Summer is for Grilling:: Tips and Recipes for the Perfect Family Meal

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.” These words, uttered by the immortal James Beard, are so true. The art of grilling is one that takes patience, practice and a bit of pizazz. 

This July, which just so happens to be National Grilling Month, take the opportunity to invite some friends and family over, and elevate your grill game!

A Few Tips from Your Neighborhood Grill Master

In preparation for writing this blog post, I decided to interview my husband, who has become quite the grill master. He is constantly watching YouTube videos from professionals, reading blog posts filled with tips and tricks, and honing his skills on his Big Green Egg. We grill or smoke a meal once a week, and our family always enjoys hanging out on the back patio while doing so. Even the kids get involved and love learning how to grill!

One of the biggest things you can do to improve your grilling is to invest in a quality grill or smoker. My husband loves his Big Green Egg, but there are several others that work great; look for products from Ole Hickory, Oklahoma Joe, Weber and Traeger. Try to find one that has a built-in thermometer to monitor the heat inside or around the grill area. This is the biggest key to properly grilled or smoked meals.

As for gas versus charcoal, that is a personal preference. Gas grills are of course easier to get started, easier to clean, and take up less room. But you won’t get as much of an authentic taste or have more room to tweak your recipes as with charcoal. My husband prefers charcoal, simply because of the overall flavor. He also prefers to use LUMP charcoal, instead of regular, because it has better taste, less additives, is reusable and composts well into my garden.

Another grilling tip is to invest in a quality meat thermometer, and make sure you know cooking temperature recommendations for your meats. Growing up, I would always see my dad cutting into the chicken to see if it was done right. Ummm, no. Use a thermometer if need be, or the more you do it you will come to understand how long it takes by intuition.

Grilling Recipes

Ok, let’s get to the good part! Anyone can throw on some hot dogs and hamburgers, so I thought I would share a few more elevated items for you to try.

The Perfect Steak

In my opinion, there are few things better than a properly prepared steak. Whether you prefer a filet or a ribeye, or anything in-between, the best way to cook a steak is on the grill. But grilling a steak can be tricky, as you want to get it JUST right. Most southerners prefer their steak anywhere from rare to medium; my husband and I are fans of medium rare. You won’t find anyone here eating one that is well done, and don’t you dare grab that BBQ sauce.

The trick here to the perfect steak is high heat and a fast burn that will give you a crispy outside without overcooking the inside, and the butter application is a MUST.

Instructions::

  1. Start your grill. Goal temperature is 650 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove steak from the refrigerator. Wash with cool water and pat dry.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and rub on all sides with coarse ground pepper and Kosher salt. 
  4. While your steak is resting, make a butter topper. Soften 1-2 tbsp of unsalted butter and stir together with coarse ground pepper, Kosher salt, thyme, sage and rosemary to taste. Return to refrigerator to harden.
  5. Once your grill is ready, it’s time for the steak! Cook for 2 minutes on one side, flip, and then 2 minutes on the other side. DO NOT flip more than once. Grab your butter while this is occurring.
  6. After 4 minutes, put the dollop of butter on top of your steak and let it cook another 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from the grill and let it sit for 5 minutes. Eat and enjoy!

Snapper Pontchartrain

This dish is an absolute must for any seafood lover. Fish on the grill has a more distinct flavor than cooked elsewhere, and the crowning jewel here is the Pontchartrain topping. Named for Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, this sauce has a bit of a kick to it, and we combine it with jumbo lump crabmeat.

Instructions:

  1. Start your grill. Goal temperature is 600-700 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add a chunk of cherry wood to the coals for flavor.
  3. Remove your fish from the refrigerator and dust the top with your Cajun seasoning of choice (Tony’s or Zatarain’s are great). Coat the scale side with olive oil to prevent sticking on the grill.
  4. Once your grill is at goal temp, cook the snapper inside for 10 minutes or so. You will know it is done when the fish is firm to the touch. Bigger pieces of fish are better.
  5. While your fish is cooking, make your Pontchartrain sauce. This recipe is courtesy of Malcom Reed.
    1. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Add 3 minced cloves of garlic and a touch of parsley and saute.
    2. Pour in ¼ cup white wine and reduce for a few minutes.
    3. Add in 1 cup heavy cream and a tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.
    4. Whisk together and reduce for 8-10 minutes, stirring often until it thickens.
    5. Add a touch of lemon juice and zest and 2 tbsp of grated parmesan. Remove from heat.
  6. Saute your crabmeat in a bit of butter to warm and juice it up.
  7. Once your fish is ready, remove from the grill and plate it. Top with crabmeat and then pour the sauce on top. Eat and enjoy!

My Favorite Summer Veggies to Grill:: Zucchini and Okra

These are so easy to cook, and they taste so good straight out of our garden {or from the store} to the grill to our plate. The zucchini we will slice lengthwise into strips; the okra we cook whole. Bathe the veggies with olive oil and season with table salt, pepper, garlic and a touch of cayenne. Grill at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Eat and enjoy!

I hope these grilling tips and recipes are helpful and give you a few new ideas of food to try on the grill! Invite some people over and enjoy an evening outside. Don’t forget your favorite beverage of choice. Happy summer, y’all!


 

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Dani has spent the vast majority of her life in the greater Houston area, and there’s no place else she’d rather be! She loves all things Houston, from the culture, to the sports, to the FOOD {ohhhh, Tex-Mex}. After many years attending Texas A&M University {twice!} and the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, she found her true calling practicing family medicine as a family nurse practitioner in north Spring. She absolutely loves building rewarding relationships with her patients and helping them live healthier lives in mind, body and spirit. When not at work, Dani is wife to her best friend and a fellow practitioner of medicine, Stu, and mom to two little spitfires, Emilia {2017} and Caroline {2019}. In her free time, Dani is an avid gardener and has a large passion for all things outdoors and healthy living. You can follow her on Instagram @summerskyegardens and check out her gardening YouTube page!

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