BBQ: There’s Something primally delicious about grilling

Well, I think Maryland has finally shaken off winter for good, and based on my observations from the short time I’ve lived here, summer is speeding around the corner fast enough that we won’t get to fully enjoy spring.  As soon as the snow melted off our deck, we shopped around and found ourselves a grill, and very quickly it became my favorite addition to our home.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it the rest of my life, “There is something about cooking over an open flame that just makes the food taste better.”  I don’t know if it’s some kind of subconscious return to primal instincts of roasting whatever’s been hunted and/or gathered over an open fire that makes me feel alive, or perhaps the simple smoky flavor that can’t be infused any other way, but for me there’s nothing better than taking a meal off the grill and devouring it with loved ones.

Oddly enough, up until a couple weeks ago, I had never done my own grilling before.  Until now, someone

Big Joe's spice rub put on chicken a couple hours before grilling makes it taste beautiful.
Big Joe’s spice rub put on chicken a couple hours before grilling makes it taste beautiful.

else had mastered the flames, while I took on the sides inside.  Luckily, a certain unnamed spring holiday rodent brought us a grill basket, making my life that much easier.  Before getting my meat ready, I chop up whatever veggies I have on hand, toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and put it on the fire along side your protein.  (I’ve yet to attempt veggie burgers on the grill for fear of them falling apart, but I’m looking forward to trying.)  My first grilling experience was wonderful.  I rubbed down some chicken breasts with Joe’s Spice Rub, then threw on the basket, and in ten to fifteen minutes, I had a great meal.  It wasn’t bad for my first attempt, my husband declared it, “Perfectly done.”

The thing that surprised me most about grilling vegetables is the amount of sweetness the flames brings out of a vegetable.  Not just like bell peppers, onions, or carrots, those are naturally sweet.  I’m talking about broccoli.  Who would have thought?  Fire is magic!  Or how about the buttery flavor of asparagus? That’s good stuff.  And I’m saying this now because growing up, my dad was so selective about what went on his grill that I wouldn’t dream of asking to put a vegetable on it.  Now that I have my own grill (that my husband kindly shares with me) and I love most foods, just about anything is welcome to the fire flavor party.

Believe it or not, I do have a recipe for you.  Only one, but it’s a good one.  It’s a product of Michael Symon, and in matters of meat and grilling, the man would never steer anyone wrong.  It’s a simple marinade, intended for chicken, but I used it on pork chops.  Bright citrus, savory herbs, and when that mingles with the smoke of the charcoal, wonderful things happen.

Lemon and Shallot Marinade

Lemon Shallot Marinade
Boiling leftover marinade creates a great sauce.
  • 1/3 C plus 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Shake everything together in a ziplock bag, and add 2 pork chops or chicken breasts. Let rest for two hours, then cook to your liking.  I highly recommend grilling.

Tip of the week: Have a really great marinade? Hate to get rid of it when the meat goes into the pan? You don’t have to! I was delighted to learn something: When the meat your marinading goes onto the grill, or hits the pan, or whatever, get a saucepan, and dump in your marinade and bring it to a boil.  Let boil for about five minutes, then you have a great finishing sauce for the meat, and as the case may be, any additional side dishes.