Fourth of July presents perfect grilling opportunity

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Classic summer cuisine hits the grill on the Fourth of July.

Just when Americans started rolling out the grills en mass on Independence Day, no one is quite sure. But grilling has become as American as baseball, hotdogs and apple pie.

Most patriotic holidays are accented with meats and mopping sauces, but the Fourth of July tops them all. More people will fire up their grills on Friday than on any other day of the year.

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The most popular meat will be wieners. Tens of thousands of them will be grilled because hotdogs are the favorite kids' meal on the grill. And, the Fourth of July is a fun, family affair.

Hamburgers come in a not-to-distant second. After that, it depends on the geographic location as to which meat is most popular. Along the coast, it's seafood. In the South, folks grill more pork than anywhere else on the map but they also throw their share of steaks on the grill. Mid-Westerners prefer beef. Easterners are more likely to have lamb. And chicken seems to be a national tossup.

But, in recent years, as more people are "eating healthy," vegetables are pushing meats around on the grill and claiming a spot of their own.

So, there will be a big run at the supermarkets this week as shoppers rush out to fill their carts with everything from carrots to chops in anticipation of a grilling star-spangled celebration.

Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Tomato-Pepper Relish


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 medium garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme

Thyme stems and sprigs for the fire (optional)

Fresh Tomato-Pepper Relish

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, 8 Roma tomatoes, or 1 basket cherry tomatoes chopped

1 white onion, minced

1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Ground white pepper to taste

Place the pork chops in one layer in as shallow non-aluminum container. Mix together the marinade ingredients and pour the mixture over the pork chops. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours at room temperature or cover ad marinate for 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator, turning the chops 2 or 3 times during this period. If the chops have been refrigerated, remove them from the refrigerator just before lighting the fire. Light a charcoal fire in a grill with a cover. Place any leftover thyme stems and a few sprigs in water to cover in you want to add them to the fire. While the coals are heating, prepared the relish: In a medium ceramic or glass bowl, combine all the ingredients and let sit at room temperature until the pork chops are ready to serve, stirring the relish once or twice during the period. When the coals are hot, sear the pork chops for 4 minutes on each side. Drain the thyme stems and sprigs, if using and sprinkle them evenly over the hot coals. Baste the pork chops with the marinade, turn, cover the grill and cook the chops for 3 minutes; then baste and turn chops again, cover the grill and cook the chops for another 3 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer into the center of a chop reads 150 degrees. Transfer the chops to a serving plate or individual plates and let set for 5 minutes. Place a serving of relish alongside each chop; garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired, and serve.

Adapted from Meat on the Grill

Barbecued Catfish

4 whole catfish, cleaned and skinned, 1/2 pound each

1 8-ounce favorite bottled tomato barbecue sauce

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine last 4 ingredients and grill whole fish over medium to hot coals for about 5 minutes per side until flesh flakes easily (a grilling basket or screen is handy for turning whole fish). Do not overcook. Baste continually with sauce.

Adapted from Family Features

Memphis Rub

Especially delicious on smoke-cooked ribs and pork shoulders

1/4 cup paprika

1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder.

Combine all ingredients in a jar, twist the lid on airtight. Store away from heat and light or up to 6 months.

Adapted from The Barbecue! Bible

Creole Rub Seasoning

This seasoning lies at the very soul of Creole cooking, Use it to spice up seafood, especially shrimp and crawfish, as well as chicken.

3 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a jar; twist the cap on airtight and shake to mix. Store away from heat and light for up to 6 months.

Adapted from The Barbecue! Bible

Dry Rubbed Porterhouse with Barbecue Steak Sauce

For the rub:

2 teaspoons black pepper corns

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 porterhouse steaks about 2 1/2 pounds each and 1 1/2-inches thick Extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoon steak sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the rub: Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, crush the black peppercorns and mustard seeds. In a small bowl, mix thoroughly with the remaining rub ingredients. Trim the steaks of any access fat. Press the rub into both sides of the steaks and lightly brush or spray with the olive oil. Allow to stand at room temperature or 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. To make the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients with 1/2 cup water. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Sear the steaks over direct high for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through searing time. Continue grilling over indirect medium heat until the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for medium rare, 3 to 5 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time. Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the steaks across the grain into 1/4-inch slices and serve warm with sauce.

Adapted from The Barbecue! Bible

Sizzling T-Bones with Mustard Butter

For the mustard butter:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the paste:

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 teaspoons minced garlic

4 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

4 T-bone steaks, about 1 pound each and 1 inch thick

To make mustard butter: In a small bowl, combine the mustard butter ingredients. Using the back of a fork, mash the ingredients together, distributing them evenly. Scoop the mixture out of the bowl and transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap. Loosely shape the mixture into a long about 1 inch in diameter. Roll the log in the wrap and twist the ends in opposite directions to form and even cylinder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To make the paste: In a small bowl, mix the paste ingredients. Trim the steaks of any excess fat. Spread the paste on both sides of the steaks, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. Allow the steaks to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. Grill over direct high heat until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees for medium rare, 8 to 12 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time. Remove the steaks from the grill and allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Unwrap the cylinder of butter and slice crosswise into 1/3-inch coins. Serve the steaks warm with a slice of butter on top.

Adapted from Meat on the Grill

Grilled Garlic Bread Fingers

1 loaf French bread

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or melted unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high. Cut the loaf crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Then cut each piece lengthwise into 4 equal pieces to make 16 fingers, each 5 to 6 inches long. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, lemon zest and parsley and simmer until the garlic just begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic oil from the heat and season with salt and pepper. When ready to cook, generously brush the bread fingers all over with the garlic oil. Starting crust side down, arrange the fingers on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until nicely browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Don't take you eyes off the grill for a second, grilled bread burns very easily. Transfer to a breadbasket and serve immediately.

Adapted from The Barbecue Bible

Root Vegetables

Metal skewers are a must for root vegetables. Because the metal heats through and cooks the inside of the vegetables while the outside is seared by the coals, cooking times are shortened. Peel those vegetables that have tough or fibrous skins. Since into 1-inch pieces. Skewer each variety of vegetable separately for even cooking. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Grill on an open or closed grill over medium-hot coals until the vegetables begin browning and are tender when pierced with a skewer. Most root vegetables will cook in about 20 minutes.

Adapted from Vegetables on the Grill

Mustard Greens Sauce

This tangy sauce made from mustard greens is the perfect accompaniment to grilled root vegetables.

1 bunch mustard greens

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

1 heaping teaspoon grainy mustard

1 heaping teaspoon dried tarragon

Salt and black pepper to taste

Wash the mustard greens well. Chop coarsely and set aside. Melt the butter in a stainless steel skilled. Cook the shallots over a medium heat until they begin softening, about 5 minutes. Add the sherry and chopped mustard greens and cook until the greens are wilted and tender, another 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor. Over medium heat, combine the cream, mustard and tarragon and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low for 15 minutes to thicken cream. Add the pureed mustard greens, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Adapted from Vegetables on the Grill

Skewered Artichoke Hearts and Cherry Tomatoes

40 cooked artichoke heart pieces

20 cherry tomatoes

Thread onto each skewer an artichoke heart and another artichoke heart. On an open or closed grill cook over red-hot to medium hot coals for 10 minutes, turning to cook all sides until brown.

Adapted from Vegetables on the Grill

Gralicky Portobello Mushrooms

Portobellos have an open cap, so the indicators of freshness are an even color and a dry, firm feel. Use them within a day or so of purchase, as they perish quickly. Store them in a single layer, if possible, loosely covered with a damp paper towel. Do not enclose them in a plastic bag. Wash them only just before using them and avoid running too much water on the spongy undersides. Carefully pat them dry with paper towels.

3 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

8 to 12 large fresh Portobello mushrooms, washed and stems removed

Melt the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pepper together in a small saucepan (you can do this on the grill. Slice any mushrooms more than 3 inches in diameter into strips. Brush the mushrooms generously with the butter baste. On a covered grill over medium-hot coals, grill the mushrooms undersides down for about 8 minutes turn and grill the tops for 8 more minutes. The mushrooms should be very tender with pierced with a skewer and very well browned.

Adapted from Vegetables on the Grill