In this irresistible snack, charred poblano pepper and pureed cilantro and serrano chiles serve as a built-in salsa, layering spicy, garlicky flavors into the rich, melted cheese. Flaming it with tequila makes the whole thing a little extra. The pickled carrots on top add acidity and brightness; feel free to substitute pickled jalapeno slices if you have some on-hand.
If you're tired of scorched chicken skin and nearly raw middles, listen up. This simple method delivers a perfect bird every time.
Everyone loves the smoky taste of freshly-grilled chicken, but is cooking the chicken directly on the grates really the best way to go? This hybrid skillet-on-the-grill method lets you capture all the delicious juices that the bird gives off as it cooks, while still allowing the chicken to absorb plenty of barbecue flavor. Smoky charcoal, plus the rich, deep notes of smoked paprika and chipotle chile, add plenty of depth, achiote paste delivers a seductive red color to the meat, and a bed of rosemary adds that irresistible flavor. A final brilliant touch? Thick slices of grilled bread to serve alongside, ready to sop up all those beyond-wonderful juices.
For the last few years, I’ve taught a gardening class at my kids’ elementary school. There are few things more satisfying than planting seeds and seedlings with children and watching the tiny sprouts transform into towering Moulin Rouge sunflowers, juicy cherry tomatoes, and sweet peas suspended on a trellis for the snacking.The weekly afternoon class always seemed to arrive at an inconvenient time. I’d have a few minutes to race to the greenhouse, pack up a wheelbarrow with kid-sized garden gloves and tools, and speed to our designated plot, making up the lesson along the way. I typically felt harried and foolish for signing up for something that made my day more fractured. At least, that’s how I’d feel before the class. But each and every time, a bit of magic would happen that would leave me smiling, like watching kids devour radishes they’d grown themselves (on baguettes slathered with butter and sprinkled with flaky salt) or judging who had harvested the fattest champion carrot. On those warm spring days, it was a blessing to get to buzz around outdoors for 30 minutes and to see the green and growing world through the eyes of the kids.Despite my best efforts, I could never quite get the kids to embrace one of my favorite spring bloomers—artichokes. Have you seen their spectacular purple flowers? The spiky blooms earned a few oohs of admiration, but they failed to rouse the children's appetites like basil leaves or snap peas. In fact, the kids had a hard time believing the weird-looking plant could become anything delicious. An edible member of the thistle family, artichokes have an otherworldly beauty and an ancient pedigree (artichokes were beloved by ancient Greeks and Romans). Like most truly special things, they require a bit of effort to enjoy, but the resulting spring feast is entirely worth it. Artichokes transform any meal into a luxurious occasion.Artichokes are at their best—and easiest to prepare—when cooked quickly over a hot fire, particularly when served with luscious lemon aioli made with the smoky juices and pulp of grilled lemons. You can serve the creamy dressing on the side for dipping, but I prefer to toss it with the artichokes so it seeps into every crack and crevice. With grilled slices of my husband’s levain, one artichoke per person makes a meal at our house, along with a bottle or two of your favorite pink wine, of course!
Although there have been sweltering exceptions, the end of October usually signals a break in the Texas heat. For me, that means the season of campfires, cashmere, knee-high boots, and Halloween has officially arrived. As luck would have it, our neighborhood in Austin hosts a parade that starts a few blocks from our house. Like our swelling city, the parade has grown over the last few years, resulting in an increasing number of superheroes, mermaids, and parents pulling wagons of witches and bumblebees who stop at our door. And while I love to whip up spooky snacks for the kids (like a skeleton-shaped crudité or various treats spiked with gummy worms), I love including the adults in the fun.The parade starts early, and it’s always a scramble to get kids home from school and into costumes. Our location makes us a natural home base for last-minute flourishes and pre-parade happy hour. Friends arrive with kids already jacked up on candy from school parties, and attempt to add face paint, adjust wigs, and dole out swords and magic wands. To help diffuse the anxiety of these harried parents, I like to whip up a special adults-only punch that takes a cue from palomas—the margarita’s more refreshing cousin.In this Grilled Pineapple–Tequila Punch, the sweet and smoky notes of grilled pineapple meld deliciously with tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde (a spicy, crisp poblano liqueur), and splashes of pineapple and lime juices to create a punch that’s the perfect Halloween equalizer. You can make this recipe as easy as you like, and use store-bought pineapple juice if you want to skip the grill. If you do, I like to avoid canned pineapple juice and seek out cold-pressed juice (and, of course, I still use freshly squeezed limes). Mint sprigs complement the fruit and green vegetal notes of the chile, adding that extra level of festive fragrance. And if you happen to have a heat wave, you can even freeze slices of jalapeño in ice cubes to keep the punch nice and cool. But let’s cross our fingers and hope for a lovely cold snap, shall we?
Being a gal who lives on the rustic side of life (mismatched dishware, Mason jar centerpieces, a general disregard for fussiness), fruit galettes have long been my go-to desserts. I love how you can roll the crust into a haphazard circle, top it with a heap of the season’s best fruit (lightly sweetened, casually spiced), flop over the ragged edges, and bake something wildly fragrant, bubbly, and downright gorgeous.Because I’m somewhat obsessed about making the most of my fire and the lingering heat that a bed of embers provides, lately I’ve been baking galettes on the grill. I love how a chimney of charcoal can carry you through cocktails (see charred citrus margaritas) to dinner to dessert. It’s easier than it sounds, particularly when you think about working your grill as an oven (e.g. grill-roasted chicken). Just as a chicken benefits from the unique “charred” flavor of charcoal, so do fruit and pastry. The first time I grill-baked this tart, I slid the parchment onto a pizza stone. I should have realized that the concentrated heat would blacken the bottom of the crust before the fruit had time to cook—and it did. Now I drape the pastry into a lavishly buttered cast-iron skillet or enamel-coated baking dish, and the results are perfect (with the added bonus of not heating up my kitchen).When the berry conga line of summer transitions to fall, it’s apples that capture my attention—particularly thin-skinned varieties like Pink Lady that don’t need peeling (their skins have a snappy cider flavor). I’ve loved the combination of black pepper and pastry since I bit into the pepper-flecked flaky apple tart at Poilâine in Paris. The subtle warmth shoots through the buttery crust (and caramel sweetness of the fruit) like a swallow of Cognac on a winter day. Here I use pink peppercorns, which have a more delicate floral flavor. There’s no shame in embracing the color motif (what’s life without whimsy?) so in addition to those Pink Lady apples I also use Himalayan pink salt, but feel free to swap in another sweet-tart fall apple variety and your favorite fancy salt.
It’s not the sort of meal you make and serve with a casual shrug: Preparing a whole duck for dinner is an occasion—and a gesture of generosity and serious sentiment. Duck is my dad’s favorite thing to eat and something he rarely splurges on when dining out, so every summer I smoke one for him as his Father’s Day gift (and round out the evening with a couple of great bottles of Pinot Noir).Before I started relying on my trusty PK Grill to fire up dinner multiple times a week, preparing duck at home was a daunting process. I fretted about splattering fat and overcooking and drying out the meat. When I made gumbo, I relied on my local Asian grocery for a roasted duck (something I still recommend in a pinch).But grill-roasting a duck is as easy as a chicken (particularly when you use an instant-read thermometer to gauge doneness), and the deeply flavored results are as satisfying as anything you can get in a restaurant. Because the smoke provides its own seasoning, you don’t need to add much more to the equation. I usually season the bird with a warm, peppery mix of pink and black peppercorns and salt. Before trussing, I insert a shallot and fresh herbs in the cavity (feel free to add garlic or a quartered satsuma to the mix) to perfume the meat, and I coat the skin with a splash of Maggi Seasoning sauce (a trick to enhance the umami flavors).Part of duck’s appeal, of course, is its flavorful fat. So, when I smoke duck over indirect heat I capture the rewards of that slow roast by cooking something else underneath. In this case, a cast-iron skillet of potatoes crisp and become tender under a steady baste of rendering duck fat. Afterwards, I balance the hearty meat-and-potatoes mix with a pile of peppery greens like frisée that have been lightly dressed with red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. The combination is both rustic and refined, and surprisingly time-efficient—a griller’s version of a one-dish wonder.By the time I carve the gorgeously bronzed bird, my dad and I have certainly enjoyed a glass or two of that Pinot and a couple of hours together on lawn chairs in the driveway, trading memories and favorite stories from my childhood. In that way, my gesture is actually a gift to myself, because smoking a duck provides a hall pass to be still, to appreciate the pleasures of the moment, and to enjoy the wafting aromas of the meal to come.
Each summer, we escape the Texas heat to visit my parents in Minnesota. Most of that time is spent at their place “up north” on the shores of Leech Lake. The massive body of cold water is a mecca for walleye fisherman, but for me, it’s all about the cool nights and loon watching. In the evenings, we set out in my dad’s boat across the smooth, dark water in search of a quiet bay and, if we’re lucky, Minnesota’s state bird. The black-and-white-speckled birds descend from the sky, cast a wary red eye as they drift past, and—quicker than a sneeze—slip under water in search of prey. Loons have various calls, including an alarming tremolo that sounds like maniacal laughter, short hoots, and a wild yodel meant to guard their territory. The Holy Grail, however, is a long, hauntingly beautiful wail that drifts across the evening like a prayer.In addition to hoodie weather, rousing cornhole tournaments, and time with my family, my other favorite lake tradition is lazy, smoked-fish brunches. In addition to Bloody Marys (lavishly garnished with pickled vegetables and a beef stick) and craft beers from Duluth, the star of the spread is smoked fish. Because I’m fussy about ingredients and the cooking process (fresh fish and a light hand with the smoke) I much prefer to smoke it at home. The fish couldn’t be easier to prepare: It’s brushed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of heat. You don’t want to mask the fish’s delicate flavor with a carpet of spice rub here. I top the fish with sprigs of fresh dill or thyme and then smoke it over indirect heat for about 20 minutes. The ambient heat of the covered grill causes the herb sprigs to meld to the fish and perfume it with a lovely flavor.When it comes to rounding out the board, you can be as simple or lavish as you wish. Lemon wedges, caperberries, cornichons, chopped red onion, sturdy seeded crackers, and sour cream flavored with a spoonful or two of prepared horseradish are essential in my book. Chopped hard-cooked eggs, radishes, cheeses (creamy and aged), and a crunchy cucumber salad (splashed with cider vinegar and olive oil) are other welcome additions. Ideally, the meal will stretch well into the afternoon, until the light begins to fade and the time is right for more loon song.
If you're looking for a show-stopping rib recipe for your next big summer barbecue or cookout, look no further than this oven-baked smoked pork rib recipe. Smoking then baking ribs yields meltingly tender, deeply flavored ribs that are incredibly satisfying to eat—moist and meaty, with a texture that's tender but not falling off the bone. To make them, begin with a dry rub of warm red spices and gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes), which adds peppery heat that's the perfect partner for the natural sweetness of pork.The ribs start over a two-zone charcoal fire perfumed with a few wood chunks. After the ribs have absorbed a couple of hours of smoke, they're wrapped in foil and parchment and finished in the oven, where the low heat allows the meat to gently braise in the seasoned juices. These ribs are perfect for barbecues, delicious eaten out of hand with hot sauce or a touch of barbecue sauce, but great on their own, too. This Memphis-style rib recipe relies on St. Louis–style spareribs, but the method works for any rack.