With warm weather returning all around the South, it’s only natural to fire up the grill in the summer when it’s dinnertime. Chef Jeffrey Gardner encourages you to enjoy the season and try these simple, delicious outdoor grilling recipes.
I tend to gravitate toward simple, lighter preparations when grilling outdoors for two main reasons that are both related to minimalism. First, I don’t want to bring a lot of ingredients from my kitchen to my grill. Just a marinated or brined piece of meat or fish and perhaps a vegetable or two is all you really need to make the most out of your grill. Second, and most important, the lack of clutter around my grill means I can relax in a patio chair with a cold beverage.
With that in mind, I encourage you to try out these simple, delicious recipes geared for outdoor grilling.
Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chops
When preparing pork chops on the grill, exposing them to a salty brine will ensure your pork remains moist and juicy. At its most basic, a brine is a salt and sugar solution enhanced with aromatics or spices. The herbaceous notes of the tea leaves permeate through the entire pork chop, and the spices, herbs, garlic, and onion add complexity to an otherwise simple brine. While the recipe calls for the pork chops to receive a 24-hour bath, I’ve found that brines usually can work their magic on a single serving of meat in about four to six hours. Finally, use the ice to cool the brine before pouring over the pork chops. If the brine is still warm in any way, it can start to cook the pork, rendering it tougher than desired.
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Grilled Corvina with Green Tomato Salsa Verde
A member of the drum family, corvina is a mild, firm-fleshed fish whose flavor somewhat resembles mahi mahi. Cooking it on a cast iron skillet placed on or inside a hot grill provides the opportunity to create a great sear, while simultaneously providing a smoky quality to the finished product. Since cast iron retains heat so well, we’ve chosen to use the same pan for both the salsa verde and the fish. Green tomatoes offer a bright, acidic contrast to the flaky fish and the heavy dose of fresh herbs make the sauce a natural pairing with fish. Don’t worry about putting tomatoes into a cast iron pan: The heat should be high enough to guarantee a low cooking time, so the skillet should not impart any metallic flavors to the sauce. Feel free to substitute any other fish you prefer, depending on what is most fresh in your area.
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The grill can be an overlooked cooking medium when it comes to desserts, but the high heat brings a great char and depth of flavor to fresh fruit. With a marinade of butter, brown sugar, and dark rum, the peaches pick up pleasingly bitter notes during the grilling process. I personally prefer to cook peaches until the outside is barely softened, to retain some of the structural integrity of the peach -- this would be great alongside slices of pound cake with whipped cream or simply served with vanilla ice cream. If good peaches are not available near you, pineapple is an excellent substitute.
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