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Fire up Memorial Day Weekend menus: History of grilling & barbecue plus recipes

Evolution of BBQ
Evolution of BBQ
Photo courtesy of Dream Reality Syndrome

Nothing says summer holiday like grilling.

Even if this Memorial Day weekend’s weather suggests April and huddling around the outdoor pit might mean more warmth than culinary technique – it’s time to fire up!

First a bit of history.

Not so far back to when fire was discovered rather starting with barbecue and grilling in America.

This Examiner is a proud member of the Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY) where the hunger for food history is embraced and celebrated.

The history of food offers a window into culture and tradition and an endlessly fascinating myriad of subjects to explore and discuss.

The history of barbecue as an American tradition and social institution can be hashed out with a craft beer while, well, barbecuing.

Long before open-island kitchens became commonplace, allowing Americans to interact with the host-as-cook or the Food Network branded food as entertainment, was that barbecue was unique for its communal experience. Guests watched the process from the building of the fire pit to the cooking itself.

The evolution of the barbecue as that icon of American culture can be traced to Native Americans in the 16th and 17th century according to Barbecue: The History of an American Institution. Despite a cornucopia of recipes, the author, Robert F. Moss, notes that very little had been written on the subject that is practically a religion for so many, especially the male cook. In researching and writing his book, Moses became a bit of a BBQ-sleuth to track down barbecue’s oral histories.

Some historians credit Spanish explorers, er conquerors, who used the word barbacoa to describe the Caribbean Natives slow cooking over wood.

The American South boasted a strong barbecue tradition with settlers by the 19th century, especially since pigs were so popular as part of their homegrown menus.

Southern blacks and their Afro-Caribbean heritage popularized barbecue at church festivals and picnics especially because grilling didn’t require expensive cuts of meet and food could be served in abundance, pot luck style.

As the Blacks migrated north, they brought their soulfoul and delicious recipes with them.

Throughout the last century, public and backyard barbecues were used as political rallies and support for the troops.

It’s recorded that “early colonial barbecues were load, unruly and populated by heavy drinkers,” according to The History of Barbecue and Grilling by Tori Avey.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Regional distinctions characterize both the style and local ingredients for sauces, marinades or rubs.

Overall, there are four main style of barbecue named for their provenance:

North Carolina: vinegar-based sauce used to smoke whole hogs

Memphis: sweet tomato-based or molasses sauce with pulled pork

Kansas City: dry rub with ribs or turkey cooked over hickory, oak or pecan wood

Texas: mesquite cowboy style brisket or beef

There is a distinction between grilling and barbecue. Most of us in the North use the terms interchangeably; however they are two different cooking techniques.

According to The History of Barbecue and Grilling by Tori Avey:

Grilling is cooking over open flame or high heat source. Grilling is best for foods that cook quickly including hamburgers, steaks, chicken, seafood and vegetables.

Barbecue is low, slow way to cook over indirect heat. BBQ thus is rendered moist, tender and infused with the sauce, rub or smoky wood used. BBQ is better when using big tough cuts of meat such as brisket, ribs and pulled pork.

Adventures in Memorial Weekend grilling or barbecue can include choice location at the beach, the lake, or the backyard. Choose lamb, seafood, poultry, pork, beef, or fruits.

Flavor the fire hickory, oak, mesquite or pecan for a woody flavor good with pork or poultry. Fruit woods: apple, cherry and plum work well with pork, salmon and game. (We need more game sources!)

Herbs on the Grill

Use herbs when grilling. Favorites include: tarragon with fish and poultry; thyme with poultry, pork and vegetables; rosemary cuttings are ideal with lamb, potatoes, or poultry and dill with fish, poultry or pork, sage with pork, duck or sausage, basil with tomatoes, chicken, chives with potatoes, hamburgers, fish, lemongrass or lemon balm with lobster or skate, garlic with everything!

Using herb can also drastically cut down on harmful carcinogenics that can form on meat when grilling, according to Rodale News, making for a healthy and tasty outdoor cooking, with rosemary the most effective.

Herbs can be placed in marinades, threaded on skewers with the main dish. They can also be used right on the coals. Sage and rosemary work well this way by firsts soaking them in water for a few minutes after the flames are gone. Lay the damp herbs on the coals and the grilled food is infused with the herb flavor.

Or put the herb on the grill and the food directly on top.

Mint, oregano and lemon balm can be placed in a foil packet or marinade. The herbs can also be used in foil with the meat or vegetables and olive oil or butter, sealed and then grilled together.

Grilling and BBQ Recipes

Bill’s Emergency Room Chicken Wings


2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons seasoned salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon chicken Rub


Put all ingredients in a bag including two pounds of chicken wings that have been cut and cleaned. Shake well until coated.

Cook on grill over high heat (400 degrees) for approximately 30 minutes.

Finger lickin’ good!

(And yes, a guest did have to visit the emergency room after an afternoon eating bowls of the hot, spicy wings. Perhaps it was the quantity consumed….)

Serves 4

From this Examiner’s book, From this Examiner’s book, The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook

Chef Keith Luce - Stout BBQ Sauce

½ cup or a little less of vegetable oil

4 onions (small dice)

1.3 liters tomato puree

1 liter Stout beer

1 c. molasses

100ml cider vinegar

1/4 c. brown sugar (packed)

Salt to taste

Heat oil in medium sauce pot and sweat onions until translucent. Add all other ingredients and simmer gently for 1 to 2 hours. Be sure to stir the bottom of the pot often to avoid burning. Slather on your favorite ribs, steaks, and chops.

Chef Jason Weiner, Almond restaurant - Grilled Quail With a Warm Beet, Frisee, and Pistachio Salad


4 semi boneless quail (quail with all bones removed except the leg and wing bones)

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. sherry vinegar

2 tbsp. grapeseed oil (Canola would also be fine.)

1 tsp. cracked black peppercorns

3 sprigs fresh sage

1 1/2 c. roasted baby beets, mixed colors, chopped to large dice

1 head frisee, cleaned (core and dark green leaves discarded)

3 tbsp. pistachios, roasted and shelled

5 chives, cut into matchstick size

kosher salt to taste


About 5 hours before you plan on eating, lay the quail in one layer in a small casserole dish or Tupperware container. They should fit snuggly.

In a mixing bowl, combine the honey, vinegar, oil, sage, and peppercorns. Wisk vigorously for a moment. Pour the mixture over the quail. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 5 hours.

Heat your grill. Remove the quail from the marinade and season with salt. Put the quail on the hottest part of the grill. You want to crisp the skin before the quail gets overcooked in the middle. Quail is best when pink. If your grill is nice and hot, the bird shouldn’t need to be on the grill for more than 2 1/2 to 3 minutes (2 minutes on one side, 30 to 60 seconds on the other).

While the quail is cooking, put the reserved marinade in a nonreactive saucepot and heat it on high heat. As soon as the marinade comes to a simmer, take it off the heat and pour it through a strainer to remove the sage and black pepper.

Put the beets, frisee, and nuts in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and toss. Add the warm marinade. (You may not need it all.) Toss again.

Divide the salad between four warm salad plates.

When you take the quail off the grill, let them rest for a moment, then cut each of them in half. Lay the halves criss-cross style on top of the salads.

Garnish with the chives and serve.

Serves 4

Miss Lily’s Jerk Fish – from the kitchen of NYC’s Caribbean restaurant in SoHo


2lbs fish fillet (firm flesh works best)

Miss Lily's Jerk Marinade


If not available from your friend's boat, buy 2 lbs. fish fillets from the fish store or supermarket. Firm flesh fish works best and salmon works really well.

Place fillets in a baking dish. Marinate with 1/3 bottle of Miss Lily's jerk marinade for 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator, turning fish once.

On the grill:

Light the coals allow them to burn to red hot.

When coals are ready, place fish fillets on a greased perforated grilling grate. Grill skin side down for 3-5 minutes and then turn on grill for another 3-5 minutes depending on thickness of fish.

When done serve with Miss Lily's Jerk BBQ Sauce or Rass Hot Jerk BBQ Sauce as a dipping sauce.

Serves 4

Miss Lily’s classic Jamaican jerk sauce line debuted last year and earned a top five finalist spot in the 2014 sofi Awards’ Outstanding Cooking Sauce category.

Its all-natural ingredients include scallions, brown sugar, Habanero chilies, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cumin, and Scotch Bonnet Peppers. The sauce also makes a great hostess gift.

To really kick off summer, Miss Lily's is hosting a Caribbean BBQ at Whole Foods Brooklyn (214 Third Street) next Friday. The rooftop celebration will be held 5-8pm and is open to all.

Executive Chef Adam Schop and his team from Miss Lily’s will “man” the grill, serving up their spicey, trademark jerk chicken and grilled corn, and Whole Foods Chef Octavio Martinez will prepare a seasonal dish.

Miss Lily’s:

Stew Leonard Jr's Grilling Tips and Tricks

This man is detail-oriented, starting his recipes with lots of grill prep!

Prepare the grill

Just before cooking, lightly oil the grilling rack to keep meat from sticking to the grill, or tearing when you turn it, so it will not lose any of its natural juices.

Keep the grill clean

The best time to clean the grill is when the grill is still hot. You can also spray the grill with a non-stick spray to release any leftover food particles. After cleaning, be sure to keep grill dry to enhance grill life and keep food clean.

Indirect versus Direct Heat

Use direct heat to sear meats to seal in the juices and create grill marks. Foods that can be cooked over direct heat are steak, kabobs, sausage and vegetables. Another method for gas grills is to turn one side on high and the other side to medium. For a charcoal grill, use more briquettes on one side. Always allow meats to stand before carving to allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat. Individual steaks should stand for 5 minutes, and roasts should stand for 10 minutes.

Use indirect heat for more delicate foods (like fish) or foods that need to be cooked slowly so they do not dry out, such as roasts, ribs, and whole chickens or turkeys.

Custom Trim and Cut

Trim away excess fat (too much fat can cause flare-up on the grill and give food a burned flavor). Cut to desired thickness - the best thickness for grilling is 1"or 1 ½" - anything less will tend to dry out the meat.

BBQ Sauce

Do not put barbeque sauce on food before grilling, or the food will burn. Brush sauce on the last few minutes of cooking and right before serving. If you marinate a piece of meat before grilling, wipe off any excess marinade before placing on the grill. Another option is to put a rub on the meat before grilling. To make, combine equal parts of kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, and brown sugar. Rub it on the meat and let it sit for a few hours before grilling it. Great for ribs, pork chops and chicken.

This is why men love to grill: it’s all the toys and technology!

Here are a few of Stew’s Favorite Grilling Gadgets:

Shaker Baskets: Keeps vegetables from falling through the grill rack.

Corn Baskets: Holds four ears of corn at a time and grills corn evenly without burning.

Cedar Grilling Planks: Great for grilling fish on the grill. Just soak plank, heat on grill for three minutes on each side, and add food - no turning or flipping needed.

Viewed at the recent Architectural Digest Show, the Caliber Grill red corvette of grills is the most expensive outdoor cooker this Examiner has ever witnessed - a hot ten grand for this model.

Kalamazoo offers a full line of grilling and outdoor BBQ products, including a pizza oven. And recipes, too.

Kalamazoo offers a world of outdoor grilling products to produce flavors of a wood grill or smoker, pizza ovens, Gaucho Grill – with a water-wheel crank to raise and lower the grill by hand, and outdoor kitchen appliances, including a dishwasher, fosters an outdoor food and drink lifestyle.
With its Hybrid Fire Grills, a real wood fire creates intense dry heat with its Dragon Burners or the outdoor chef can use a gas fire. The countertop Artisan Fire Pizza Oven is powered by propane or gas, has a hollow-core baking deck to better bake the dough and puts out 42,000 BTUs of cooking power. A second burner in the back features an open flame to heat the interior stone.

Filet Mignon on the Grill Recipe

Marinade: Place the filet in a zip lock bag or shallow dish. Season with olive oil, shallots, red wine, garlic, salt and pepper. Whole filets need to marinade overnight and filets already in steak form need to marinade 1 ½-2 hours. Let steaks dry to prevent flare-ups from the olive oil or pat dry before placing on grill.

Make sure the grill is very hot (about 600 degrees) before putting the filet on. The first few minutes on the grill are crucial, since this sears the meat and seals in the juices. To sear, make hash marks (a diamond crisscross effect) by turning the filets 90 degrees.

Turn filets sparingly: To keep filets flavorful, only turn them once during grilling.

Cook the filets for about six minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Do not pierce with a fork, or the juices will seep out. If using the touch method, press the meat with your finger. If it is still very soft, it is rare. If it is slightly firm and elastic to the touch, it is medium rare or medium. If it is tight and firm, it is well done.

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