One of my favorite days of the year to cook is Father’s Day. Whether it’s at the park, beach, or backyard, a big family barbecue is an all-day activity that everyone can enjoy! I like to set up water activities and games for the kids, cold beverages for the dads, and a hot grill for myself. Here are a few tips on hosting a fun family cookout:
Invest in a grill basket for cooking veggies. Avoid loosing all that produce into the grill by purchasing a metal basket that is made for vegetables. You will be surprised how many vegetables taste great on the grill. You’ve heard of grilled peppers and onions, but have you tried grilled green bean or potato slices?
It’s garlic scape time! During just a few weeks in late spring and early summer, the tops of garlic plants produce garlic scapes. These trimmings off the garlic plant are widely available at green markets and produce retailers during their brief season. They taste like garlic, just sweeter, juicier, and less pungent. They are amazing on the grill, finished with some good sea salt, a squeeze of lemon, and a drizzle of high-quality olive oil.
Keep the kids occupied with a healthy snack. Grilling for a crowd takes time. Kids usually get hungry and antsy before dinner is done. I like to keep them fed with some hot, fresh quesadillas. I always pack corn tortillas and our favorite cheese when cooking out. In between veggies and proteins on the grill, I sneak on a few quesadillas for the kids. This way they get a substantial snack to hold them over until dinner.
Try grilling a whole fish. Though it may seem intimidating, grilling the whole fish is not so hard, once you’ve given it a try. The grill must be very hot and well oiled. Place some thin slices of lemon, herb sprigs, and salt and pepper inside the cavity of the fish (trout, sea bass, snapper, and sea bream all work well for this). Rub the skin of the fish with oil, salt, and pepper. Grill, without moving it, for about five to 12 minutes per side, depending on the size of the fish and the heat of the grill. The fish is done when you put the tip of a paring knife into the thickest part, near the top of the head, and leave it there for a few seconds. If the tip meets no resistance when piercing the flesh and comes out still hot, the fish is cooked through. Allow the fish to rest for a bit, then serve. Make sure to have a butter knife, spoon, and extra bowl when serving the fish so you are able to fillet it at the table.
Use a rub on your steak instead of a marinade. Dry rubs can help make your grilled meats tender, juicy, and flavorful! I like to use skirt steak with my favorite rub (recipe follows). Skirt steak can be sliced thin and goes really well with warm corn tortillas!
Joanna DeVita is executive chef at Léman Manhattan Preparatory School. She is the mother of two children and loves nothing more than spending time with them outdoors and sharing with them her love and respect for nature, good ingredients, and the joy of cooking.
DRY RUB INGREDIENTS:
3 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 tbs smoked paprika
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
DIRECTIONS: Mix all dry rub ingredients together in bowl. Rub three pounds of trimmed skirt steak with enough of the dry rub to coat well. (Save the rest of the rub for another use.) Let the meat marinate overnight in the fridge in an airtight container.
Preheat grill to medium high. Allow the meat to sit outside the refrigerator for about an hour before grilling to take the chill off.
Make sure the grill is well oiled. Grill the skirt steak on medium high for about 7-12 minutes on each side, depending on how rare you like your steak. After removing it from the grill, allow meat to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Cut steak against the grain with a sharp knife into thin slices. Sprinkle sliced steak with flaky sea salt and a squeeze of lime.