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Hot off the grill, a weekend's worth of recipes

June 15, 2015

Grilled Red and Savoy Cabbage with Roquefort and Celery Seed Dressing from "BBQ Bistro," by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.

You don’t need a clock to know it’s dinnertime in the neighborhood as the beguiling fragrance from one grill after another winds its way past our kitchens. Sure, there are hardy souls who tackle outdoor cooking in parkas and ski hats. But for many of us fair-weather cooks, spring means it’s time to dust off (and often scrape off) the grill. Couldn’t come soon enough for me as I page through grilling books the way others do seed catalogs. Will this be the season of grilled vegetables in all their colorful forms (cabbage or cauliflower, fennel or onions)? Or will I lean toward marinades (bourbon-based brines or chili and cumin blends)? Then there are the flavorful twists of familiar favorites (chicken drumsticks or hanger steaks rubbed with a spicy blend). No need to leave out any of them. There are 106 days to fill from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Let’s get grilling.                         

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GRILLED VEGETABLE VINAIGRETTE

Makes 2 cups.

Note: This is a chunky dressing that makes each bite of a salad taste different. The dressing is also good spooned over a steak and sprinkled with crumbled blue cheese, or dolloped onto a lamb chop with some feta. From "A Girl and Her Greens" by April Bloomfield.

1 medium fennel bulb, outer layer, stalks and fronds removed, root end trimmed of brown bits

1 small red onion (about 1/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds

1 small head radicchio (outermost leaves removed, bottom trimmed of brown bits, quartered lengthwise) and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt

1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped

A five-finger pinch of fresh mint leaves

A five-finger pinch of fresh marjoram leaves

Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise and cut each halfway through the root nub (so the wedges stay intact) into about 1-inch-thick wedges.

Heat a grill or heavy grill pan over high heat until it’s good and hot, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add fennel, onion and radicchio. Cook, turning vegetables over occasionally, until fennel and onion are lightly charred in spots and cooked through, but still have a little bite, about 20 minutes. The radicchio is done when the stems are tender but still have a little bite, the leaves are wilty, the tips crackly, about 15 to 20 minutes.

As they finish, pop the grilled vegetables into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until they’ve cooled fully. They’ll steam a bit and cook some more as they cool. Once they’ve all cooled, chop the vegetables into a mix of about 1/2-inch pieces, some smaller and some larger.

Pop the vegetables back into the bowl, add the oil, vinegar, salt and garlic, and stir really well. Toss the mint and marjoram together on a cutting board, give them a rough chop and stir them into the dressing.

Nutrition information per serving of 2 tablespoons: 68 calories, 7 g fat, 160 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g saturated fat, 10 mg calcium, 0 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 fat.

GRILLED RED AND SAVOY CABBAGE WITH ROQUEFORT AND CELERY SEED DRESSING

Serves 8.

Note: Grilled wedges of red and green cabbage taste incredible. If you love Roquefort cheese, add more as you like. If you don’t care for Roquefort (heaven forbid), skip the cheese or substitute a French feta. Napa cabbage is a delicious substitute for either of the cabbages. From "BBQ Bistro" by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small head red cabbage, quartered lengthwise

1 small head savoy cabbage, quartered lengthwise

Olive oil for brushing

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

8 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled

For the Celery Seed Dressing: In a bowl, combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, salt, pepper, mustard and garlic; whisk to blend. Set aside.

For the vegetables: Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Brush the cut sides of the cabbages with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill on the cut sides of the cabbage, turning once, until browned with good grill marks and warm and supple in the middle, about 5 minutes per side. Place cabbages on a platter and drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with cheese.

Nutrition information per serving: 366 calories, 29 g fat, 580 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 8 g saturated fat, 250 mg calcium, 11 g protein, 21 mg cholesterol, 7 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 vegetable, 1/2 other carb, 1 high-fat meat, 4 fat.

GRILLED CAULIFLOWER PAILLARDS WITH ORANGE-OLIVE PISTOU

Serves 2 to 3.

Note: One large cauliflower will yield about six (1-inch) paillards, with two of the slices being the end pieces. Cut only part of the core, because if you remove too much, the paillard will fall apart. From "BBQ Bistro" by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 oranges (14 oz. total), peeled, segmented and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup green olives (such as Manzanilla or Picholine), pitted and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large head (2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, part of core and green leaves removed

Olive oil for brushing

Kosher or sea salt

Directions

Prepare an indirect medium-hot fire in your grill.

For the Orange-Olive Pistou: Stir the olive oil, lemon juice, orange segments, olives, raisins, garlic and parsley together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower from top to bottom into 1-inch-thick (2.5 cm) slices and place on a baking sheet. Brush the cauliflower with olive oil and salt to taste. Place the cauliflower slices over the hot fire and grill for 2 minutes per side to get good grill marks, then move to the indirect or no-heat side of the grill. Close the lid and grill-roast for another 10 minutes, until the cauliflower slices still hold together but are tender when pierced with a fork.

To serve, overlap the cauliflower slices on a platter and spoon the Orange-Olive Pistou down the center.

Nutrition information per serving of 3: 336 calories, 23 g fat, 460 mg sodium, 34 g carbohydrates, 3 g saturated fat, 110 mg calcium, 6 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 8 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 1/2 fruit, 4 1/2 fat

BOURBON-BRINED CENTER-CUT PORK CHOPS

Serves 4.

Note: Cabin Still is a great cooking bourbon, but you can use the cheapest bottle you’d be willing to drink. From "Feeding the Fire" by Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald.

1 gallon water

1 cup kosher salt

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 head garlic, halved horizontally

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick (Mexican is particularly good)

1 tbsp. black peppercorns

1 tbsp. allspice berries

1 tbsp. whole cloves

3/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups bourbon plus 1 tablespoon, divided

4 bone-in center-cut pork chops (10 to 12 ounces each), about 1 1/2 inches thick

4 tablespoons. unsalted butter

Coarse sea salt

Directions

In a large pot, combine 1 gallon water, kosher salt, brown sugar, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves and olive oil. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups bourbon. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a nonreactive container and refrigerate until cold.

Put pork chops in cold brine and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.

Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels; discard brine.

Prepare a two-stage fire with medium and hot sides in a grill, making sure to oil the grill grates well.

Grill the pork chops over high heat until well charred on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Then move the pork chops to the medium-heat side and grill, turning every few minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of the chops reads 145 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer the pork to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

While pork chops rest, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and add 1 tablespoon bourbon. Return to heat and tilt the pan away from you until the alcohol ignites (use a match or a lighter if using an electric stove). Let alcohol burn off, then swirl the sauce until emulsified.

Transfer the pork chops to plates and spoon some of the sauce over each chop. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 640 calories, 38 g fat, 2,700 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrates, 16 g saturated fat, 25 mg calcium, 62 g protein, 210 mg cholesterol, 0 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1/2 other carb, 9 lean meat, 2 fat.

SPICY BLACK-PEPPER COATED DRUMSTICKS

Serves 6.

Note: Think of these as Italian Buffalo wings, with fennel sticks subbing for the traditional celery. From "Italian Grill" by Mario Batali.

12 chicken drumsticks

Kosher salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably chipotle

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice or coffee grinder

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 fennel bulbs

4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce (a softer version of the Italian blue cheese)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place drumsticks on a baking sheet and season all over with salt. Bake for 20 minutes (25 minutes for very large drumsticks).

In medium bowl, stir together buttermilk, hot sauce, fennel seeds and pepper. Set a wire rack over a small baking sheet.

As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with fennel seeds and pepper, over each one, and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead; leave them on the rack, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.)

Preheat gas grill or prepare fire in a charcoal grill.

Trim fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise in half, and cut out the core. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide sticks and toss into a bowl of ice water.

Crumble Gorgonzola into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the vinegar and stir until fairly smooth. Drizzle in oil, stirring. Pour into shallow bowls for dipping.

Place drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

Put drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat dry and place next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.

Nutrition information per serving: 500 calories, 35 g fat, 500 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrates, 9 g saturated fat, 180 mg calcium, 37 g protein, 170 mg cholesterol, 3 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 5 medium-fat meat, 2 fat.

CHILI AND CUMIN MARINATED HANGER STEAK

Serves 4.

Note: To toast cumin seeds, place in a dry pan over medium heat and warm until fragrant. This will make about 3/4 cup marinade, more than you will need for this single dish. From "Brazilian Barbecue & Beyond," by David Ponté, Jamie Barber and Lizzy Barber.

3 ounces red chiles, seeded and roughly chopped

5 to 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted (see Note)

1/2 teaspoon. dried oregano

1/4 cup light olive or sunflower oil

4 (7-ounce) hanger steaks

Olive oil, for brushing

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a small food processor, combine chiles, garlic, mirin, vinegar, 2 teaspoons sea salt, toasted cumin seeds, oregano and 1/4 cup oil. Blend to a smooth, wet paste. (Use immediately or refrigerate up to a week.)

Put the steaks in a large bowl and toss with 4 tablespoons marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Half an hour before you are ready to cook, take the steaks out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Light the grill and let the flames die down before starting to cook. If cooking indoors, heat a griddle pan until very hot. Scrape the marinade off the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Brush them with a little olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, then grill them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked to medium-rare. They should feel a little springy when pressed. Remove from the heat and brush with a little of the unused (fresh) marinade). Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 405 calories, 21 g fat, 660 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrates, 6 g saturated fat, 29 mg calcium, 48 g protein, 140 mg cholesterol, 0 g dietary fiber

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 7 lean meat

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