Spring is here and so goes the comfort food of wintertime! Au Revoir to Beouf Bourguignon, see ya, King Ranch Casserole, adios Enchilada Plato de Combinacion! In comes the fresh greens, grilled fish, poultry and meats, filling the air of woody smoke and spring scented aromas from rosemary to budding plants. Outdoor party planning begins to unfold while these mild temps last and before the onslaught of the purgatory temps of Summer, where friends and family can still enjoy an outdoor BBQ without hating sweltering temps, sweat saturated clothing and the onslaught of mosquitos bearing down on you and your guests like a kamikaze attack.
The BBQ menus are what become sophisticatedly simple, yet you can boost these flavor profiles with small creative twists on the classic items of grilled chicken, grilled hamburgers, bbq meats of all kinds, potato salads, fresh fruits, etc. I say “take a leap and throw caution to the wind”! Start with brining your chicken (1/4 C Brown Sugar, 1/4 C Kosher Salt to 1 quart of water - heat just until emulsified, then add chicken WITH ICE so you're brining, not poaching, the chicken, and allow it to soak for about 45 minutes. Don't let it sit for longer than an hour or so, or the chicken will take on a rubbery texture.), prior to grilling to retain moisture, make a BBQ sauce so simple that it doesn’t mask the flavor of the chicken, find a brioche bun made fresh locally, find fresh accoutrements like an Heirloom tomato, greens, pickles from the closest farmers market, whip up a fresh mayo/aioli from garden fresh herbs, grill your avocado, tomatoes, onions and peppers to make an incredible salsa or guacamole salad.
Move the heat of the kitchen to the outdoors and share the smells of your culinary prowess with the neighborhood! Find a way to make a complete meal on your grill, like those brined chicken breasts stuffed with a local cheese (Eagle Mountain in Lipan) and roasted peppers. Bake/grill fresh French fries by adding a couple of bricks to the top of your grill grates so you can elevate a planca/sheet pan above the heat, then slather with oil, creating smokey, crispy fries, and serve them with a roasted Ancho-Poblano Ketchup. Heck, grill your Romaine Lettuce for a char-flavored salad and grill your peaches for a fresh Cobbler. Deconstruct the cobbler by serving on a fresh baked biscuit, cover with a simple, cinnamony, butter-brown sugar syrup cooked on top of the grill. While all the grilling gastronomy is created, find an outdoor electrical receptacle to plug in an ice cream maker filled with a fresh fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream with a hint of mint.
Lastly, you don’t have to make the watermelon for the coup d’etat. Cut into small bite discs for a Margarita-flavored horse doovers topped with cojita and sweet jalapeño for an incredible start. You can find that recipe here in the Cowboy's Kitchen.
You can also cut the Watermelon into small bite-sized cubes, stir in a little EVOO, chopped mint, feta cheese, and sprinkle with a little toasted sesame seed for a cool, quenching side salad for perhaps a tangy, grilled bbq salmon, smoked ribs, spicy chicken thighs, etc.
Don’t forget a cold, tasty adult beverage to enhance your culinary creativity. Adding fresh fruit, juices, and herbs can always make the experience well worth the effort! If you’re not prone to adult beverages, leave out the spirits for a kid-friendly beverage, as well.
Happy grilling and stay tuned to cowboychefnewton.com for recipes to follow!!