Fire Up the Grill!
with Suzanne Klein
Chief Yummy Officer
BBQ Brine Brining Cedar Plank Grill Marinade Marinade Marinades Marinate Marinating Pork Chops Ribs Salmon Sauce Scallops Steak Wings
The sunny days may be getting shorter but summer is not over yet. In preparation for the last big summer weekend—Labor Day—we’re planning our menus for the rest of the grilling season.
The sunny days may be getting shorter but summer is not over yet. In preparation for the last big summer weekend—Labor Day—we’re planning our menus for the rest of the grilling season. It’s not just what to cook but how we prep for the grill that makes a difference. To brine, to marinate, or to rub? That is the question.
Brining is not just for turkeys! We’ve been brining in the test kitchen all summer and it’s revolutionized our grilling. For more details about how and why to brine, read Savory Spice founder Mike Johnston’s Brining 101 feature article. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite brining-inspired recipes that yield the juiciest and most tender proteins on the grill.
Curry & Heat Brining Spices
Brining is also not just for meat. This summer, Savory Spice Founder Mike Johnston created several DIY recipes for making your own brining flavor profiles. This Curry & Heat version with Bengal Bay “Panch Phoron”, cinnamon chips, cardamom seeds, and pequin chiles is perfect for tofu. Tofu is a blank canvas for flavor and could use at least an hour or up to overnight in the brine. Pat the tofu dry after brining and rub it with an Asian-inspired seasoning like Garam Masala or Red Thai Curry before grilling.
Thai Brined Pork Chops
My brother taught me how to make these mouthwatering pork chops that he often serves as a special at his Thai-inspired restaurant in Puerto Rico. Featuring makrut lime leaves, star anise, and dried Thai chiles, the chops get infused with a nice balance of tangy, sweet, and heat. The sugar from the brine gives them nice char marks on the grill, too.
Ribs with Peanut Butter BBQ Sauce
This oven-roasted ribs recipe can be finished under the broiler or on the grill. The ribs are brined in a sweet and salty liquid seasoned with Chinese Five Spice. Basting the ribs with a sweet and spicy peanut butter BBQ sauce while they cook yields a charred, crispy coating that makes me feel like I’m eating candied meat pops. They’re so addictive.
The purpose of a marinade is to tenderize and add loads of flavor to whatever you’re cooking. Marinades work wonders for lean protein like chicken, pork, or tofu. But they’re also great for any fruit or veggies you’re prepping for the grill, like zucchini strips or pineapple rings. For more on why and how to marinate, check out my feature article, Taking the Mystery out of Marinades. In the meantime, here are a few of the easy marinade recipes I’ve been using for the grill this summer.
Ruby red annatto seeds soaked then blended with citrus juices and cumin makes a bright and tangy marinade for lean protein like fish and chicken. For a gorgeous presentation, wrap the marinated protein in banana leaves (available in the freezer at Asian markets) brushed with oil before grilling.
Roman Pepper Steak Marinade
While this is the perfect marinade for your favorite cut of steak, it's also lovely for infusing Italian flavors into chicken, meaty white fish, or vegetables. I used this marinade on a whim for steak tacos when I was out of my favorite Latin seasoning at home and, to my surprise, it was delicious! The all-purpose flavors in the seasoning make this a versatile marinade for lots of different applications.
Marmalade Marinated Woody Creek Wings
The combination of BBQ seasoning, yogurt, and marmalade gives these wings the perfect balance of spicy, tangy, and sweet. Marinating chicken wings in yogurt helps keep them juicy for the grill, and the sugar in the marmalade helps add that classic char look and taste once the wings hit the flames.
When you don’t have time to brine or marinate, simply reach for one of our signature seasonings and start rubbing. This is the easiest and quickest way to add any flavor you’re in the mood for—BBQ, Asian, Mediterranean, Curry, Americana—to whatever you’re grilling. Check out our in-house spice expert Stephanie Bullen’s feature article Surf vs. Turf: Our Favorite Rubs for Grilling for a few steak and seafood suggestions. In the meantime, here are a few easy grill-inspired recipes that are all about the rub.
Moroccan Grilled Scallops
While these are titled “Moroccan”, you could take them in any flavor direction just by swapping out the seasoning to one of your favorite rubs. Here, the scallops are rinsed, patted dry, and rubbed with the North African flavors of Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning before they are quickly grilled. These scallops are are sweet and refreshing and perfect over crisp summer salad.
Pearl Street Cedar Plank Salmon
This is the recipe our sweet and smoky Pearl Street Plank Rub was made for. A little planning is required to soak a cedar plank in water so it won’t burn on the grill. While the plank is soaking, rub the salmon with the seasoning to get the flavor started. Once you get this on the grill, you’ll be eating in about 15 minutes. Serve with crisp greens for the perfect summer meal.
Easy Rubbed Ribs
What makes these easy is the technique: par-boil the ribs before finishing them in the oven or on the grill. We boil the ribs for 45 minutes with our Shrimp & Crab Boil seasoning to infuse a bit of flavor while cooking them through. Then we simply rub them (generously) with our favorite BBQ seasoning and broil or grill for about 10 minutes to finish them with a nice charred texture and flavor.
What have you been grilling this summer? Please share by submitting your favorite grilling recipes to our test kitchen.