Let’s not grill just chicken and burgers; we’ve done that all summer long. Make it steaks and chops, the kings of backyard barbecue.
The main secret to great barbecued steaks and chops is all too simple: You have to buy the expensive cuts. Cheaper steaks and chops are fine for sauteing, but they may come out tough and dry on the barbecue.
In the case of pork, even the best chops require careful handling to avoid dryness. Sear the chops on both sides over the hotter part of the coals if you like but do most of the cooking on a cooler part of the grill. The best way is to put on the barbecue lid and let the chops cook mostly by indirect heat.
Most grill gurus say to salt the meat lightly before putting it on the fire, but there is also an intensely vocal anti-salting party. The more elaborate route, of course, is to marinate.
Then there’s the whole world of garnishes and side dishes. But remember - they’re just the jesters and counselors and courtesans. The steak (or chop) is the king.
Curried Yogurt-Marinated Chops
This traditional Indian marinade is good on any meat. Serve the pork chops with mango chutney or peach preserves.
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon poppy seeds, optional
4 large loin pork chops, 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick
Mix yogurt, garlic, ginger, oil, curry powder and poppy seeds (if desired). Marinate chops overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking. Sear 1 minute on each side in hottest part of barbecue, then move to cooler part, cover grill and cook until chops are pale pink in center when cut, 12 to 15 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 276 calories, 92 milligrams sodium, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams fat (68 percent fat calories), 6 grams carbohydrate, 16 grams protein.
Onion Juice Steak
This simple but effective marinade, adapted from a Persian recipe that uses saffron instead of thyme, gives a good, oniony smell to the meat.
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves only
1 (1/2-pound) New York strip steak
Puree onion on grater or in food processor (leave windows open to dissipate fumes). Press through cheesecloth or fine strainer. Mix thyme into juice. Seal steak and marinade in plastic bag overnight in refrigerator. Grill to desired doneness.
Yield: 1 serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 255 calories, 102 milligrams sodium, 104 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams fat (28 percent fat calories), 8 grams carbohydrate, 37 grams protein.
Horseradish Garlic Butter
If you’re grilling high-quality aged beef, you probably don’t want to obscure the flavor of the meat with a heavy sauce. A flavored butter, such as this one, can be just the thing to add a little zip.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon mild paprika
2 teaspoons minced chives
Pinch white pepper
Combine butter, horseradish, garlic, paprika, chives and pepper in small bowl and stir until well mixed. On wax paper, shape into roll about 1 inch in diameter. Refrigerate until ready to use. Slice and place on hot steak to melt.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 71 calories, 83 milligrams sodium, 21 milligrams cholesterol, 8 grams fat (100 percent fat calories), 1 gram carbohydrate, no protein.
This butter is surprisingly good. Use high-quality Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigianno Reggiano.
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Combine butter, cheese and parsley in small bowl and stir until well mixed. On wax paper, shape into roll about 1 inch in diameter. Refrigerate until ready to use. Slice and place on hot steak to melt.
Yield: 8 servings. Nutrition information per serving: 116 calories, 174 milligrams sodium, 33 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams fat (93 percent fat calories), no carbohydrate, 1 gram protein.
Balsamic Eggplant Relish
This puree combines the dark, meaty flavors of balsamic vinegar and fried eggplant.
1/4 cup oil
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or more to taste
Peel eggplant and slice 1/4-inch thick. Salt slices and let rest 1/2 hour. Rinse and pat dry. Heat oil in large skillet and fry eggplant slices on both sides until brown.
Drain on paper towels, then press between fresh paper towels to remove as much oil as possible. Puree and mix with balsamic vinegar. Serve on or beside steak.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings: 48 calories, 197 milligrams sodium, no cholesterol, 5 grams fat (94 percent fat calories), 2 grams carbohydrate, no protein.
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