Spring Grilling on the Bayou
Of course, any time is a great time to grill. Unless there is a foot of snow on the ground or a heat advisory warning, you can grill in East Texas. Spring, however, offers special inducements to break out the charcoal and send delicious odors wafting through the neighborhood. Here are three recipes to boost your backyard chef reputation. Try them on your family. You don’t even have to tell them you read them in the Jimp.
SMOKED BEEF RIBS
Nothing says barbecue better than ribs. Beef ribs make a great protein change that feeds your steak hunger while allowing you to soak up the BBQ atmosphere.
- 1 4-pound rack beef ribs (about 8 ribs)
- 6 to 8 dried guajillo chiles
- 1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
Prep the ribs: Put the ribs meaty-side down on a cutting board. Starting at one end, slide a chef’s knife under the membrane that covers the back of the rack and make a cut in the membrane. Loosen the membrane with the knife, then grab it and pull it off. (The ribs will still be covered by a thin membrane-leave this; it holds the ribs together.) Make the rub: Slit each chili open lengthwise. Shake out the seeds and remove the stems and inner membranes. Tear the chilis into small pieces and grind in a spice or coffee grinder until powdery. Combine the rosemary, garlic and 1/4 cup each ground chilis and salt in a bowl. Mix in the peanut oil. Marinate the ribs: Rub the back of the rib rack with about one-quarter of the spice mixture. Rub the rest on the meaty side. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
Prepare the grill: If you are not using a chimney, immediately buy one. It will save your BBQ experience. Here’s how to use a chimney. Stuff newspaper in the bottom of a chimney starter. Put it on the grill grate and fill with equal parts mesquite charcoal briquettes and mesquite wood chunks. Light the newspaper through the holes in the chimney. The charcoal and wood chunks will ignite. Allow the flames to die down and the coals to ash over. Remove the grill grate and dump the coals out of the chimney into the bottom of the grill, banking them to one side to create an indirect heat zone on the other side. Replace the grate.
Smoke the ribs: Lay the ribs, meaty side up, on a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the cooler side of the grill (indirect heat). If there’s space between your grill grates, use an extra-long piece of foil and let it hang down to the bottom of the grill, alongside the coals; this will help direct the smoke up toward the meat. Cover the grill and smoke until tender, 1 hour, 30 minutes to 2 hours, 30 minutes, turning every 20 minutes. You’ll need to feed the fire about every 45 minutes: Lift the grate and add about a half chimney’s worth of unlit briquettes and wood chunks to the hot coals.
Carve the ribs: Transfer the rib rack to a cutting board. Slice into individual ribs and serve immediately.
PHILIPPINE CHICKEN SKEWERS
Barbecued chicken skewers are both a backyard staple and a street food treat, and it seems like everyone has their own secret method for the marinade: It can be salty or sour, sweet or loaded with garlic.
For us, the perfect barbecue sauce for chicken is made with banana ketchup, soy sauce, sugarcane vinegar, and 7Up. It’s slightly sticky when cooked and develops a nice char as the sugars in the soda and ketchup caramelize, while the dark thigh meat (a must) stays tender and juicy.
Serve the skewers alone or over sinangag, with sawsawan made of diced onions, crushed garlic, black pepper and a bit of fish sauce, soy sauce and vinegar.
- 2 1/4 cups banana ketchup
- 1 cup 7Up- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup soy sauce- 1/2 cup white sugarcane vinegar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar- 1/4 cup minced garlic
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Cooking spray or vegetable oil, for greasing- Sawsawan, for serving
In a large nonreactive bowl, storage container, or Ziploc bag, mix together the banana ketchup, 7Up, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and garlic until the sugar has dissolved.Add the chicken pieces and toss.
Cover the bowl or container or seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.When you are ready to cook the meat, heat a grill pan over high heat or heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium.
Reserving the marinade, thread 3 or 4 pieces of chicken on each skewer, letting the pieces touch slightly, and set them on a plate or baking sheet.
Pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; set it aside.
Spray the pan or grill grate lightly with cooking spray. Place the skewers on the grill pan or grill and cook, turning them and basting them often with the heated marinade, until they are cooked through or the center of a piece of chicken registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. This should take between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on your cooking surface. (Discard any leftover marinade.)
Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, with sawsawan.
VEGETABLE MIXED GRILL
It’s so simple and so delicious. Veggies with the simple additions of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil taste incredible when grilled.
They’ll probably need more salt than you think, so don’t be shy! You can use any combination of the following veggies and even cook them in a frying pan instead of grilling if you want.
- 2 zucchinis, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 2 green bell peppers, cut into chunks
- 1/2 pound whole button mushrooms
- 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
Combine zucchinis, green bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onion in a large bowl.
Pour olive oil over vegetables and toss to evenly coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Place sheet of foil on grill so vegetables will not fall through.
Grill vegetables on grill until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
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