Grilling Greek

Chicken Skewers

March 25th marks Independence Day in Greece, where communities come together and host a variety of gatherings to celebrate. The festivities are centered on a common denominator: food.

We chose to honor Greek culture through the beautiful, bright and delicious fare that is Greek cuisine. We encourage you to explore the realm of all things Greek and incorporate their classic yet zesty food combinations. Bogged down with the same old mundane flavors? Exploring Mediterranean-inspired cuisine invites the opportunity to engage your taste buds in a fresh, new way.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, these chicken skewers are an ode to traditional Souvlaki and capture the distinct and aromatic flavors of Greek cuisine that you’re sure to love.

Chicken Skewers with Lemon-Garlic Marinade & Tzatziki Sauce
Ingredients:
Chicken Skewers

  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into slices
  • Additional vegetable oil for preparing the grill grates

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/2 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Directions

  • To make marinade, combine lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, salt and garlic in a shallow bowl and mix.
  • Then add chicken and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Allow chicken to marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Fill your grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
  • While your coals are getting hot, remove chicken from bag and discard marinade.
  • Alternate pieces of chicken and zucchini and thread onto skewers.
  • Place skewers on the grill and cook 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning once.
  • To prepare tzatziki sauce, peel cut and shred cucumber and combine with yogurt, lemon juice, salt and garlic, stirring well.
  • Place skewers on dish to serve with tzatziki sauce on the side and enjoy!

 

This next Greek-inspired salad combines fresh vegetables with a light and tangy sauce and pairs perfectly with grilled chicken or steak.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta

Ingredients

  • 1 medium orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil

Directions

  • Thinly slice the basil and cut the grape tomatoes in half, setting both aside until later.
  • Remove stem and seeds from orange bell pepper and slice lengthwise into 4 or 5 pieces.
  • Cut red onion into 1/4 inch slices, and cut both the zucchini and the squash lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
  • Using a brush, coat both sides of the vegetables with olive oil and eason with salt
  • Depending on the size of your grill, you may want to cook vegetables in batches
  • Place vegetables on grill and allow to cook until just tender and charred, flipping once while cooking. This should take approximately 10 minutes for the bell pepper and 6 minutes for the onion, zucchini and squash
  • Allow the vegetables to cool and then dice them into 1/2 inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl
  • In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar and 1/4 tablespoon of salt and pepper
  • Combine dressing with vegetables in large bowl
  • Gently stir tomatoes into salad, sprinkle with feta and basil, and season with salt and pepper, if desired
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    A Spring Fling with Fresh Fruit

    When possible, we like using in-season fruits and vegetables in our recipes. We find that it encourages us to get creative and not rely on our usual go-to recipes. Like other seasons, spring offers us a long list of delicious new grilling opportunities.

    If you do your research, you can experiment with exotic and new fruits to create flavor combinations to surprise your palate. The fresh blooms and budding trees inspired us to hit the local farmer’s market for some fresh fruit to grill up. In search of the not-so-normal, we selected a few low-profile fruits to show some sweet, smoky, lovin’ to. Let us know what you think!

    What’s your favorite fruit to grill and what fruit are you most excited to try on the grill this year? Share your favorite recipe and you could be featured on The Roundup.

    The persimmon is a slightly firm, orange fruit with smooth skin. The fruit slightly resembles a tomato, though only in appearance. Found on trees, the persimmon incredibly delicious when perfectly ripe, but extremely bitter and waxy if harvested too soon.  For this recipe, you’ll want to select semi-soft, Asian persimmon.

    Honey-Balsamic Persimmons with Brie
    Ingredients

    • 3-4 Asian persimmons
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 tablespoon high-quality balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 wedge, rind on brie cheese
    • Wafer crackers, we recommend Waterthins or a similar cracker

    Directions

    • To prepare persimmons, gently wash the skins and pat dry.
    • Then remove the leaves (similarly to how you’d remove the cap on a strawberry).
    • Slice the persimmons into wedges (similarly you’d slice an apple, except persimmons have no core that needs to be removed) and set aside.
    • In a medium sized bowl, combine honey, balsamic, vanilla, cayenne and cinnamon and mix well.
    • Using a basting brush, coat both sides of each persimmon wedge with the mixture and let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
    • Fill your grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
    • Once coals are ashed over, place persimmon wedges on the grill, cooking until a light brown, caramel crust appears on both sides of the fruit (flipping once per slice).
    • Remove from grill and place on a large serving plate.
    • Remove Brie from fridge and slice to fit on top of the wafer crackers.
    • Place the slice of cheese on the cracker then top with the grilled persimmon or you can allow guests to stack their own.
    • This tasty appetizer is really tasty paired with a crisp glass of champagne – the perfect beginning or end to a spring gathering.

     

    This bright, refreshing salsa has a kick, but it’s perfect over a fresh piece of halibut, as a topping for shrimp tacos or served simply with tortilla chips.
    Smoky Spring Salsa
    Ingredients

    • 1 honeydew melon
    • 1 mango
    • 1 pineapple
    • 1 avocado, diced
    • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
    • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
    • 2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
    • 1 lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon lime zest
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped (add more for extra heat)

    Directions

    • Prepare grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
    • Be sure grill grates are clean and well oiled to prevent sticking.
    • While the coals are heating up, slice the mango in half horizontally, remove skin and cut into 1/2″ thick wedges.
    • Prepare the pineapple by removing the outer skin and core. Then slice into 1/2″ thick wedges.
    • Slice the honeydew in half. Then remove seeds, innards and rind and cut into 1/2″ thick wedges.
    • Once coals are ashed over, place the fruit slices on the grill, turning and rotating them after a few minutes. (Depending on the size of your grill, you might have to grill the fruit in batches.)
    • Once grill marks appear on all sides, remove the fruit from grill and allow to cool.
    • Dice up your cooled fruit and put it in a large mixing bowl.
    • Add in the avocado, onion, salt and pepper, lime juice and zest, cilantro, red pepper flakes and jalapeño.
    • Combine using tongs until well mixed.
    • This smoky, seasonal salsa is the perfect dish for spring. Enjoy!
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      Get Ready for Spring Grilling

      With spring grilling right around the corner, there’s no time like the present to invest some energy and elbow grease into getting your grill ready for prime time. Just like a car, doing some maintenance will ensure it’s working properly and it will also increase the lifespan of your grill. We recommend starting with our yearly checklist which can be found here.

      Once you’ve cleaned your grill properly and replenished your supply of Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal, it’s time to consider what grilling tools you might need to add or replace in your collection this year. If you’re considering lighter fare options like fish or veggies, a grill rack might be a good purchase for this grilling season. Or maybe it’s time to retire those worn out tongs for a new set.

      If you need a little inspiration, here are a few of our newest and most favorite investments for the year.

      Sleeve

      Tech Protect: We’re always using an iPad out by the grill, either to snap photos of our masterpieces or to reference recipes. After the BBQ sauce incident of 2014 however, we’re looking to protect our tech gear when we bring it grill side. The folks at The Orange Chef have created a simple, affordable and most importantly effective solution. The Chef Sleeve, a simple, plastic sleeve that protects your iPad while you grill. We also love their cutting board with a slot especially for propping up your iPad, check it out.

      Kebob

      Skip the Splinters: If kebabs are a go-to grill item for you, do yourself a favor and invest in Williams-Sonoma’s Fire Wire Flexible Grilling Skewers. These flexible, nonreactive stainless steel skewers will have you thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Your kebab possibilities will be multiplied and the process made simpler.

       

      DIY BBQ Station

      A Little DIY: We’re always looking for the best ways to store our grilling tools to keep them clean and well organized. To make it fully customized, we suggest a fairly painless DIY project. Using some paint, 2x4s and trellising, you can create the ultimate griller’s rack. We like this example from Martha Stewart best, for it’s aesthetics and functionality. For the hanging containers, shelving and racks, we went to our local IKEA and picked up a variety of sizes and containers to create a unique look that was most useful for our needs.

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        A Look at Irish BBQ

        03.13.15_IBA Logo

        We recently shared our recipe for Drunken BBQ Sauce and Grilled Bangers, playing with our favorite Irish flavors to create a Cowboy version of traditional Irish foods.

        Because Irish-American Heritage month which is celebrated in March and St. Patrick’s Day are so rich in tradition, history and flavor, we wanted to see what the Irish had up their sleeves in the way of modern barbecue. As it turns out, Ireland has quite the ‘que crew – The Irish Barbecue Association, which started out as the competition team The Wild Geese, was created by a group of Limerick-based, BBQ competitors who have traveled the globe collecting medals for their incredible barbecue.

        IBA celebrates competition BBQ in the spirit of Irish culture and flavors, and their recipe for Maple Ribs & Chicken, which they note as the perfect recipe for a sunny day, sounds like a great way to kick-off spring grilling, and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the same time. We’d suggest a minor tweak by adding crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce, and grilling up some sweet onions to serve alongside for the perfect meal!

        The IBA also shares a terrific technique on their website for basting with apple cider which inspired us to adapt the Wild Geese Cider Marinade for the Roundup. Enjoy and cheers!

        Spiked Cider Marinade

        Combine all of the below ingredients into a glass dish or resealable plastic bag. We’d suggest marinating fish and shrimp for about 45 minutes to an hour, but chicken and pork will require a lengthier soak of about 4 hours minimum.

        Ingredients

        • 3 cups of a dry, hard apple cider of your choosing
        • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
        • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
        • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
        • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
        • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
        • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
        • Salt and pepper to taste
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          The Luck of the Irish

          March is a wonderful time of year. Everything starts thawing out, flowers begin to bloom, birds begin to chirp and we gear up for spring grilling which is a much welcomed change after smoking and grilling in our cold weather gear for the last few months.

          The month of March also brings about celebrations of Irish heritage and Saint Patrick’s Day, which naturally, becomes another excuse for us to fire up the grill and enjoy some Irish favorites.

          Like any self-respecting Irish meal, it starts with a cold and creamy Guinness. Cheers!

          Drunken BBQ Sauce
          Makes about 2 cups

          Ingredients

          • 2 1/2 cups Guinness beer
          • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
          • 1 tablespoon bittersweet chocolate, shaved thinly
          • 1 tablespoon olive oil
          • 1 tablespoon stoneground Dijon mustard
          • 1/4 cup molasses
          • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
          • 1/4 cup brown sugar
          • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
          • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
          • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
          • 1 teaspoon salt
          • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
          • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
          • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

          Directions

          • In a saucepan heat oil over medium heat.
          • Then add in garlic, onions, salt and pepper and cook until onions are translucent
          • Turn heat to high and add beer, bringing to a boil and reducing to about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of liquid
          • Reduce heat to medium-low and add crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste
          • Allow mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until fully combined and to desired thickness
          • Add chocolate shavings and stir slowly until melted and thoroughly combined
          • Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool before transferring to a mason jar for storage
          • This sauce is perfect as a marinade for pork chops, steak and chicken wings or as a topping for burgers

           

          Grilled Bangers
          Ingredients

          • 2 lbs veil or chicken sausage
          • 2-3 cloves of garlic
          • 3-4 tablespoons Drunken BBQ Sauce

          Directions

          • To prepare sausages for grilling, crush garlic cloves slightly and rub over the outside of the sausages
          • Using a basting brush, liberally coat the sausages with Drunken BBQ Sauce and then set aside.
          • Fill grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light
          • Once the coals have ashed over, place the sausages on the grate and grill for about 20-30 minutes flipping halfway through
          • Cook sausages until the outside is brown and crispy and the inside is cooked through
          • Serve alongside mashed potatoes for a classic dish
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