Happy Memorial Day! Happy official start of summer! A lot of things will be different this year, but we will still have warm weather, and many of us will still have barbecues in the yard, even if there are only one or two people hovering around the grill instead of a crowd of guests. As always, The Takeout is here to help guide you through all your home cooking endeavors, whether they take place indoors or outdoors. Here are some of our best grilling tips and recipes to get your summer started off right.
It’s a holiday, so even though the price of beef may be soaring through the roof, maybe it’s time to splurge on a steak, or dig through the freezer to unearth the ribeye you stashed there before the whole world went haywire. (Who knows what other hidden treasures you might find?) A steak, naturally, is too precious to treat carelessly. Fortunately, Rob Levitt, owner of the Chicago butcher shop The Butcher & Larder (and no relation to associate editor Aimee Levitt), shared his foolproof method to producing a beautifully cooked steak. It works like a charm.
Spatchcocking a chicken—splitting it open and laying it flat on the grill—will allow you to cook the chicken evenly and achieve as much crispy skin as possible. Grilled chicken is much less likely to dry out if it’s brined or marinated, so this recipe riffs on the classic Southern buttermilk brine by swapping in coconut milk and lending the chicken some other Hawaiian flavors, like soy sauce and ginger. Serve the whole thing on a bed of schmaltzy scallions for a dinner that’s oh-my-god good. Get the recipe for Spatchcocked Hawaiian Grilled Chicken here.
No meat thermometer? No worries! Gwen Ihnat canvassed several chefs and grilling experts to find out their preferred method for determining the doneness of a piece of meat so you don’t overcook it beyond repair. It’s all about the squishiness—and these various squishiness-measuring methods might even become a fun family game.
Last year, former Takeout editor Kevin Pang decided he was so over burgers, chicken, and steaks. He wanted to explore new grilling horizons. And so, with the aid of Chef Erling Wu-Bower of Chicago’s Pacific Standard Time, he learned how to cook a whole fish on his backyard Weber grill. Yes, it was scary, but he persevered, and you can, too.
Don’t forget sausages! Kevin Pang decided he would try a new cooking experiment by grilling up a kielbasa Hasselback-style—that is, slicing it nearly all the way through, covering it with garlic butter that settled into all the slits, and grilling it to crispy perfection. Coincidentally, The New York Times had the exact same idea and the exact same time, which just goes to show that new ideas can originate in separate places simultaneously.
Now onward to side dishes! Baked beans are an undisputed backyard barbecue classic, even if they aren’t cooked on the grill. This recipe for Husky Rural Baked Beans, which Takeout contributor Nick Leggin adapted from his grandmother’s, is the equivalent of Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” at a wedding: no gathering is complete without it.
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At this point, you might be overwhelmed by all this meat and brown food and yearning for a fresh vegetable. How about a nice salad? But since you’ve already got the grill going, use that to your advantage: grill your romaine lettuce before you add any other vegetables and homemade dressing. You’ll be glad you did.
And, finally, some chefs, cookbook authors, and Takeout writers and commenters offer more suggestions for other things you can cook on your grill besides meat. Fruit! Salsa! Pizza! The only limit to what your grill can do is your imagination (and the amount of charcoal or propane you remembered to stock up on). Grilling season has just begun. Now is your time.