If you are hosting a barbecue for friends or having a quiet dinner with your family, here are some recipes that are guaranteed to please everyone! I like to take advantage of the grill when I’m cooking, and make a combination of foods so my guests have choices. Some of my favorites are lemon-thyme chicken, marinated flank steak, and Italian sausages. If there are children coming add hamburgers or hot dogs to the menu. Marinating helps keep meats juicy and tender. The simplest marinade of all is Italian salad dressing! Place your meats in a plastic bag, pour in some dressing and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. That’s it – the easiest and tastiest food you’ve ever barbecued! Grilled fruits and vegetables are excellent paired with meats. My favorites are pineapple, corn on the cob, onions, and peaches or nectarines. Halve or cut into thick slices, brush both sides with vegetable oil and grill until lightly browned. Watch out, they can burn easily because of the natural sugars. Shuck the corn, discarding the husks and silks. Place the raw corn directly on the oiled grill and cook for a few minutes or until lightly charred. Serve with melted butter.
You can serve the meats and chicken as is or you can make my Root Beer BBQ sauce and brush it on at the end of cooking. If you are using a sauce, cook meat nearly all the way through on direct heat then move to the cooler side of the grill, mop with sauce, and finish cooking 1 to 2 minutes on each side.
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When cooking any meats, never use a fork to move or turn the food. This punctures the skin, allowing juices to run out. You want to keep the juices in! Always use tongs. I keep 3 or 4 on hand and use one when I’m working with raw meats, and either wash them or use another set of tongs once the food is cooked. This helps reduce the chances of cross contamination of raw foods.
To have your foods all done about the same time, start by cooking the sausages over the hot part of the grill for about 2 minutes per side. Remove and place in a 200°F oven to finish cooking and keep warm. Cook the chicken next and when almost done, add to the oven. Finish with the steak. Once done, while it is resting, cook the corn and fruit on the grill and pull the sausages and chicken out of oven. By the time the corn is done, the steak will have rested and everything will be ready to serve. Party time!
Grilled Lemon-Thyme Chicken
Jane Evans Bonacci © 2003
Yield: 8 servings
I hosted a luncheon recently and served this chicken. It was a perfect entrée, simple to make with fresh ingredients. I started the chicken on the grill, then finished it in the oven at a low temperature. Chicken that has been cooked too long is tough and dry. Pulling the chicken off the heat and finishing in the oven helps avoid over cooking.This is one way to have most of the work done before people arrive, and the chicken finishes cooking gently, keeping it extremely moist and tender.
Juice of 3 lemons
1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbsp coarse salt
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 chickens, backs removed and quartered
2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves
Fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnish
Lemon slices, for garnish
Combine lemon juice, pepper, salt and oil in jar with a tight lid. Shake vigorously just before using. Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag with the marinade, garlic, and thyme sprigs. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, turning occasionally.
When ready to cook, bring chicken to room temperature. Prepare grill for a medium-hot fire on one side. Remove chicken from marinade and pat off excess oil. Discard marinade.
Grill chicken on the oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over hot, ash covered coals until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. If you want to add BBQ sauce, cook chicken for 3 minutes per side, move to the cooler side of the grill, mop with sauce, and then cook for another minute or two on each side. Hold in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Grilled Marinated Flank Steak
Modified from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”
Yield: 4 to 8 servings
Flank steak is best for slicing and a marinade gives the meat more flavor. You can grill the whole piece if you’re hosting a barbecue, or you can grill half of it and leave the rest in its marinade, refrigerated, for a day or two, and cook it later for a salad or stir-fry.
2 to 2-1/2 lb flank steak
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sugar, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Score the meat across the grain (helps create a tender steak). To do this, make thin cuts opposite the way the grain runs in the meat. Do this on both sides and place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar and shake to blend. Pour over the steak and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Near the end of the marinating time, start a charcoal fire, with most of the coals stacked on one side. This creates two heat zones, allowing you to better control the cooking. Start on the hot side of the grill and move to the cooler side for gentler cooking.
Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Grill or broil the steak about 4 inches from the coals for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Move the meat to a cooler part of the grill and cook for another 2 minutes per side or until done to your desired temperature (removing the meat at 135°F will give you medium-rare). Remember that the carry-over cooking will continue and the final temperature will be about 5-degrees higher than when you take it off the heat.
Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, tented with foil, before cutting into thin slices, across the grain, using a sharp carving knife.
Grilled Italian Sausages
Buy the highest quality sausages you can afford – it makes a huge difference. If the sausages are already cooked, all you have to do is heat them on the grill. If they are uncooked, you need to make sure they cook all the way through. Press on them when they are raw and note how squishy they feel. The longer they cook, the firmer they will feel. You should take them off the heat when they’ve browned lightly and are still somewhat pliant when pressed with tongs. Keep them warm in a low oven while the rest of the food finishes cooking.