Executive Chef Keri Winne of Ferndale’s Western Market shares how to grill a delicious barbecue meal — including dessert!
By Keri Winne
Once the warm weather hits, I prefer to cook anything that doesn’t require boiling a pot on the stove or warming up the oven. Here in Southeastern Michigan, we spend much more time outside during the summer — so why not cook outside, too?
At my home, we try to grill as much as possible during the summer months, especially on the weekends. Everyone seems to have a favorite food to grill, too. For me, it’s as simple as grilled chicken. There’s just something about the way it tastes when you prepare it on the grill. It’s so versatile. Grilled chicken leftovers can be added to pasta later in the week. Marinate it ahead of time with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic, course sea salt and pepper. You can also add fresh herbs from your garden.
It’s not necessary to limit yourself to the usual suspects when grilling, either. You don’t always have to think steak or kebabs. Try grilling a meatless Beyond Burger. Toss some vegetables, fruits even breads onto your grill. At my home, we grill Naan bread and use it for tacos, sandwiches and pizzas.
If you’ve never tried, but always wondered, I am here to tell you that it is possible to grill dessert! If you have bananas at home, slice them right down the middle of the peel and stuff the banana full of chocolate chips, berries or marshmallows – whatever you enjoy. Then toss the stuffed banana, still in its peel, right on the grill. You’ll end up with an easy, ooey and gooey dessert.
If you’re set to begin grilling something new, you’re just in time for the 4th of July holiday. It’s the perfect time for a barbecue. Here are four tips to keep in mind:
1. Stock up on supplies. Make sure you are stocked up with charcoal. It doesn’t matter which type you prefer – there are all-natural wood briquettes and brands like Kingsford that offer easy-to-light charcoal. Invest in a grill lighter to start up your coals, and you won’t have to twist up newspaper to get those flames going.
2. Buy tools you can use and reuse. There are a few kitchen tools that are invaluable at the grill. Invest in a set of long tongs to place and flip meats and vegetables. Make sure you have a grill brush handy for that post-grill cleaning, or use a wet towel. A silicon basting brush makes it easy to add marinade while you grill. A thermometer is handy to check the temperature of meats as you grill. You might have helpful items at home. You can peel the labels off of aluminum cans, and place them on your grill to create levels and cook multiple items. Place a cedar plank on top of the can and cook your salmon on indirect heat while veggies grill directly on the grate.
3. Prep before grilling. Don’t skip a step or forget to marinate the meats, fish and vegetables you plan to grill. Marinate what you plan to cook a few hours or at least 20 minutes before they hit the grill. Keep some extra marinade nearby so you can baste the foods you’re grilling, adding moisture and flavor. Fresh lemon or orange juice or apple cider will work just fine, or try an oil and vinegar blend. Black pepper will also ensure you don’t dry out the meats you plan to grill.
4. Invest in a new grill gadget. You may want to stick to the basics – and that works just fine. But if you love to grill, I’ve got an eye on a few new gadgets that will make it even easier this summer. The first is a heat-resistant glove. It’s not as bulky as an oven mitt and will protect you from the heat when you use tongs. These gloves make it possible to pick up a hot grate safely, too. The second is a set of claws meant for shredding meat. When I participated in barbecue competitions, we devised a way to add a propeller to a drill – and it would quickly shred pulled pork. These shredding claws are meant to do the same thing (and are a much friendlier option for home grilling). They look almost like a set of brass knuckles with wolverine claws on them. It’s the most animalistic way I can imagine to pull apart meat. Why not try it?
Remember – grilling isn’t just for men. If you’ve never fired up a grill and made the most of summer cooking, this is the time to try it. There is no need to hesitate or feel intimidated. I want women to be just as excited to cook on the grill as men seem to be.
Go out there and show us what you’ve got on the grill. What do you plan to make this summer?
Meatless Burgers with Grilled Leeks and Roasted Tomatoes
Recipe courtesy of Western Market
4 meatless burger patties (Beyond burgers work well)
2 cups vegetable oil
1 pint sweet oven roasted tomatoes (recipe follows)
1 head bib lettuce
4 slices of Boar’s Head Chipotle Gouda
1 cup avocado aioli (recipe follows)
Sweet Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig thyme
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon salt and pepper
Preheat oven 250 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half and place in bowl. Add oil, thyme, whole garlic cloves, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix together and lay out evenly on a lined sheet tray. Slowly roast in the oven for 2 hours.
2 ripe avocados
½ cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Remove green leaves from the leeks, and slice white part of leeks into long strips. Toss in olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill 1 minute each side.
Season Beyond burger patties with salt and pepper. Place on a hot grill. Cook burger 2-3 minutes on each side.
Prepare the aioli and smear on the bottom bun. Assemble burger, cheese, leeks, tomatoes, lettuce and enjoy.
Keri Winne is executive chef and assistant store manager at Ferndale’s Western Market. She perfected her culinary art skills at Schoolcraft College and has worked at restaurants including Bacco Ristorante. Winne has an appreciation for quality and care in the food and beverage industry. She is a married and mother to two boys — and you’ll find her at Western Market or grilling at home this summer in Oak Park.