A kitchen left spotless after spring cleaning is a beautiful thing. If this is your time of the year to move out everything but the cabinets and clean, stretch the life of that pristine status and make dinner outside tonight.
No, that doesn't mean assigning someone to flame-kissed burger-slinging duty, followed by a grease-dripping return from the kill a short time later. We've all had those supposed outdoor meals that left the kitchen messier than it would have been if we'd cooked in. It means making the whole meal outside, and not breaking the bank to do it.
Should you have the hankering to create Le Cordon Bleugrass and execute the full Monty of outdoor kitchens, you can of course do so. There are plenty of sites that offer equipment for grilling, refrigerating, serving, and storage, all built of durable all-weather materials. For those who are serious about frequent outdoor cooking, such investments are well worth it both economics and gastronomics, but on the spur of the moment, your regular grill is quite sufficient.
Cooking outside is a different proposition from the same process indoors, both for meat and side items.
The more adventurous cook can think ahead with meat processing products dehydrators, sausage makers, and so forth. Creating your own processed meats is far more satisfying than buying the finished product at the store.
But for simplicity's sake, start with a nice straightforward grilled chicken idea. The Chic Foodie has a fantastic recipe called Bomb Chicken a la Chic that doesn't require laborious in-kitchen prep work. Work it up using just a few simple ingredients and you've got a unique and delicious chicken entrée that just begs to be eaten with sweet corn.
You've got that one covered, too. Venture over to RecipeTips.com for a good (and short!) video on making sweet corn on the grill. No water to boil, no starchy drippings on the stovetop. Just great, flavorful sweet corn over the flames. For very simple grilled corn, don't even shuck it. Place it directly on the grill and let the moisture stay trapped inside. Either way, you'll end up with beautiful grill marks on your corn, a unique accent that you don't get with every meal, and a perfect complement to the spicy chicken.
Feel the need to tone down the rest of the meal after those two zesty elements? Finish up with a baked potato prepared on the grill. And call it a grilled potato so you don't feel silly. While not something that we necessarily eat every day, a spud cooked over open flame is a very popular side item. Wash the potatoes, remove the eyes, and spray with some olive oil. Scatter a little garlic powder on it, wrap in aluminum foil, and give it about an hour over the coals, turning frequently. Check tenderness with a fork and then serve. Simple enough, right?
A great grilled-out meal is always enjoyable to make and even more enjoyable to eat. There is even a university where grilling is used as a networking opportunity for super-smart (but super-shy) students. And if you take the flame beyond the meat and complete the entire meal on the grill, it's an experience you'll enjoy on both sides of the serving table.
Grill 'em All
Reviewed by Algene C.