Monday, July 2, 2012

Taming the Flame: Grilled Cocktails

It is almost the Fourth of the July, and that can only mean one thing — time to man the grill!  A true bon vivant can light a stack of briquettes and flip a burger the same way he commands the boardroom, with ease. And while I will leave the choice of charcoal vs. gas to you (for me, the flavor of lump coal can’t be beat and, after all, isn’t that the entire point of grilling?), a few simple techniques will make you the master of the flame.

      - For meat, skip the marinades. A generous dry rub of pepper, sea salt, and sugar (which caramelizes when heated) brings out the flavors of the meat.

      -  Marinades are, however, great with chicken. But the simplest ones, such as Italian dressing or fresh lime juice, are best.  In order to ensure the marinade doesn’t burn off on the grill, use a fork to pierce the chicken in a few places before marinating.

-    - To get professional-looking grill marks, put the meat on a hot grill at a 45 degree angle.  After 3 minutes, turn the meat 90 degrees (but don’t flip the meat over), and continue grilling.  Flip the meat and repeat. 

-    - Cook burgers, boneless chicken breasts, and steaks under a ½-inch thick directly on the flame.  For anything thicker and whole chickens, use indirect heat (where the flame is on one side of the grill and your meat is on the other) with the lid closed.  This will ensure that the inside and outside of the meat cooks at the same temperature (otherwise, the inside may be medium-rare and the outside well done).

-    - After grilling, let the meat sit covered with foil (to keep in the heat) for 3 minutes to allow the natural juices to redistribute.

-    - Use a grill basket for vegetables to allow them to heat evenly and not fall through the grate.

-    - Watch your food while grilling.  Remember, you can always put it back on the flame to cook more, but you can never undo an overcooked piece.

But if you really want to impress your guests, grill them a cocktail.  Fire adds a great smoky flavor to your meat and chicken, so why not get that same delicious flavor in your drinks?  Try some of these soon-to-be summer classics:

Grilled Lemonade

16 lemons
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of honey
2 rosemary sprigs
1 cup Four Roses Bourbon

1. Cut the lemons in half, and dip the cut half in the sugar. Set aside in a tray to be grilled.
2. Combine water, sugar, and honey in a saucepan or disposable aluminum foil tray. Add in a couple of rosemary sprigs.
3. Grill the lemons cut-side down until nice grill marks appear (about 5-7 minutes). Remove the lemons, and set aside to cool.
4. While grilling the lemons, place the saucepan with the honey, water, and sugar mix on the grill. Heat until the sugar and honey are fully dissolved and it becomes a syrup and the desired amount of rosemary flavor has been infused into the syrup.
6. When the lemons are cooled, squeeze the juice into a pitcher. Add syrup and water to taste, pour in the bourbon, and add ice. Stir well and serve.

Grilled-Pineapple Crush

3 wedges fresh pineapple
2 dashes pure vanilla extract
¾ ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 oz. Bacardi or Denizen white rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Grill the pineapple wedges to achieve grill marks.
2. In a glass, muddle 2 wedges of the grilled pineapple with the vanilla bean and simple syrup. Pour the rum and lime juice into a shaker. Add ice and shake. Double-strain into a cocktail glass.
3. Dust the remaining pineapple wedge with black pepper and use to garnish the drink.

Smokey Southern Sangria

6 oranges
4 lemons
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups water
6 chipotle peppers, coarsely chopped
6 oz. Maker’s 46 Bourbon
12 oz. Red (not white) Zinfandel
12 oz. soda water

1. Cut lemons and oranges in half and grill.
2. After the fruit is cooled, squeeze them until you get 4 oz. of smoked orange juice and 2 oz. of smoked lemon juice.
3. Combine brown sugar and water in a medium pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Add chipotle peppers, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
4. Combine the Bourbon, zinfandel, 4 oz. smoked orange juice, 2 oz. smoked lemon juice and 3 oz. brown sugar-chipotle syrup in a pitcher and shake well over ice.
5. Add more ice until pitcher is full. Add soda water, stir, and serve.
6. Garnish with the remaining slices of smoked oranges and lemons.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen . . . and on to your grill.  Happy 4th!

No comments:

Post a Comment