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Fire up the grill: 3 recipes for an easy Labor Day cookout

Grilled chicken wings


Fire up the grill: 3 recipes for an easy Labor Day cookout

If you're anything like us, you're gearing up for a cookout (or two) this Labor Day weekend. But don't just throw pre-made hamburger patties on the grill and scoop out grocery-store potato salad — it's just as easy to fire up the grill for simple dishes like chicken wings and thick rib-eye steaks, and you'll still have plenty of time to visit with guests.

Here is your three-course Labor Day plan-of-attack: 

Grilled Chicken Wings
Is there any cookout appetizer better than hot-off-the-grill chicken wings? We think not. Southern Kitchen's favorite grilled chicken wings make great use of always-on-hand pantry ingredients to bring out the wings' savory flavor notes. All you need to rustle up is some oil, soy sauce, garlic and lemon juice for the ultimate in Labor Day ease. Be sure to give the wings a few hours to marinate, then cook them (relatively) low and slow until tender. A quick blast of high heat adds flavorful char, then you're ready to serve.
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Cast Iron Seared Rib-Eye Steak
Now that the grill is revved up to high heat, you'll be in a great place to sear thick, juicy steaks. Indeed, we think the best way to cook a rib-eye is in a super pre-heated cast iron skillet on a hot grill. The deep flavor and caramelization provided by cast iron translates to big flavor in your steak, and you'll need little more than salt and pepper to adorn the meat. Be sure to give the steaks plenty of time to rest before slicing into generous pieces and serving — once you try cooking your steaks this way, you'll never go back to just tossing them directly on the grill. 
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Grilled Eggplant and Summer Fig Salad
Finally, make use of the last of the season's summer figs in this grilled eggplant side. Using the grill adds a smoky char to the eggplant, which helps highlight the figs' sweetness. The peppery arugula, creamy ricotta and salty country ham balance all of the ingredients together into a tasty, harmonious bite. You can even grill the eggplant far ahead of time and assemble the salad while your steaks cook. It's easy as pie... er, salad.
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Photo Credit (salad): Lauren Booker

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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.