Friday, May 28, 2010

My 5 Favorite Grilled Foods

Many folks consider the Memorial Day weekend to be the "official" start of grilling season. Although hard-core grillers are known to grill year-round regardless of weather (I recall watching Greg wearing a winter coat and grilling on our deck as snow fell one blustery February evening a few years back), most people fire up the grill for the first time this weekend or on Memorial Day. In the spirit of the holiday weekend, I thought I'd share my top five favorite grilled foods, beginning with #5 and ending with my all-time favorite grilled delicacy.

5. Grilled Portobello mushrooms, especially when marinated in Greg's Happy Sauce, which unfortunately is no longer available. An excellent marinade you can use instead is Thomas Balsamic Vinaigrette. Simply marinate for about 30 minutes and then grill to desired doneness. You can enjoy the mushroom caps as "veggie burgers" or slice and serve with your favorite sides.

4. Grilled Peaches served over vanilla ice cream: Greg makes the most amazing grilled peaches using ripe but firm peaches that he's cut in half and removed the pit. A couple of years ago I posted his instructions for how to grill peaches and other fruit as well as the recipe for a glaze for grilled fruit. Glazed grilled peaches make a delicious summertime dessert on their own or over vanilla ice cream.

3. Grilled Venison tenderloin: Alas, without Greg's Happy Sauce it is impossible to enjoy the most amazingly delicious venison in the world. But I can recommend two other excellent marinades that will tenderize and "de-game" venison, for mouthwatering results that will please even those folks who say they don't like game. The first is Thomas Marinade, which is ready to use straight from the bottle, and the other is Ann's Marinade, which I like to blend with some olive oil so as to not dry out the venison while it marinates. In both cases, you'll get the best flavor by marinating overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Grilled grass-fed beef, especially NY strip: To me, grass-fed, all-natural free-range beef has far better flavor than regular grain-fed beef. It's also leaner, and I've read some articles saying that grass-fed beef is more nutritious. However, because grass-fed beef is leaner, it's less forgiving on the grill (in other words, it's very easy to overcook it, which can be a problem if you prefer medium-rare steak like I do). Greg has mastered the art, and in my opinion he gets the best flavor by using a simple pepper-based steak seasoning such as Knox Cracked Pepper Dry Rub or Char Crust Roasted Garlic Peppercorn.

1. Grilled Salmon: I could eat grilled salmon every day if I could afford to do so, especially back when we had Happy Sauce to use as a marinade and basting sauce. Nowadays I have three favorite ways of enjoying grilled salmon: (i) Marinating (30 mins in fridge) and basting with Bear-Man Sap Happy Golden Bear Maple Sauce, which reminds me of Greg's Happy Sauce, or (ii) Sprinkling with Big Daddy's Superb Herb Seasoning and lightly coating with olive oil before grilling, or (iii) Marinating in Mama T's Olive Oil Vinaigrette for 30 minutes to 2 hrs and then grilling.

I hope you've enjoyed my list of favorite grilled foods. If you have any favorite grilled foods, please feel free to post a comment and let us know -- and recipes are always welcome!

I hope everyone has a safe, happy and saucy holiday weekend!

Zestfully yours,

PS: I have to throw in an Honorable Mention for grilled fresh pineapple. It is amazingly good, either "straight" or with vanilla ice cream, no syrup or topping needed! Make sure you use fully-ripe pineapple, and spears are easier to grill than chunks or rings. You can then cut the spears into chunks if you want.

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