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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: Grilled Corn and Other Veggie Delights

Jul 13, 2012

Honestly, I have nothing against vegetables. Some of them are good friends of mine, as you'll see in this week's recipes!

Supercharged Grilled Corn on the Cob with Savory Butters

Allow one whole cob per guest

Almost nothing goes better with grilled or barbecued meat than good old corn on the cob, and it’s so easy on the grill. It’s also easy to do a little bit more to give it an extra jolt of buttery flavor.

1 unshucked ear of corn per guest
savory butter or butters
kosher salt

Soak the whole, unshucked corn in cold water for an hour. Prepare your grill for direct high heat. Remove the corn from the water and place it on the grill. Cook it for about half an hour, turning it regularly. Don’t worry if the husks turn brown or black—the corn inside will be protected. Remove it from the grill, let it cool enough that you can handle it, remove the husks, and serve the corn with herbed butter and kosher salt. (If you want a more rustic, charred look and flavor, husk the corn cobs before cooking them, then grill them naked for 10–15 minutes, watching to make sure they char but don’t burn.)

Barbecue Secret
Roasted corn is excellent with plain soft butter and a sprinkling of a simple rub consisting of one part kosher salt and one part ancho chile powder.

Barbecue Secret
If you feel like fussing a little, you can bend the husk back to one end of each cooked corn cob and tie the leaves together with a bit of twine for a handy corn cob holder.

Flavored Butters for all Occasions

Once you’ve made any of these savory butters you’ll always want to keep some in the freezer. Brought to room temperature, they’re incredible on roasted corn on the cob or slathered on cornbread, and a pat of flavored butter on a freshly grilled steak or fish fillet is heavenly. You can even use one of these as a sautéing butter for thinly sliced mushrooms or scrambled eggs, or toss one with some cooked noodles for a quick, easy side.

Mediterranean Butter
4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

4 Tbsp | 50 mL finely chopped combination of fresh dill,
basil, or mint (or any combination of fresh herbs—try chervil,
tarragon, sage, rosemary, etc.)
1 lb | 500 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt to taste

Red Pepper Butter
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and

coarsely chopped
1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp | 5 mL sweet paprika
kosher salt to taste

Garlic Chive Butter
4 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press

(or 8 cloves roasted garlic, squeezed out of their skins)
2 Tbsp | 25 mL finely chopped fresh chives
1/2 lb | 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
kosher salt to taste

Gorgonzola Butter
3/4 cup | 175 mL Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 lb | 125 g unsalted butter at
room temperature
1 tsp | 5 mL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt to taste

Cut the butter into cubes and place them in a food processor. Add the flavoring ingredients and whiz the mixture until it’s thoroughly blended, stopping to scrape down the stuff that sticks to the sides of the food processor as needed. If you’re serving the butter  right away with corn, or on a piece of grilled meat, just place it in a small bowl and serve it.
            If you want to store it, use a spatula to transfer the butter onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap and shape it into a rough cylinder. Fold the wrap around the butter and shape it into an even tube about 11⁄2 inches | 4 cm in diameter. Twist the ends so the tube is sealed and tight, and fasten both ends with a twist-tie. Refrigerate or freeze the butter until you need it. To serve, slice off discs of it. Thaw it a while before dressing steaks or corn with it, or use it still frozen to stuff inside a burger.

Grilled Eggplant with Hazelnut Oil and Marjoram

Although this has a couple of relatively obscure ingredients, it’s dead simple to make, and extremely delicious.

Makes 2 servings as a side, or enough to add to a salad

1 large, firm eggplant (the big round kind)
Toasted hazelnut oil
Sea salt or kosher salt
Crushed chili flakes
Dried marjoram
Olive oil
1 fresh lemon

Prepare your grill for high direct cooking. Peel the eggplant and slice it into ¾ -inch rounds. With a basting bruch, paint it with a coating of hazelnut oil. Sprinkle on both sides with salt, chili flakes and marjoram. Let the slices sit for a few minutes. Place the eggplant slices on the cooking grate, close the grill and immediately turn the heat down to low. Cook for three or four minutes, turn, and cook for another few minutes until the eggplant has nice grill marks and has softened. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.  Also great at room temperature. Serve as a side with grilled Italian sausages.

Grilled Vegetable Platter

Makes 10 to 20 servings, depending what else you’ve got on the grill

There’s almost nothing as boring as a bunch of raw celery, carrots, radishes, and broccoli florets on a plate with a bowl of seasoned yogurt in the middle. Add some excitement to veggies by grilling them and serving them with a couple of interesting dips. The key here is to not overdo the vegetables. Each vegetable cooks a little differently—zucchini and asparagus cook the fastest and raw sweet potatoes take the longest to grill. This recipe is pretty elaborate and is designed for when you’re entertaining. For everyday cooking, just grill one or two kinds of veggies and they’re ready in minutes. For a party, put out this platter as an appetizer, followed by quesadillas and perhaps some kebabs. Grilled veggies are delicious on their own, but go even better with a nice dip, like a flavored mayo (see recipes below). They’re also great tossed into a green salad or served as a side with grilled meat or fish. To add more flavor, before grilling toss them with some dried or fresh chopped herbs like rosemary, oregano, or basil.

20 nugget potatoes, skins on
20 cauliflower florets (about 1 head of cauliflower)
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds 1/2 inch | 1 cm thick
2 red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 green bell peppers, cut lengthwise into 2-inch | 5 cm strips
2 bunches fresh asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off
4 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch | 1 cm slabs
20 whole ripe cherry tomatoes
1 cup | 250 mL extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 fresh lemons, cut into wedges

Bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot of cold water over high heat. Turn down the heat and
simmer them for 10 minutes, adding the cauliflower florets when you have 5 minutes to go. Remove the vegetables from the pot and cool the potatoes and cauliflower in a bowl of cold water. Drain them again and set them aside.
            Preheat your charcoal or gas grill for medium direct heat.
            Put all the vegetables in a large bowl, in batches if necessary, and toss them with the extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper, and herbs, if desired. Grill the vegetables over high direct heat, starting with the sweet potatoes, potatoes, and cauliflower, turning them often. Grill the most tender vegetables last, taking care not to overcook the asparagus, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes (which really only need to be heated through).
            Arrange all the grilled vegetables on a big platter, drizzle them with a little more oil, garnish the platter with lemon wedges, and serve the vegetables immediately. You can also make this an hour or two ahead of time and serve the vegetables at room temperature.

Barbecue Secret
You can grill almost any vegetable, in any quantity, simply by tossing the veggies in olive oil,

sprinkling them with salt, and putting them on a hot grill. The more robust the vegetable, the longer the cooking time. The more you grill, the better you’ll get!

Doctored mayonnaise

I love plain old mayo—in sandwiches, as a dip for french fries, and as a simple dressing for hot or cold veggies. But mix in some extra flavor and you’ve got something that sends your taste buds to new heights. These variations are my favorites, but feel free to create your own.

The technique is simple: Combine good-quality store-bought or homemade mayonnaise with the other ingredients in a food processor and whiz them until they’re smooth, then refrigerate the result. If possible, store it in the refrigerator for a day, or at least a few hours, to let the flavors marry and intensify.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

This invention of Calgary caterer Margie Gibb is particularly good as a dip for pieces of smoked or grilled sausage, but it’s also great on just about anything.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed
out of their skins
1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made
from toasted cumin seeds)
1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

Sesame Mayo

This is the perfect dip for roasted veggies, and it’s also great tossed with rice noodles for a cool, creamy side to grilled Asian-flavored meats. Sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds for extra texture.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp | 2 mL soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp | 5 mL Chinese chili sauce or
spicy Szechuan chili oil (or to taste)
1 tsp | 5 mL grated or finely chopped
fresh lemon, lime, or orange rind
1 to 2 Tbsp | 25 mL toasted sesame seeds (to taste)

Curry Mayo

This is perfect with veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups | 310 mL mayonnaise

2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 tsp | 20 mL curry powder
1 Tbsp | 15 mL vegetable oil
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon juice

Barbecue Mayo

A great “secret sauce” for your homemade burger, french fries, or grilled chicken wings. Cut it with sour cream for a tasty chip dip.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 Tbsp | 15 mL barbecue rub of your choice
1/4 cup | 50 mL barbecue sauce of your choice
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lemon or lime juice

Wasabi Mayo

Excellent on planked fish, or on fried crab cakes, or in a slaw or salad.

Makes about 1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise

1 Tbsp | 15 mL wasabi powder or paste
1 cup | 250 mL mayonnaise
1 tsp | 5 mL lime juice

Roasted Garlic
Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.