I am one of those people who thinks everything tastes better when it’s cooked over open flames. (I am also one of those people who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near fire, as I am known for forgetting cookies are in the oven, the flame’s under the kettle, the handle on the grill is white-hot, hence any grilling I am involved with absolutely, definitely requires assistance.)
In typical long-weekend-for-Americans fashion, my family grilled out for Labor Day this year. The evening before, I mixed a few marinades—one for the chicken and one for the veggies—letting the chicken soak up the rosemary-infused, garlic, lemony juices overnight. Beyond the chicken, we would have zucchini, squash, garlic naan, a big salad (and, anything at all else I’d decide to toss on last-minute, since, when one’s charcoal opportunities are limited, she must make the most of the hot flames while she’s got them).
Monday morning, I brainstormed a nutella panini with strawberries, buttering one side (the side to be grilled first) and using fresh, pre-sliced Italian bread. My pictures are terrible, so I’ll just tell you: ooey-gooey chocolate nutty flavor, mixed with juicy bits of fresh strawberries, sandwiched between the crunchy bite of grilled bread—I think I’m beginning to understand why people buy panini-makers.
The chicken was very good—my mom can barbeque like a champ, even in the heat of 90-degree weather—but my marinade didn’t shine through much, we decided. Maybe because it orginally called for thighs, and we used boneless, skinless breasts? Either way, the meat was beautifully tender and delicious, the way only a hot charcoal grill can get it.
And I really enjoyed the veggies, which is something since I’m not their biggest fan, normally, particularly not when it comes to squash or zucchini. This marinade is based on a recipe from Emeril, and I only made a few tweaks, partially because of not having certain items (running out of olive oil, tragedy!) and partially just because of preference (can you have too much garlic? too much basil?).
As summer’s barely ending and we look forward to a few months of fall’s crisp afternoons and brisk night air, I’d say this marinade would make a great addition to a barbeque anytime. Not to mention, fall will bring us fresh, local-grown vegetables to play with.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (mixed mine with canola)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (easy alternative: half vinegar, half water, bit of sugar)
3 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (more is good)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Veggies (use whatever you’d like!)
1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 1/3-inch thick slices
1 pound yellow squash and zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
Whisk ingredients together in a mixing bowl. when it comes time to cook, brush this mixture all over your veggies before placing them on the grill. Keep your eye on them, turning them until they begin to brown and show grill lines.