Grilled Okra--Wait, Wait Hear Me Out

Last summer, my family and I were invited to a friend's place for an afternoon of grilling. He had set up a menu that eliminated the need for plates or eating at the table. All the items were served grill-side. The evening progressed into a parade of grillable finger foods. The highlight for me was the okra. Like many, give me some fried okra and I'll eat it. As long as it wasn't slimy or mushy inside, I'm fine. When I saw my friend put the marinated okra on the grill, I was skeptical.

I'm always telling my daughter that she needs to try things before saying no. Following my own advice, I tried one. Instead of a gooey, mushy bite, the okra was crisp on the outside and still very firm and fresh on the inside. It was screaming with flavor and texture. I was hooked. Over the next year, I've likely grilled pounds and pounds of okra, either as a side or a snack.

Willing to try?

Start with some nice plump okra with few dark spots. (Check the tips for mold, a sign that they've sat for a while.) Wash them, then toss in a bowl with olive oil and Dragon's Breath. For a less spicy version, use Eye of Newt

Place the okra on a grill on high heat. Spread the okra so that they span the available grilling space to allow for better browning. As when charring green peppers, rotate the okra enough to give the outside a good, dark color. Don't leave it on the grill too long or it will start to roast softening up the firm texture inside.

After a few minutes, the okra will blacken. Remove from the grill and serve. They should be eaten soon after coming off the grill. Otherwise, the heat of the okra will continue to cook the inside. Flavors will still be there but you'll lose texture. 

When using it as a starter, I make an easy dipping sauce of yellow mustard and mayonnaise--tart and creamy. Or serve as a side with your favorite steak (pictured here with a side of mushrooms sautéed in pancetta).....GOOD TIMES!

For a good steak recipe, see my post, Perfectly Cooked Steak by Bobby Flay.

I hope you'll give okra a try. If you like vegetables, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

CU@theGrill,

Eddie, Your Apothecary

Dragon Wings

Everyone's got their favorite chicken wings. For me, I can't even consider them in competition for the best unless they are fried and tossed in a wing sauce that has butter--crisp and savory with a vinegary zing. The butter helps the sauce stick to the wing.

When making wings at home, I prefer using the whole wing and grilling them. Because of the fat in the skin, whole wing grilling requires a lot of attention. Wings can go from golden brown to charred to really, really charred in the time it takes to get another beer.

Here is how you can make your own dragon wings.......

A good wing will make you the hero of the neighborhood.

A good wing will make you the hero of the neighborhood.

Open up the wing so that the seasoning covers the whole wing. Reapply as needed.

Open up the wing so that the seasoning covers the whole wing. Reapply as needed.

I start with family pack of wings. Place them on a cookie sheet and open up the wing so you can liberally coat them with Dragon's Breath.

Space them apart so that all sides of the wing cook evenly. Watch out for the wing tip getting stuck in between the grates.

Space them apart so that all sides of the wing cook evenly. Watch out for the wing tip getting stuck in between the grates.

Turn them frequently so that they don't get too charred. Continue until they are all evenly browned. At this point, the wings may look ready to eat but they may still be undercooked on the inside. The next step is to roast them until done.

Turn down the heat or turn off all but one of the burners and move to wings to side that is not light, and continue to roast. Turn frequently to keep the fat rendering off the wing. You'll end up with meatier wing without the gristle.

Wings continuing to roast until done.

Wings continuing to roast until done.

TIP: Watch out for flareups. The fat coming off the wings will create a fire stream up to the chicken. Keep a beer or glass of water on hand to douse any flare ups. I use propane which is easier to regulate. Charcoal cooking can get away from you if the flame is close to the grill grate. To fix this, place all your coals on one side of the grill. Rotate all the wings through the hot half until you get a nice crust on the wings. Then move them to the side without coals, close the lid, and finish roasting them.  

I mean come on, those are some good looking wings.

I mean come on, those are some good looking wings.

Once they are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for about 2 minutes, mainly to let them cool off. Place in a metal mixing bowl and add butter and either more Dragon's Breath or your favorite wing sauce. 

good times



Tools of the Trade--Tongs

Tongs may not sound all that sexy when it comes to grilling equipment. I mean everyone knows that the grill is the most important part. I would disagree. I can grill on any open flame. However, my ability to manipulate my grillables depends on a sturdy set of tongs. I've seen way too many gourmet grilling sets with tongs that have offset teeth, or are too flexible to provide you any leverage when flipping, say a flank steak or a butterflied leg of lamb. You don't want to depend on tongs that bend easily. My go-to set of tongs are the basic type used in restaurants. 

OXO makes a pretty good tong. A lockable hinge means they take up less space when not in use. Find this one on Amazon.com for $12.95 (12 inch) and $14.95 (16 inch).

OXO makes a pretty good tong. A lockable hinge means they take up less space when not in use. Find this one on Amazon.com for $12.95 (12 inch) and $14.95 (16 inch).

My grill is deep so I mainly use the 16 inch. However, I also have an 8 inch and a 12 inch that I can use if I'm cooking multiple items and don't want to cross-contaminate meats with vegetables. Feel free to shop around. Don't buy one unless you've had a chance to hold it, though. Make sure the weight is right. It shouldn't have teeth that will puncture the meat. Go for the kind with scalloped ends.

Avoid these types:

Don't waste your time buying expensive, gourmet grilling tongs. Simpler is better. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the less effective they will be. However, you should splurge for a nice steel tong, over aluminum.  And watch out for grilling sets. They usually include fancy tongs that don't give you any control. Make sure you see each individual utensil before purchasing a combination set. 

Don't waste your time buying expensive, gourmet grilling tongs. Simpler is better. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the less effective they will be. However, you should splurge for a nice steel tong, over aluminum.  And watch out for grilling sets. They usually include fancy tongs that don't give you any control. Make sure you see each individual utensil before purchasing a combination set. 

Other grilling accessories to have at your grill:

  • Grill brush (To clean the grilling grates before AND after grilling.)
  • Non-stick spray (Be careful when applying directly to a lit grill as the spray will flare up.)
  • Meat thermometer. (Most meats have an ideal temperature. If you can't figure out the cooking time, don't guess. Let the meat's internal temperature be your guide.)
  • Can of beer (When flare ups occur, I'm always ready to douse the flames with a nice light beer.)
  • Apron. (In case of accidents.)
  • Dry, kitchen towel (To keep your hands clean and free of uncooked meat juices.)

See you at the grill!! 

 

Independence Day

Hosting an Easy 4th of July Party

Hosting friends for the 4th of July is as easy as picking the right items to offer. For a large group, pick up a pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They will grill fast on a medium heat. Be careful of hot spots on the grill. I usually rotate all the chicken through the hot spot to give it a good browning, then will move the thighs to a cooler area of the grill to continue to roast under cover. You can serve it with a homemade cole slaw, summer pasta salad, and or chips and vegetables.

An easy upgrade is to make chicken sliders. Serve on some potato rolls with mix greens (you can get already washed and packaged at the grocery store) and some homemade pesto mayonnaise (pesto and mayonnaise mixed to taste). These sliders will be a hit. 

Chicken slow grilled with Eye of Newt, or Dragon's Breath for a spicier taste.

Chicken slow grilled with Eye of Newt, or Dragon's Breath for a spicier taste.

Wings are a staple at tailgates and sporting events. Using the whole wing can help make it more of a meal. Wings are very fatty so you need to be careful of flare-ups (fire that streams up from the burners following a trail of dripping fat). The best way to avoid flare-ups is to move the fattier wings around the grill while the fat renders off. Keep a beer on hand to douse any flare ups.

After each of the wings has a nice brown color on both sides, turn one of the burners on high, the others on low, and move the wings to the lower flame side. If your grill has a second grill shelf, put the wings on the second shelf and let them continue to roast with the cover down. 

Bacon wrapped shrimp dusted with Eye of Newt.

Bacon wrapped shrimp dusted with Eye of Newt.

Impress your friends by prewrapping some medium (23-30 ct.) shrimp (deveined first) with bacon and sliding onto skewers. Cut the bacon into small enough sections to still wrap around the shrimp so it can get skewered in place. The shrimp will cook fast but the bacon will take some time. Keep the bacon-wrapped shrimp on medium heat. Turn often so you don't burn the bacon. Remove a tester from a skewer. Pull when the bacon is ready to eat. The bacon won't be as crisp as breakfast bacon, but it won't take long before it cooks. Just don't walk away from the grill once the shrimp starts to cook. You can go from yummy to bummer in a few seconds of neglect.

Happy grilling and enjoy the 4th!