For this month's Iron Chef edition, I'm focusing on not one ingredient but rather one tool: the grill!
Last weekend, we bought our first corn on the cob of the season and also threw on asparagus fresh from my parents' garden.
Inspired by that excellent Iron Chef himself, Bobby Flay, here are a variety of dishes we've either tackled ourselves or look forward to trying out someday.
First up, a recipe I featured on the blog last year - an allrecipes find (of course, what else do I ever feature??), we loved how it combined pork, peaches and peppers for a colorful and delicious kebab.
Honey Pork Tenderloin Kebabs
Serves 8 (2 kebabs each)
1/2 cup bourbon (bourbon is optional; you can substitute 2 tablespoons cider vinegar)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mustard
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into one-inch cubes
4 medium ripe unpeeled peaches, pitted and sliced
4 green peppers, cut into pieces
2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into one-inch slices
4 yellow onions, cut into pieces
Olive oil for grilling
3 cups white rice
Mix first four ingredients in a bowl; stir well and set most of the glaze aside. Toss the pork cubes in the rest of the glaze while dicing the vegetables. Thread pork cubes, peach slices, green pepper pieces, zucchini slices and onion pieces alternately as desired onto each 10-inch skewer. Brush kebabs with honey glaze mixture. Lightly oil grill. Grill over medium-hot heat 5 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with glaze. Serve over white rice.
Feel free to mix and match alternative vegetables: sweet potatoes boiled and diced, mushrooms, red and yellow pepper, etc. Comments on allrecipes.com also mentioned marinating the pork overnight in the glaze mixture to really capture the flavor.
We tried this recipe just today as we hosted an almost-impromptu Memorial Day cookout for a few friends:
Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro
3 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Parcook the potatoes: Place in a pot of water and boil until fork-tender; let cool. Slice each potato lengthwise into eighths.
Preheat a grill to medium or place a cast-iron grill pan over medium heat. Mix 1 tablespoon salt, the lime zest and cayenne in a small bowl.
Brush the potato wedges with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on all sides (including the skin) and just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter; immediately season with the salt mixture and sprinkle with cilantro.
Bob caught this next recipe on an episode of Grill It with Bobby Flay and has been hoping to find the right time to make it himself.
Fire Roasted Snapper Wrapped in Green Corn Husks with Charred Corn-Charred Jalapeno Salsa, and Jalapeno Pesto
6 ears corn
8 jalapeno chiles
Canola oil for brushing, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 limes, juiced
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
Cilantro, to taste
4 red snapper fillets, 8-ounces each
4 limes, halved
String for tying fish
Corn Milk and Jalapeno Pesto Sauce, recipe follows
Remove the very outer husks from the corn. You will need 8 for wrapping the fish. Soak the husks for about 30 minutes. Peel back the inner husks, remove the silks, and close the husks around the ears, and soak for 30 minutes. Heat the grill to high. Grill the corn until the kernels are golden brown and slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Remove the kernels from the corn and place in a bowl. Save the cobs for the pesto, recipe below.
Brush the jalapenos with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until charred all over, about 6 minutes. Dice chiles, including skin and seeds, and add 2 peppers worth to the corn with the onion, lime juice, honey, 2 tablespoons canola oil, cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Save the remaining jalapeno for the pesto
Remove the corn husks from the water and pat dry. Brush the snapper on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 husks flat on a work surface with the tapered ends facing out and the broad bases overlapping by about 3-inches. Place 1 fillet in the center and bring the longs sides up over the fish, slightly overlapping and pat down to close. Tie each end of the bundle with string and trim the ends to about 1/2-inch beyond the tie. Brush the bundles on both sides with oil and place on the grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the fish is just cooked through.
Brush cut side of limes with some canola oil, place on the grill, cut side down and grill until slightly charred, about 1 minute. Serve alongside the fish.
Corn Milk and Jalapeno Pesto Sauce:
1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves
6 grilled jalapenos, from recipe above
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Corn cobs, from recipe above
Combine cilantro, grilled and diced jalapenos, garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and process until emulsified. Scrape into a bowl.
Scrape milk and any remaining kernels from grilled corn by standing cobs in bowl and running a knife blade down the cob. Stir the milk and scrapings into the pesto and serve.
The next recipe is our dessert - grilled pineapple, fruit of any kind on the grill really, just sounds decadent in itself, doesn't it? Add the word "dulce de leche" to the recipe name and you are in heaven. photo source
Grilled Pineapple with Kahlua Dulce de Leche
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Kahlua
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 ripe pineapple, preferably golden
Vanilla ice cream, as needed
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover with foil. Put pie plate in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to pan to reach halfway up side of pie plate. Bake milk in middle of oven until thick and golden, about 1 1/2 hours.
Carefully remove pie plate from pan and cool completely. Add rum and vanilla to milk, whisk until smooth, and season with salt. (The dulce de leche may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.) Prepare a grill or grill pan. Cut the pineapple lengthwise through leaves, keeping leaves attached, into 4 wedges. Grill the pineapple wedges, cut-side down, until just charred, about 2 minutes on each cut side. Divide the wedges among plates, put a scoop of ice cream next to each, and drizzle with the dulce de leche.
So, what have you been grilling on this 3 day weekend?
Check out past posts Iron Chef: Apples and Iron Chef: Potatoes for more recipe action.