Summer sizzlin’

Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial start of summer.
Random not-so-nice weather aside, this weekend also normally includes plans to barbecue. There’s nothing like grilled meat in the late hours of the day. Long summer evenings are only made better by sausages or trip tip fresh off the grill. But none of those things would be as tasty without the amazing sides and fixings, right? That’s the focus today.

Grilling your favorite meat is like a family tradition. There’s no need to mess with a that always pleases a crowd. It’s easier to experiment with what you’re serving with your family’s traditional main course.

The interesting part about barbecuing is no one quite knows who coined the term. There is lots of evidence that both the word and technique originated in the Caribbean. The word barbecue is traced back to 1697 in English by the Oxford English Dictionary. Since then, the practice and the word have taken on many forms that are different given any region. Even across the United States there are differences. One home might make things with a crisp taste aided by olive oil while another enjoys marinated meats that take hours or days of soaking before ready to grill.
Sometimes a burger or a piece of juicy grilled chicken only tastes right when served with pasta salad.
What’s your favorite grilling side? Fruit is an amazing addition to any barbecue. It can be grilled or served with a little touch of honey. That’s today’s focus, those special touches that make a barbecue that thing you crave when the temperature rises and children are out of school. Plus, it’s a little safer to work with little ones away from an open flame.

Berry and melon salad with honey tarragon dressing
This is best made the day of the picnic, as the colors will bleed if it sits too long. However, you can cut up the melon and the strawberries in advance, to save time.

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 6-ounce containers raspberries, rinsed
1/2 small honeydew or cantaloupe melon, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup honey
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tsp. lime zest
2 Tbsp. chopped tarragon

Put fruit into a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the honey, lime juice and zest, and chopped tarragon. Pour over fruit, and toss gently to combine.

Grilled potatoes with green goddess dressing
This is a great make-ahead recipe – the dressing can sit in the fridge for up to five days, and the potatoes need to be par-cooked the day before you’re ready to grill, so all that’s left the day of is to season the potatoes and grill them for 8-10 minutes.

The dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. champagne or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 anchovies
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup packed tarragon leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
The potatoes:
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 5 large)
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the dressing:

1. Puree the mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, anchovies, green onions and herbs in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or in a blender, until it is mostly smooth and green with flecks of herbs throughout. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside or refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the potatoes:
1. The day before serving, place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1-2 inches. Season the water with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook until potatoes can be pierced with a knife but still hold their shape, about 45-50 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water. Let cool slightly, then peel and slice potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet in one flat layer and refrigerate overnight.
2. About 30 minutes before cooking, preheat a grill until it reads about 425 degrees on a thermometer. Spray the grate with non-stick cooking spray, and set over the heat. Meanwhile, mix the garlic with the olive oil, and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the fridge, brush with the garlic oil and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
3. Place on the grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until the bottom edges turn golden and crisp. Flip carefully and cook another 3-4 minutes.
4. Serve immediately with the dressing on the side for dipping.

Homemade Ketchup
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. chile flakes
1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. mustard seeds
4 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks or two 14.5-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1. Heat oil over medium in a large saucepan. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, cloves, allspice, chile flakes, ancho chile powder and mustard seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes, until aromatic.
2. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a light simmer and cook 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.
3. Remove from heat and blend or process until smooth. Press through a fine strainer into a clean saucepan, pressing on the solids hard to push as much through as possible.
4. Cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes until thick, stirring to keep it from sticking. Cool before serving.
5. Variation: You can add any of the following spices for a different flavor: 2 tsp. curry powder, 1 Tbsp. minced ginger, a half head of roasted garlic, or 1 Tbsp. harissa.


Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

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