The smell of meat cooking on the grill whets the appetites and stirs the memories of anyone who has ever been to an outdoor barbecue. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, families and friends gather together for traditional American summer food and fun. Barbecuing is a ritual that shouldn’t be limited to holidays, and it doesn’t always have to be the same typical menu.
Pretty much anything you can eat can be grilled; so your options could be boundless. By the end of summer, every meat, fruit and vegetable imaginable has probably been thrown onto a grill. When cooking out, you may have found yourself grilling a few proven, family favorites everyone expects such as ribs, hot dogs and burgers. But grilling out doesn’t have to be predictable.
When the signs of autumn signal the end of summer fun, it is the perfect time to try some new recipes for some of your favorite game. Hunting seasons are just around the corner, so you can either use meat you have frozen through the year or wait for each season to grill fresh rabbit, turkey and deer.
Gas grilling can be extremely convenient, but some people will always prefer charcoal. Whether you use a gas or charcoal grill, you want to be sure you don’t overcook or undercook the meat. Cooks with little grilling experience will definitely want to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. This will guarantee the food is safe to eat without unintentionally cooking it too long.
Brining for several hours and basting regularly will help keep your meats moist. Marinades and sauces can be made ahead, which will save time the day of the barbecue. However, brining can take anywhere from two hours to overnight, so be sure to plan ahead.
Of course, hanging out and socializing with friends and family while the grill heats and the meat cooks is a key element of the cooking out experience. Because it is usually part of a larger social activity, barbecuing is a great way to get your children involved in cooking by sharing your love of the grill in a fun and friendly setting.
Teens can learn about different cuts of meat and food safety issues as they prepare to grill and then progress to turning and basting the meat. Younger children like Rolley Len and Cason can assist in many other ways from preparation to side dishes. Buttering bread for toasting is one of the simplest tasks that even very young children can do. As they get older, more challenging skills such as chopping cabbage and mixing the coleslaw dressing or creating marinades can be added to their repertoire.
Blending cooking with fellowship can help children build a sense of community while also teaching life skills. Included are a few recipes that add a variety of flavors to try cooking at your next barbecue. Grilling more traditional foods is always a safe bet, but adding rabbit, turkey and deer to the menu can offer other healthy choices for you and your friends and family. You might even discover you have some new family barbecue favorites.
MULBERRY BARBECUE MARINADE
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
8 ounces tomato paste
¼ cup mulberries, pureed
2 Tablespoons honey
Up to 1 Tablespoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half, stirring frequently.
LEMON HERB RABBIT
1 rabbit, dressed and quartered (about 2½ pounds)
1 lemon, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
Herbs, to taste (1 Tablespoon minced fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) tarragon, rosemary, thyme, basil or dill)
3 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Rub rabbit pieces with lemon and lightly season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine mustard, sugar and herbs; mix well. Whisk in oil and lemon juice.
For a gas grill, use high heat; for a charcoal grill, place meat 5-6 inches from the hot coals. Place the rabbit meaty side down on the grill. Lightly brush with the mustard mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until browned.
Turn and baste again. Let it cook for 45 minutes, turning and basting regularly. To check for doneness, cut deeply into a joint. If the juice runs pink, grill 10-15 more minutes, or until juice runs clear.
1 pound boneless venison tenderloin or backstrap
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Trim fat and tissue from the meat. Cut into long thin strips or 1-inch cubes. Put meat in a resealable gallon bag and set aside.
In a bowl, combine rest of ingredients. Mix well. Pour over meat in the bag. Seal bag and shake to coat meat with marinade. Let soak least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
Remove meat from marinade. In a saucepan, place remaining marinade and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and let simmer.
For a gas grill, use medium heat; for a charcoal grill, place meat 4-6 inches from medium coals. Put meat on skewers and place on the grill. Cook 5-8 minutes, baste with marinade and turn. Cook for 5-8 minutes more or until cooked. Baste with marinade as needed.
CARIBBEAN GRILLED TURKEY
1 turkey breast, boned with skin on
¾ cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Rinse turkey, pat dry with paper towels and place in a shallow dish. In a blender or with a food processor, combine rest of ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour half the mixture over the turkey coating it well. Let marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Refrigerate remaining peanut sauce separately for basting later.
For a gas grill, use medium heat; for a charcoal grill, place meat over medium-hot coals. Remove turkey from dish, discarding the marinade. Place turkey on the grill. Cook covered, basting frequently until the turkey reaches 170° internally. It should take 11-15 minutes per pound. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.