Say the word “grilling” and in Kansas City most people default to meat.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Judith Fertig and Karen Adler, authors of the new “Red, White and ‘Que” (Running Press, $25), take a non-traditional approach when firing up the grill each Memorial Day.
We caught up with the “Que Queens” at Smoke N’ Fire in Overland Park and they shared these 5 simple and clever grilling tips with Star readers:
1. Buy a pair of long-handled tongs: “You can use them at the grill, or you can fight with them,” Fertig says as she playfully snaps a pair at her cooking partner. Why long tongs? It keeps you from burninng your arms as you move food items around the grill.
2. Grill bread for a versatile appetizer or dessert: A loaf of grilled bread can do double-duty as an appetizer, such as bruschetta, or as a dessert when spread with melted chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. Mmm. Just be careful not to drip chocolate on your white shorts!
3. Grill fruit — especially citrus — and vegetables, then make a cocktail: There’s no need to oil your lemons and limes before tossing them on the grill. The heat of the fire will caramelize the natural sugars. Char for a few minutes until grill marks begin to appear. Allow citrus to cool and use the juice to create smoky cocktails, as a spritz with seafood or as the acid in vinaigrette. The same grilling technique works with tomatoes. See recipes for Grilled Fruit Sangria and Smoked Bloody Mary With Bacon.
4. Grill a super salad: Sturdy salad greens, such as romaine and radicchio, taste great with a bit of smoke and char. Slice them lengthwise with a knife, brush with olive oil and grill for a 2 to 3 minutes per side. “It’s a classic salad, except with a bit of char and a classic dressing” such as Green Goddess or blue cheese, Adler says. And, adds Fertig, “Green Goodess deserves to make a comeback.”
5. In a hurry? Skip the skewers and grill-basket some shrimp: Shrimp is among one of the fastest proteins to cook on the grill but threading them on bamboo skewers is minutes you could save enjoying other activities. Instead, prep a batch of shrimp in a spicy Cajun or flavored marinade of your choice in a zipper-top bag. When ready to grill, pour off the excess marinade and place shrimp in a grill basket. Shrimp cooks in 3 to 4 minutes; it’s done when it turns opaque.
Jill Wendholt Silva is The Star’s James Beard award-winning food editor. Tweet her at @kcstarfood and find her on Instagram at @jillwsilva.
Grilled cocktails? Smoked ice? Yes!
Two ways to use grilled citrus and smoked tomatoes, from “Red, White and Que:”
Grilled Fruit Sangria from “Red White & ‘Que”: Simply grill slices of orange and pineapple and blister whole clusters of grapes (or use a perforated grill pan to contain them.) Chop the fruit into smaller pieces and cut each grape in half; the fruit goes into a large pitcher. Pour in 1 1/2 liters of chilled, fruity red wine, 1/2 cup Calvados, 1/2 cup brandy and maybe some simple syrup to taste. A good stire, and the sangria is ready to serve over a glass of ice.
Smoked Bloody Mary With Bacon: The classic Bloody Mary is a fabulous canvas for smoky flavors. Use a smoke- or bacon-infused vodka or naturally smoky mezcal as the alcohol. Smoke tomatoes on the grill for 1 hour and juice them (also double-smoke your bacon). For 4 drinks, smoke 4 to 5 Roma tomatoes, remove the skins and puree in a blender. Then, to the blender, add 3 cups more tomato juice, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, a little hot sauce, the juice of a lemon and salt and pepper. For each dink, add 1 to 2 ounces vodka then top off with the smoky tomato mix. Smoke ice cubes by placing a pan of water on the smoker, smoking the water for an hour then using the smoked water to make ice cubes.