I'm not an established Grill Person. I don't watch shows or buy cookbooks about grilling. That said, I am even less of a Washing Pans Person, so when I received a spanking-new Broil Mate, I was overjoyed. Can we just all mentally insert a blurb about how lovely and appropriate grilling is in summer months? It is. There — we all agree.
My dad is a charcoal guy. He's a better cook than I am, so I won't dispute its merits; I just prefer ease and speed. Hence, propane propane, as Bubbles would say, which we all know is as easy as pushing a button.
I like grilling chicken. It is the only time I purchase boneless, skinless breasts. Shrimp are an excellent protein to grill, too, because cooking time is so easy to deduce — they're done when they turn entirely pink and have a few blackened edges. There are all sorts of excellent marinades, but often I want to cook right now, so I cut to the chase by making a flavorful dipping sauce, like the following great peanut one. It's a little spicy, so lightly seasoned grilled protein makes a harmonious match. You can cut chicken breasts into strips and skewer them in "S" forms, brush them with oil and sprinkle a little salt, then grill for them for 4 minutes on each side. The same can be done with whole prawns, peeled or unpeeled. Throw together a cold lentil salad or a cucumber salad with fish sauce and sugar, and rice if you are hungry.
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's mostly stuff you have in the fridge anyway, except for the raw, unsalted, whole Spanish peanuts. You can get those at Asian groceries or online. They really make a difference, but you can use unsalted regular peanuts from the bulk bins if you just can't wait.
½ cup raw unsalted whole Spanish peanuts
1 small, fresh jalapeno pepper
1 small knuckle of peeled ginger
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
Juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 handful fresh cilantro
Fry the peanuts in a little oil until they begin to darken and emit a toasty aroma. Don't burn them. Put all the ingredients in blender or food processor and whir until saucy. Makes a generous cup.
I know how Greek food can sometimes seem like a one-trick pony. When it comes to charred meats, however, the Greeks are global contenders. Serve this with tzatziki and bread.
Pork ribs (baby back are best)
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 generous grind of black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
(Greek oregano is best, see "Add to Cart," April 3)
Mix the oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and oregano and marinate the meat for an hour. Massage the marinade into the meat and grill, poking and turning often, for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Tzatziki is so good. Good on bread, good on salad, really good with grilled meat. My father always strains his own yogurt, but I just buy Greek yogurt (sorry, Pop). It is thriftier to strain your own, though. Just dump regular yogurt in a clean dishtowel, bundle it up with a string and hang it up to drip over the sink for an hour.
2 cups yogurt
1 peeled and seeded cucumber, coarsely grated
1 big garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 grind of black pepper
Squeeze the cucumber shreds over the sink to remove excess water. Add it to other ingredients and mix. Let stand for 15 minutes. Adjust the salt and lemon juice to your taste.