Fire up the grill this 4th of July! These delicious recipes and tips will make your barbecue easy and delicious.

Annabel Cohen Contributing Writer

Photography/videography by Derrick Martinez

Grilling is one of summer’s greatest cooking pleasures — and it doesn’t mess up the kitchen. Even though it seems colder in Michigan more than it’s warm, you can grill year-round, as I do. And foods are truly more appetizing when they’re charred a bit, don’t you think?

Yet it can be a little intimidating. Fire is harder to control than, say, a stove or oven, but the benefits are worth it. Seared foods, grill marks and just being outdoors are the best. And these days, let’s face it, grills (especially gas grills) can be so fancy that you have complete control over fire. Plus, with all the fancy accessories (meat thermometer, grill basket, fish baskets, etc.), your meat need never overcook, your fish will stay together, and asparagus need never meet a fiery death falling through the grate.

If there’s one thing you take away from this intro to grilling, please let it be this: When your protein (everything but fish) is cooked, let it rest for a bit before cutting into it. Though you may feel the urge to go from grill to mouth, allow proteins to sit about 5-10 minutes before cutting so you don’t lose all the juices.

Now, get grilling!

LAMB BURGERS WITH TAHINI SAUCE AND ARUGULA

I love these with tahini sauce. If you’d like, serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt as well.

2 pounds lean ground lamb
(10 percent fat content, if possible)
½ cup freshly chopped mint
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. granulated garlic
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
6-8 good-quality hamburger buns or
soft pita pockets
Sauce:
3 Tbsp. tahini
3 Tbsp. hot water
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1⁄3 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Garnish:
Fresh baby arugula

Combine all burger ingredients in a bowl and mash well with your hands. Chill the mixture until ready to use.

Divide ground lamb into 6-8 patties (make them wider than thick — they will shrink).

Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the burgers until they are easily turned with a spatula; too early and the burgers will break.

For the sauce, whisk together all the sauce ingredients.

Make a sandwich with the bun or pita, drizzled with tahini sauce and top with arugula.

CARAMELIZED ONION DIP

Caramelized onions are naturally sweet, giving this dip a slightly sweet flavor.

2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup sour cream
(or vegan sour cream)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter or oil. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until golden, about 25 minutes. Allow the onions to cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve with your favorite potato chips. Makes 1½ cups of dip.

GRILLED CORN ON THE COB WITH CAYENNE, CHILI POWDER AND LIME

Husked ears of corn (any amount)
Olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Sugar
Optional garnishes:
Melted butter
Ground cayenne pepper
Chili powder

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Rub each ear of corn very lightly with olive oil. Season lightly with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar.

Grill on all sides (turn while cooking), until charred to your liking. Serve hot with melted butter, a sprinkle of ground pepper, salt, chili powder and cayenne pepper (just a touch — less is more). Serve with lime wedges.

S’MORES DIP

2 bags (about 12-ounces each) semi- sweet or milk chocolate chips
1-2 bags (10-ounces each) regular-sized marshmallows
Graham crackers, for serving.

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Pour the chocolate chips into a deep pie dish or other baking dish. Arrange the marshmallows on top to cover the chocolate. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden. If you’d like the marshmallows more “toasty,” raise heat to broil and cook for a minute or two more. Serve with graham crackers. Use a spoon to serve. Makes lots of servings, at least 20!

FOIL-ROASTED BABY POTATOES WITH DILL, PARMESAN AND FRESH BASIL

1 pound baby new potatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried dill
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
½ cup fresh basil leaves, whole or chopped
½ cup freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat grill to medium-high (or preheat oven to 350°).

Place a large length of heavy-duty foil (or 2 layers regular foil) on a clean surface.

Combine potatoes with olive oil, dill, salt and pepper and toss well. Pull the sides of the foil up over the potatoes, covering completely, pressing to seal closed. Place foil packets on the grill and cook until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Alternately, place the packet into a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. To serve, carefully open the packet (be careful, the steam is very hot) and toss the potatoes with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Makes 4-6 servings.

GRILLED PINEAPPLE WITH MICHIGAN MAPLE SYRUP AND TOASTED ALMONDS

This is a variation of a Brazilian recipe that calls for the pineapple to be tossed with cinnamon and sugar. I’ve made it a Michigan version by topping it with maple syrup and some toasted almonds for crunch.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat.

Cut the tops and bottoms off a pineapple. Use a sharp knife to peel the pineapple (cut the peel off from top to bottom all around the pineapple). Cut the pineapple into 8 long wedges and toss with olive oil.

Grill pineapple wedges on the preheated grill until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes per side (you may also broil the pineapple, if desired). Place the cooked wedges on a serving dish and drizzle with maple syrup and top with almonds. Makes 6-8 servings.

FRESH GUACAMOLE IN A MOLCAJETE

Guacamole is fun and delicious made in a molcajete, a large mortar and pestle made from volcanic stone. There are other types made of granite and other stone that, though not “authentic,” work wonderfully well.

3-4 large ripe avocados
½ cup chopped tomatoes
¼ cup chopped onions, any kind
Juice of 2-3 limes or lemons
Salt to taste
Your favorite hot sauce
1-2 tsp. chili powder (optional)
Fresh cilantro leaves

Cut an avocado in half by running a sharp knife around the pit. Twist the avocado to separate the two halves. Remove the pit (I use a knife to stab the pit and pull it out of the avocado). Use a tablespoon to scoop the flesh out of the peel. Add one-quarter of the onion, tomato, salt, juice and hot sauce (and chili powder, if using) and cilantro to the molcajete and smash with a pestle into a chunky mixture. Adjust seasonings and serve with tortilla chips. Repeat with remaining avocados and ingredients. Makes 6-8 large servings, depending on the size of the avocados.

CORN AND BLACK BEAN SALAD

For variety, add other ingredients, such as colored bell peppers and pepitas or sunflower seeds.
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed, if frozen)
1 cup cooked black beans (rinsed and drained, if canned)
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 cup small diced cucumbers (seedless, if possible, or seeded)
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup lime juice or to taste
¼ cup chopped scallions or Bermuda onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp.  ground cumin
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Makes 6-8 servings.

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