Ah, summer, the season that should be a time of rest and relaxation. The reality: most of us spend our summer trying to cram in sightseeing “vacations,” concerts in the park, a few days at the beach, hiking in the mountains, a weekend in the Gorge and so on. And if you have kids, then even more of your relaxation time is devoured driving them around. This frenetic pace not only leaves us dizzy, but depleted of energy for making dinner. And guess what, your in-laws called and they are coming for dinner tonight. What are you going to make?
During the warm summer months, most people answer the question, “What’s for dinner tonight?” with “Let’s throw some chicken on the grill.” Boneless, skinless breasts are purchased, pounded flat, seasoned with salt and pepper, brushed with olive oil, and grilled over direct medium heat for 10-12 minutes. Now what?
Take your boring grilled chicken breasts in one of these easy and delicious directions for a quick summer meal.
With Memorial Day behind us, grilling season has officially begun. With Fourth of July—arguably the biggest barbecuing day of the year—just a few weeks away, here are my tips for preparing the grill and getting into the barbecuing mindset.
Clean the grill. With a stiff wire brush, scrape hardened food off your grates. Wash them with warm, soapy water. Scrape down the sides of your grill with a spatula. Change the grease pan. Make sure your propane tank is full or you have a fresh stock of briquettes.
Just like produce, use good quality, in-season meat and seafood.
General guidelines for fresh, pastured meat and wild-caught seafood:
Summer—chicken, pork, halibut, shrimp, salmon
Fall—tuna, turkey, salmon, shrimp
Season with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil at least an hour in advance for meats, and 30 minutes in advance for seafood.
Pull your meat out of the fridge at least 20 minutes prior grilling to take the chill off and ensure even grilling.
Always start fish flesh side down. Do not flip until 2/3 through cooking time. When finished, slip a spatula between skin and flesh. Fish will slide right off the skin and on to your platter.
Take your meat and seafood off the grill just before they are completely cooked. Let them rest for a bit before serving. They will finish cooking off the grill and the juices will have a chance to redistribute.
Keep your side dishes “summer simple.” Thick-sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt. Baby greens tossed with Dijon vinaigrette. Thick slices of Pugliese bread served with softened goat cheese. Vanilla ice cream with berries.
First up on my list to grill is a fillet of sockeye salmon, steamed artichokes on the side and strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. I had better start scrubbing my grill. See you outside!