Reader Recipes

Great on the Grill Winners! 

Submit your favorite recipes to: Reader Recipes; P.O. Box 2340; Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340. Or send your recipe by e-mail to bpotter@odec.com.

by Dr. Christina Ball, Contributing Writer

The best cooking — whether it’s a quickly seared Tuscan bistecca drizzled with green olive oil and lemon juice served alongside a fresh arugula salad, or a slow-cooked Southern pork barbecue with crisp slaw and a shake of spicy hot sauce — is innately regional and undeniably seasonal. Though technology and George Foreman have made it possible for enthusiasts to snub the weather and cook “out” in any season, the spirit of grilling still belongs to summer. Indoors or out, charcoal or gas, hickory chips or cedar planks — what could be simpler than dinner on the grill? Fire it up, phone some friends, select the best cuts of meat or the freshest fish and vegetables, slap on some sauce or rub with herbs and spices, add a salad or two for accent – and you’re in delicious business.

Sounds so easy. And yet, let’s face it, there’s a definite art to grilling, and not everyone’s cut out for the job. Grilling takes patience (chicken; charcoal), forethought (marinades), versatility (you can grill anything from a sardine to a pineapple), endurance (heat; a hundred burger cook-out), sharp interpretive skills (time to flip? done yet?) and, of course, love (baste with sauce every five minutes).

If you failed this temperament test, don’t give up hope. With a little inspiration from this year’s great on the grill recipe-contest winners, we can all jump-start our summers and move a few degrees closer to mastering the art of the grill.

Christina White’s Summer Lime Chicken celebrates the healthy, transformative powers of marinades. Who needs thousands of ingredients when the dynamic duo of cilantro and lime play leading roles in a recipe? All it takes is a bit of olive oil, some minced garlic, and a dash or two of salt and pepper to bring otherwise dull chicken breasts to zesty new life. The vibrant, fresh flavors of this dish transported me to summer instantly. Add some fresh guacamole, a cool summer salad (cucumbers, mint) and mango sorbet for dessert and eating healthy never tasted so good.

Another winning recipe that stars just a few, well-chosen ingredients — and a bed of white-hot coals — is Jim Lankford’s clever, satisfying Spicy Charred Steak-on-the-Rocks. Did they have London broil in the Stone Age? Just reading the recipe put me into a primitive, flame-flickering sort of trance: The steak is rubbed with cayenne powder and Dijon mustard and encrusted with rock salt before being char-cooked directly on the coals. No intermediaries needed. In this age of gourmet gadgets, there’s something so very satisfying about cooking meat on an open fire. Add a few potatoes, some grilled asparagus and a bottle of Primitivo (a red wine from Southern Italy) and savor under the stars. Forks and knives optional.

After two grilling recipes, Alene Carroll reminds us that barbecuing, by contrast, is all about taking it slow. Her inventive recipe for Baby-Back Pork Ribs – smoked two hours over hickory wood chips — includes an exotic (and currently trendy) coffee-spice rub and a 10-ingredient (beer, apple juice, hot sauce) “mop sauce” that’s sure to add a mellow kick.

Take an island vacation on any ordinary day by making Jennifer Harris’ Grilled Tuna Steaks with Papaya Chutney. The combination of salty, soy-marinated tuna with the sweet, enticing flavors of papaya, brown sugar and ground ginger is both striking and soothing. Prepare a pot of coconut rice, fry a fewplantains, blend some smoothies or piña coladas, and toast to the eternal summer of cooking on the grill. 

SUMMER LIME CHICKEN

From Christina White of Centreville

Ingredients:

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1⁄3 cup olive oil

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4 cloves garlic, minced

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3 T chopped fresh cilantro, plus garnish

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1⁄2 t each salt and pepper

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Juice of 3 limes

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4 chicken breasts (boned and skinned)

Directions: Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl or large zip-lock bag. Add chicken; marinate at least 1 hour, longer for more flavor. Grill to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

About the cook:

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom

What do you enjoy most about cooking?  I find it to be a creative and relaxing activity that pleases my family. I try new recipes all the time.

When did you first start experimenting with recipes? I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. My first cooking experience was making scrambled eggs for my parents when I was a child.

Have you considered culinary arts as a profession? I have never considered the culinary arts as a profession because I think it would change a fun hobby into something too much like work!

Do you prefer charcoal or gas? I have just recently begun to grill and only on gas. 

Brief history of winning recipe: I clipped the original recipe out of Parade magazine years ago and tweaked it to better suit my taste.

SPICY CHARRED STEAK-ON-THE-ROCKS

From Jim Lankford of Fredericksburg

 

 

Ingredients:

 

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2 lbs. boneless steak, cut 2 inches thick (London broil)

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2 T cayenne pepper powder

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3⁄4 cup Dijon or deli mustard

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21⁄2 cups rock salt

Directions: Prepare a bed of hot coals 3 inches thick and twice as long as the steak. Allow at least 30 minutes for the coals to turn ash white. Remove all visible fat from meat; pat dry with a clean dish towel. Work pepper powder into steak with hands. Spread 1⁄2 of the mustard over top and sides of steak. Press 1⁄2 of the salt into the mustard as thick as it will stick. Place meat salt-side down directly onto the coals. Cook until salt crust is charred, approximately 10 minutes. Spread remaining mustard over exposed raw meat and press remaining salt onto it. Using 2 large spatulas, turn steak over onto other section of hot coals. Cook until charred, approximately 10 minutes longer. Remove from coals and knock off remaining charred crust. To serve, slice on the diagonal against the grain after the meat has rested 5-6 minutes minimum.

About the cook:

Occupation: Blacksmith

What do you enjoy most about cooking? Trying new recipes.

When did you first start experimenting with recipes? When I was just a youngster my mother would take us kids in the kitchen to cook anything that she could find a recipe for. This was to keep us off the streets.

Have you considered culinary arts as a profession? My family owned a restaurant when I was in high school. I worked as a chef/cook in it.

Do you prefer charcoal or gas? It depends on what I am a cooking. Sometimes charcoal is better, especially if you are cooking with a smoker. For hamburgers/hot dogs, gas is okay. 

Brief history of winning recipe: My dad learned this technique in North Africa during WWII. The technique of grilling with salt was first used for chicken and was not spicy. My mother changed the recipe to beef and made it spicy.

BABY- BACK PORK RIBS

From Alene Carroll of Bracey

Ingredients:

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6 racks pork ribs, about 4 to 6 lbs.

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1⁄2 cup spice rub (see recipe)

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Mop sauce (see recipe)

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Canola oil for brushing grill

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2 cups hickory wood chips — day of grilling, soak in water 1 hour; drain

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221⁄2-inch (at least) grill with cover

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Drip pan

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Charcoal

Spice Rub:

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21⁄2 T ground coffee

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1 T kosher salt

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1 T brown sugar

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2 t sweet paprika

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1 t  freshly ground black pepper

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1 t garlic powder

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1 t onion powder

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1⁄2 t ground coriander

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1 t unsweetened cocoa

Put all ingredients in a pint jar and tighten lid, shake well to mix. Makes 1⁄2 cup to rub on ribs. (Can be prepared ahead for over a month.)

Mop Sauce:

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1 cup beer

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1 cup apple cider or juice

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1⁄3 cup cider vinegar

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1⁄3 cup black coffee

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1⁄3 cup chicken stock or water

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1⁄4 cup vegetable oil

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1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce

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2 T hot sauce

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2 t kosher salt

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1 t freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a quart jar, put lid on tight, and shake to mix. Makes about 33⁄4 cups. (Prepare days ahead, store in refrigerator.) 

Directions: Set up grill for indirect grilling by making a pile of charcoal at each end of grill; leave a space for drip pan in the middle. Light charcoal and when the fire is medium hot, put 1⁄2 of the hickory chips on the charcoal, divided on each end. Oil the grill with canola oil. Place ribs on grill over the drip pan; put cover on grill and smoke for 1 hour. Uncover the ribs after 1 hour and brush on the mop sauce. At this time, you can add a few more charcoals and the other half of the hickory wood chips. Continue cooking the ribs until tender, about 1⁄2 to 1 hour longer. Test the meat and when very tender and shrunk from the ends of the bones, it is done. (If you are using spareribs, the cooking time will be longer.)

About the cook:

Occupation: Retired from the government Dept. of Human Services in Washington, D.C.

What do you enjoy most about cooking? It is enjoyable when people like what I have cooked, such as pound cake, potato salad, shrimp and rice casserole or apple pie.

When did you first start experimenting with recipes? It was about 1982, when I retired and had more time.       

Have you considered culinary arts as a profession? No, I prefer to try writing poetry and song lyrics.

Do you prefer charcoal or gas? I prefer charcoal.       Brief history of winning recipe: I found the basic recipe in YANKEE magazine, which has many very good and interesting recipes and articles. This is where I learned about indirect grilling.

GRILLED TUNA STEAKS

From Jennifer Harris of Ruckersville

 

 

Ingredients:

 

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6 6-oz. tuna steaks

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2 T low-sodium soy sauce

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3 cups diced, peeled papaya or mango

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1⁄2 cup golden raisins

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1⁄3 cup cider or balsamic vinegar

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1⁄4 cup water

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2 T brown sugar

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1⁄2 ground ginger

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Dash of salt

Directions: Place tuna steaks in a shallow dish. Drizzle soy sauce over both sides of fish; cover and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes. Combine the last 7 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer papaya mixture for 20 minutes or until papaya is tender. Remove the chutney from heat and keep warm. Prepare grill. Place tuna on a grill rack coated with cooking spray and grill for 4 minutes on each side or until tuna is medium rare. Serve tuna steak with papaya chutney.

About the cook:

Occupation: Elementary Resource teacher

What do you enjoy most about cooking? Creating and making new recipes.

When did you first start experimenting with recipes? When I first met my husband and trust me, I would never have won a contest back then.     

Have you considered culinary arts as a profession? No, I do it just for fun.

Do you prefer charcoal or gas? I prefer charcoal, but we use a gas grill.

Brief history of winning recipe: This was a recipe that was given to me by a friend. I altered it slightly to fit our tastes, and it is now one of our favorite recipes in the summer.

About Dr. Christina Ball: Educator, food writer and traveling gourmet Christina Ball operates her Italian culture center, Ecco Italy, out of the chic Main Street Market in Charlottesville, Virginia. In addition to teaching Italian and helping people customize trips to the fabled, food-rich country, she also runs Ecco Cibo, a regional Italian cooking school and catering enterprise. A food writer for the past six years, Christina is currently the dining editor for Virginia Living magazine. For more information on Ecco Italy, visit www.eccoitaly.com or call (434) 825-4390.

 

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