Test Kitchen Tips for Memorial Day
Is it possible to cook a great rack of lamb on a gas grill?
It's totally possible and quite easy. You can either sear it on the stove and finish it on the grill or do it completely on the grill from beginning to end. Since it's a small cut, you don't want to blast it, but you also don't want to slowly cook it or it will dry out. Medium to medium-high heat is best. Aim for about 25 minutes. Internal temperature should be about 125 for medium-rare. Here's a recipe from Sang Yoon.
What are your favorite Memorial Day recipes?
I love doing a mixed grill with sausages, burgers, marinated skirt steak and other red meats, plus lots of chicken and seafood kabobs. Everybody's happy. For sides, sturdy salads like Asian-flavored slaw or a white bean and tuna salad with vinaigrette are also delicious. Dessert can be tricky at cookouts. Fresh fruit shortcakes and fruit salads always work. For beverages, if you want a departure from beer, an icy cold sangria or pitcher drink is great for outdoors. More good ideas are here.
Grace, would love your ideas for pork shoulder on the grill.
I think boneless shoulder is easier to handle and cooks a bit faster. If you have time to devote to a whole shoulder on the bone, the meat will be a bit moister. But slow, indirect grilling for hours is the key. This one, from Adam Perry Lang, is fantastic. It takes nearly ten hours, so plan ahead.
Grace, if it's Memorial Day then it's time for my famous beef/chorizo burgers! I usually use Chicago-style hard rolls. Can you suggest any other type of burger bun to use?
I also like hard rolls with burgers, especially at cookouts. Soft rolls fall apart too easily. Ciabatta rolls are one of my favorites because they're soft on the inside and super-crunchy on the outside, holding all the yummy juices inside. Soft potato rolls are delicious but I prefer them at the table. These burgers are all knockouts, especially the umami burger, which has a subtle flavor of mushrooms.
I'm getting quite bored of grilled chicken, even though I love it. Do you have any recommendations for new and inventive variations that will stand out, like something with Southeast Asian flavors? Thanks!
Check out this slideshow of some fantastic grilled chicken dishes, including many with Asian flavors. I like these choices because they are so global in their flavorings—one from India, one from Africa, several from Southeast Asia and a few down-home American ones.
Grace, what is your all-time favorite potato salad variation?
We have a lot of great potato salads for you guys. My two favorites have interesting twists. One uses Greek yogurt sauce (tzatziki) in place of the mayo and the other folds in hummus for extra richness. Both are in this slideshow.
What are some healthy grilling recipes that people will not recognize as "healthy" and "low-cal"?
Anything with lean protein, such as chicken breast, pork tenderloin, flank steak and, surprisingly, skinless duck breast. It goes without saying that fish, high in omega 3s, are also a great choice—not necessarily low fat, but super-healthy and delicious. Some more healthy grilling ideas.
What healthy cookout recipes would children like?
Baked beans are always super-healthy if you keep the bacon to a minimum or drain the fat after rendering it. I like broccoli slaw, which uses the stems, shredded, with carrots and a gingery dressing. Here's the recipe...Kids really love anything cooked on a stick, so if you put a bunch of good veggies together, brush it with olive oil, garlic and smoked paprika (just a pinch), they're more likely to try these vegetables because they can hold them in their hands.
Grace, any suggestions for a poppy seed dressing that is low-calorie, to go with a bowl of fresh fruit?
This one, from Bobby Flay, has a great citrus flavor and is really low-calorie. It's good on greens, fruits, and cheese plates.
I am doing a special diet that limits fat and carbs. I'm looking for some good recipes that use vegetables like celery root, fennel, bell peppers, asparagus, and/or broccolini. I've done all of the above roasted, but am looking to take them out to the grill. Any recipes come to mind?
Anything you roast can go on the grill. In fact, a lot of the oil that you brush on the vegetables will drip off, leaving you with a relatively low-fat finished dish. That goes for certain cuts of meat and fish as well. Try some of these vegetables and in place of some of the dressings, you can sprinkle some smoked paprika, garam masala, or berber spices to perk up some flavor.
Do you have any suggestions for what to do with celery root?
Yes: celery root remoulade, which is a salad of finely-shredded raw celery root, is refreshing and delicious. This one, from Prime Meats chefs the two Frankies, uses celery root and celery in a very light and refreshing salad.