There are 46 Major League Baseball games over Memorial Day weekend this year. That's nearly four dozen locations for a great tailgate, and thousands of grills will be fired up in stadium parking lots and backyards for the next three days. Unfortunately most of those glowing coals will be used to cook burgers and dogs. Give me a break. We get enough hot dogs inside the ballpark. Americans are slated to eat over 20 million this year.
Why not try something a little more adventurous and unexpected?
Here are nine unique grilling ideas that will impress your family and friends. Why not ten? Because nine seems more unique, and that's sort of the theme here. Now, instead of hearing, "Well, the Padres season is already over," you'll have guests exclaiming, "I didn't know you could grill that!" So when you're picking up some charcoal, bypass the burgers and add a couple of these to your menu.
Why haven't I ever grilled bacon? I know that's immediately what you thought when you read it. Let's be honest, you're probably still going to make cheeseburgers because they're a Memorial Day classic. So toss a few strips of America's favorite meat next to them and double down on that irresistible, smoky flavor.
Put down the cow and branch out for a different kind of steak. Buffalo is becoming more popular in restaurants and is now widely available online. Plus, it's much better for you containing 70 percent less fat than beef and 50 percent less cholesterol. So if it won't be a holiday weekend at your tailgate without the flames leaping at a juicy ribeye, give Buffalo a chance.
If you must have meat in tube form, make it sausage. Not sweet Italian or Polish, but something a little out of your comfort zone. Just about every city now has a butcher who makes and sells their own sausage, including varieties like pheasant, rabbit, ostrich and elk. This is the best way to experiment with wild game because the added fat will keep the meat from drying out. I like to poach them in beer and onions in an aluminum pan on the back of the grill, then finish them directly on the grates to crisp up the outside.
Why not give the snapper and tuna population a break for the weekend? There are tons of fish available that you've never heard of. Often times, these "trash fish" were discarded by fisherman due to a lack of a market for them, but now chefs across the country are finding ways to add them to their menus. So go down to your fish market and buy something for your grill that you've never heard of. It'll definitely be delicious and a lot cheaper than the halibut you normally get.
Grilled corn? Tired. Grilled asparagus? That was unique in college. You're an adult now. And adults eat Brussels sprouts. Maybe you were tortured by a boiling pot of these mini-cabbages as a child, but they're one of the hottest ingredients in the culinary world these days. They're great pan roasted, but perfectly suited for grilling. For one, they won't fall through the grates. They're also easy to roll around and turn. Place them over a low flame spray with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and nutmeg as they cook. The outsides will crisp slightly, and I promise they'll be nothing like what your parents used to threaten you with.
Yes, you can grill lettuce. Take a head of romaine and quarter it lengthwise. Drizzle some oil on the wedges and grill the cut side over high heat for 30-45 seconds, just enough to char the outside leaves. Serve each guest a wedge drizzled with Caesar dressing, fresh grated parmesan and croutons. Speaking of which ...
If you think it sounds strange, how many times have you toasted buns or even made bruschetta on the grill? The trick is to cut your cubes big enough that they don't fall through the grates. You'll also have to watch them like a hawk. I'm convinced bread is more flammable than kerosene when you're not paying attention to it. Turn the bread until the sides look toasty and have taken on a smoky flavor.
Sure, a slice of Swiss will become a mess if you toss it on your grill. But there are a few hearty cheeses that can stand up to the heat and come out better for it. My favorite is scamorza. It's an Italian cow's milk cheese, similar to mozzarella. A thick slice will take on grill marks and soak up the smoke long before it will fall through the cracks.
Pineapple spears are the old standard here, but they're basically training wheels for dessert grilling. I like berries a whole lot more- strawberries to be specific. Stack four or five on a skewer and brush with balsamic vinegar as they cook. Anyone who doesn't devour them over vanilla ice cream shouldn't get an invite to next year's Memorial Day weekend cookout.
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