There’s so many different pieces to an great outdoor meal that it is hard to know where to begin. This past weekend we really dove into summer and put about every part of the “mixed grill” concept (and our own very limited small Webber, old school charcoal BBQ) to the test.
This was the result.
Admittedly, there’s a lot going on here. But we had an eclectic crowd – vegetarians meat lovers, fish-onlys, non-red meaters – and so we went for quantity and diversity.
The basic menu here was – Rib-eye steaks, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Pork Ribs, Marinated Tuna, Marinated Veggie & Shrimp Skewers, Homemade Cole Slaw and Mayo-less Potato Salad. Oh, and homemade Kansas City Bourbon BBQ Sauce.
The Potato Salad is in a previous post – but here’s the shorthand on the rest:
Lightly brush both sides of the steak with a little olive oil, then sprinkle with S&P and let stand to get the meat to room temperature. Grill about 6-9 minutes on each side depending on BBQ heat and your preference of “doneness.”
There’s two ways to go here – a dry rub vs. a wet marinade. For a dry rub – we did paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, dry mustard and ground black pepper. Use a ratio of about 2 to 1 on the salt to the paprika and mustard group to the peppers group.
For the wet marinade we did: in a blender or food processor combine 3/4 olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 Tbs Dijon mustard, a handful of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (you can also use other fresh herbs but remove stems on all), 1 Tbsp paprika, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pulse on a medium/low setting until smooth.
Place the ribs in a foil lined, high sided baking tray, bone side down, and rub the dry or wet rub on the meat side, covering everything well. Cover the whole tray with more foil, sealing the edges all around.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 1.5-2 hours for one rack of ribs, and 2-2.5 hours for two racks. Make sure the juices stay inside the pan and the meat is tender and not-quite-falling-off-the-bone. Once cooked, remove the ribs from the baking tray and pour the juices from the pan into a heat proof measuring cup. Add equal parts of BBQ sauce (the homemade one below works just fine if you can spare some) and chicken stock to the juices to get at least 1-1/2 cups, you can use as much as 2-1/2 if you have it. Whisk this all together. Once you’re ready to put the ribs on the grill, brush both sides of the rack thoroughly with the juices/BBQ sauce mixture. When you place them on the grill, they will flame up, so be careful. It is good to get some char on the ribs, but don’t burn them. Continue to baste both sides and just grill enough to get the right texture on the outside of the ribs. Serve with more BBQ sauce brushed all over and on the side – your choice. It’s a glorious mess to eat.
We used the same paprika/mustard rub we used for the ribs on the chicken, and we used full breast pieces with skin and bone still on them. However, we baked them for much less time than we did the pork – probably about 45 mins – but also covered on a baking tray, just like the rib racks. However, when we went to the grill, we didn’t brush with the juices/BBQ sauce mixture as we wanted to not burn the skin, but to get some good, clear grilling marks on it. We grilled them for about 10 more mins per side and served them, cut off the bone and sliced into chunks, with BBQ sauce.
We used a 1 lb fillet of Albacore, but Ahi works even better. We marinate the tuna steak in a marinade made of 1 cup (low salt) soy sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup sesame oli and chopped green onions. Mix, whisk, all of these ingredient together until sugar has dissolved. Place the steak in the marinade and turn occasionally. It can marinade overnight or just for a few hours. It only needs to be seared on the grill – 2-3 mins per side, max, depending on heat. Slice into 1/4″ strips against the grain and serve.
MARINATED VEGGIE AND SHRIMP SKEWERS
We used a dill & lemon marinade for these. Combine the juice of 1-2 lemons (about 1/2 cup), 1 Tbs dill, 1/3 cup olive oil, and a dash for salt and pepper. Chop yellow, orange and red peppers into 1-2″ chunks, use whole mushrooms and coarsely cut onions into 2″ squares. We use these veggies as they tend to hold up to the heat and stay on the sticks when grilling. Toss all of the chopped veggies along with raw shrimp (shell on or shelled, your choice) in the marinade and let stand for at least an hour, but up to 12 hours. Put all of the ingredients, alternating to the best of your ability, on wooden or metal skewers. Cook on the edges of the grill so that they don’t flare up and cook more slowly over time – about 20-25 mins.
We used 1/2 head of green cabbage and 1/2 head of red cabbage – coarsely chopped and placed into a large bowl. We then added 3-5 chopped carrots, 6-8 chopped green onions, 1 Tbs sugar, 1-1/2 Tbs mayo and 1 Tbs sour cream – tossed this all together (careful, it does get messy) and finished with a little salt and pepper. Then chilled in the fridge for at least an hour.
BOURBON BBQ SAUCE
This has become our favorite BBQ sauce – it is simple but incredibly flavorful – and we often double it in order to have enough to around, especially with 2 racks of ribs and french fries. If there was a way to work around the bottled ketchup, it would be even better. (We do have a homemade ketchup recipe that has been in my family for about 100+ years and I made a version of this with that homemade ketchup, but it didn’t quite live up to the taste of this one, I’m afraid – more to come on this, I’m sure.) In a saucepan combine 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup bourbon, 3 Tbs brown sugar, 3 Tbs maple syrup, 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs Dijon mustard, 1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke (we found this in the BBQ sauce section of our regular grocery store), 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Combine well with a balloon whisk and bring all ingredients just to the beginning of a boil and reduce the heat to as low as you can while still keeping a few bubbles popping per second. Allow to cook down by 1/3 to 1/2 to desired thickness – this should take about 25-40 mins. Continue to use a large balloon whisk to stir at regular intervals in order to ensure that the mustard stops clumping together and there is a smooth consistency. Once it is at a good thickness, allow to cool to room temp and serve from bowls as the star condiment.