Friday, July 30, 2010

One Grill Meals

One of the benefits of cooking on the grill is preparing the entire meal there.  This limits the clean up considerably and makes cooking more simple.  Only foods that can be cooked on the grill get made.
Of course one easy way to accomplish this is to simply throw a few steaks on the grill and serve a good salad.  When tomatoes are ripe and meaty straight from the vine, you really don't need much else to go with a good steak.  But if you do want to have a side dish or two, here are some of my suggestions.

"Camp potatoes" are always a good option.  I just cut up some red and/or white potatoes, sprinkle them with some olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.  Wrap them in a heavy foil sprayed with food release.  I shape the foil to fit my grill rack keeping the main grill free for other foods.  I cook the potatoes about 45 minutes before putting on the meat and vegetables, turning once about halfway through cooking and making sure the grill temperature stays about 350F.  Then I raise the grill temperature and sear the steaks.  After turning the steaks, I put on a grill plate of asparagus, yellow squash or zucchini. 

Sometimes I do bok choy right on the grill next to whatever meat or fish I may have cooking.  I simply cut this in half, coat the cut side with olive oil and season.  I cook it cut side down for most of the cooking and trying to ensure the leaves do not get overly charred.

Of course grilled corn is always a favorite in the late Summer as well. All of the above make excellent grilled side dishes.

Since my new grill has a side burner, I will sometimes boil a pot of pasta while grilling up some shrimp.  With a plate of garlic, butter, white wine and some seasons simmering beside the shrimp, I just toss them them all together when the shrimp is cooked.  This makes an excellent summer pasta dish you can prepare outside.

Of course, if you have a outdoor gas pot, you can prepare a seafood boil which by it's original design, requires no additional food preparation unless you want to offer a previously prepared cold slaw.  My version contains red potatoes, corn, sausage and scallops (or any other good shellfish found at the local fish mongers.)  While it's boiling I chop up some fresh cilantro or basil from the garden to top the platter, while also preparing a few small (often Crenshaw) melons and filling them with port.  They can soak while we eat the low country boil, and they will make an excellent final course.

Why go to the trouble of running in and out while trying to grill.  Summer is all about simple, fresh foods easily prepared featuring their natural goodness.  I hope you'll cook your entire meal on the grill and take the time to enjoy summer with friends, family and good food.

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