue to add more to the grill as there’s room.
When removing the clams, be mindful not to spill out any of their natural delicious juices. Set them in a large, shallow bowl with any of the following combinations:
That’s right, an octopus. Your local fish monger might have these frozen, otherwise ask them to order one for you, and 99% of the time, it will be cleaned and ready to be cooked – just check with them to make sure. Working with a thawed, whole octopus, beat the head and tentacles with a meat tenderizer or a hard, wide implement. Spend about 15 minutes on the beating. (eek, I know.) What you’re doing is tenderizing the meat so it isn’t too chewy. After your workout, add the octopus into a bag or non-reactive bowl along with a marinade of vinegar, black pepper and olive oil. Let it soak over night.
Fire up the grill and place the whole octopus directly on it. Depending on the weight of the octopus and heat of the grill, your octpus will take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. Continue to baste the octopus with the marinade as it cooks. Use a sharp knife to check the resistance – when it gives you a slight push back, you’re ready to go.
You and seven friends are in for a treat.
Who said meat has to take the center stage of a grill fest? Probably the same people that said salad has to be served in bowls. Clearly, these people never had Salad Kababs. Be creative and put whatever you want on your kabab, just follow the one golden skewer rule: make sure all the pieces are relatively the same size.
Take your favorite salad items and skewer them to grill, or try the following combinations:
Speaking of Salads…
Quarter a head of romaine the long way so that the root keeps each of the 4 pieces together. Lightly brush with olive oil and put the lettuce cut-side down directly on the grill. Char till you have gorgeous grill marks. Serve with any of the following:
Not everyone knows what to do with this knobby creature, but we got an easy, sure fire winner right here. As you’re getting your grill geared up, cut the celery root in half and place it cut-side down on the grill, letting it sit in the low-heat section for a while. You’ll know it’s done when it’s heavily charred on the outside, but it’ll be creamy like mashed potato on the inside. It’s important to cook the root until well-done so that all of it’s natural bitterness has left the building.
Mama Mia Pizza Pie
You can make your life easy by buying some ready made dough from your local pizzaria or the grocery store – we won’t tell. After getting the ball of dough home, let it warm to room temperature and form into baby-head sized balls. Roll out (use a rolling pin or empty wine bottle) and place directly onto the grill. After grill marks start to appear, flip with tongs and coat the cooked side with olive oil. Once grill marks appear on the new bottom side, flip it over, throw your cooked toppings on the pizza and cover until they are heated through – should be only a minute or two so as not to over-cook the crust. Try these pizza combinations:
A Burger From Another Mother
Cheese burgers? Done. Turkey, veggie and lamb burgers? Also done. Not to disrespect the classic with cheese, but try these variations, why don’t ya.
Whether you go green, red, orange, or the mysterious white bell pepper, the almost spicy banana pepper, or the slightly spicier poblano pepper, you can place the pepper directly on the grill and let the outside char. Grill it on all sides and when thoroughly charred, place them in a bowl and tightly cover so they steam from their own emanating moisture. After 5 minutes, uncover and douse with olive oil and salt. Serve whole or cut in half. Add vinegar to allude to the Italian style of marinated roasted red pepper.
Don’t Forget The Fruit
For a slightly sweet affair and a gorgeous desert, experiment with some fruit on the grill. When choosing your fruit, go for the more firm pieces and feel free to garnish and serve with something that has a nice contrasting texture and temperature. Or, you can always let it stand on its own.
Are You The Grill Master?
Since there are pretty much endless varieties of foods to set on a grill, and we haven’t even touched on smoking, please tell us what makes you the master of your own grill. Any interesting favorites in your household? Anything you’ve always thought about trying but haven’t yet? Let us hear all about it.