After months of lockdown, we spent as much of summer outside as possible, cooking and eating there as well. Those fortunate enough to have a place to grill have, by now, made burgers and hot dogs every way possible, perfected their steaks and run through all their other summer family favorites. But it’s not time to pack up the charcoal and put away the tongs yet. Keep the grilling going as long as possible with these tasty dishes that make the most of late-season produce while being substantial enough to carry into cooler fall weather. Here, five top chefs and food experts share favorite backyard barbecue recipes for lamb, chicken, pork chops, ribs and even a grilled cheese appetizer. (No, not the sandwich.)
And for more great grilling ideas, check out our 5 Favorite Recipes: Sophisticated Fish on the Grill.
For home cooks who normally stay in their comfort zone of steaks or burgers on the grill, barbecue evangelist Joe Carroll, who runs Brooklyn’s Fette Sau and St. Anselm, encourages experimentation with lamb for something different but just as delicious. “The shoulder blade chops are great,” he says. “They’re inexpensive, and they’re super flavorful.”
For a crowd-pleasing side dish, Carroll—also author of Feeding the Fire: Recipes and Strategies for Better Barbecue and Grilling—suggests grilled, rather than steamed, corn. He prefers his cobs extra-charred, which gives the kernels a smoky, nutty flavor. As a twist on spreading compound butter over the warm corn, he makes a stickier compound cream cheese. To finish, he suggests a tangy, za’atar spice blend (or substitute smoked paprika) to create a Middle Eastern alternative to the popular Mexican-style corn. An adventurous and knowledgeable wine drinker (St. Anselm holds a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its list), Carroll proposes an approachable, gulp-able Beaujolais as ideal for a don’t-want-to-think-too-much barbecue setting.
This dinner is a favorite of José Andrés’ from the menu at Bazaar Meat, his Best of Award of Excellence–winning chophouse in the Sahara Las Vegas hotel. "It's simple to make at home and uses very few ingredients, but it is an incredible late-summer meal," he says. "The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes work really well with the richness of the potatoes. The smoky grilled flavor and the crispy skin of the chicken are hearty and delicious."
Here, Andrés spatchcocks a whole chicken—removing the backbone and breastbone so it can be flattened for more even, efficient cooking—then rubs it in herbs and marinates it overnight. He lets the pure, ripe flavors of late-season tomatoes shine with only a simple dressing of onions, scallions, oil and vinegar. The potatoes, done in the decadently creamy style made famous by French chef Joël Robuchon, are almost equal parts butter and potato. For the pairing, Andrés turns to a Spanish red on the lighter side, a Mencía from Bierzo. "The bright red fruit of the wine complements the sweetness from the tomatoes," Andrés says, and its mellow tannins and crisp acidity accentuate the charry notes of the chicken, cutting through the rich potatoes.
In Southern California, it’s almost always grilling season. Chef Neal Fraser, whose flagship Redbird restaurant in Los Angeles holds a Best of Award of Excellence, shares a recipe that he has adapted for home cooking and entertaining: bone-in pork chops slathered in his take on barbecue sauce, one showcasing the multicultural influences of Angeleno cuisine. He combines Calabrian chiles, maple syrup, fish sauce and Sherry vinegar to achieve a sweet, sugary and salty flavor profile.
For the pork, Fraser turns to the Red Wattle breed; check local butcher shops or farmers markets for similar heritage breeds, as they have more flavor and fat than typical supermarket pork, and the meat won’t dry out on the grill. He rounds out the dish with a quick-cooking spaetzle—ideal for soaking up the sauce and juices—and, when stone fruit is in season, a peach mostarda, made simply with a green peach, Dijon mustard and sugar. If you want a green vegetable as a side, Fraser adds some braised Swiss chard. For a wine pairing, you can go either white or red: A fruity Riesling highlights the maple syrup in the glaze, while a Syrah with moderate tannins and savory smoked flavors will mirror the grilled pork.
What Americans think of as grilled cheese usually isn't actually grilled, but elsewhere around the world, you’ll find plenty of examples of throwing a hardy block of cheese on the barbie to undergo a magical transformation: deliciously caramelized and crunchy on the outside, with comforting ooze on the inside. In Argentina, a traditional asado (barbecue) always starts off with a grilled cheese, provoleta, a twist on the cuisine of the country’s Italian immigrants. In its simplest incarnation, it's a chunk of aged provolone grilled and sprinkled with hot chile flakes and dried oregano.
This version of a marinated, grilled provoleta-style appetizer from cheese columnist David Gibbons is inspired by globe-trotting Patagonian chef Francis Mallmann, an expert on all methods of open-fire cooking in his cookbooks and dining venues, including Restaurante 1884 in Mendoza. You can try this with a medley of different types of cheeses—Cotija or Vella Dry Jack, Halloumi and Yanni—with varied melting properties, providing intriguing comparisons and contrasts. Buen provecho!
For a meal that lets you do much of the prep work ahead of time, chef Morgan Mueller, of the Butcher's Table in Seattle, turns to slow-cooked beef (or pork) ribs that are started in the oven. "For the ribs, the most important thing is to do the work the night before," says Mueller, whose modern steak house holds a Best of Award of Excellence. "We clean the ribs the night before, we season the ribs the night before, and we even go as far as wrapping them in tinfoil the night before. And then that way, when you wake up in the morning, you can just turn your oven on and pop them in. You don't have to really do a whole lot of fussing the day of your event."
These ribs are rubbed with the restaurant's all-purpose seasoning blend (you can use your favorite store-bought mix), fennel seeds, black pepper and cayenne. They are then roasted with rosemary sprigs and lemon slices; the drippings are mixed with balsamic vinegar to create the savory-sweet glaze, applied right before grilling. (In the height of summer, Mueller also serves a stone-fruit salad with prosciutto and cheese; tuck this recipe away for next season if you can't get great-quality fruit now, or riff off it with whatever is in season in your area.) A Northern Rhône Syrah, such as one from the St.-Joseph appellation, is a natural pairing with beef. A young wine will show a juicy, fruity character, while one with a little age will have a gamy side. Either way, the Syrah’s ample acidity and rich tannins will work nicely to balance the fatty beef ribs.