Grilling Vegetables

Written By Michael Vyskocil, Photos by: Tara Hope Cofiell

In summer, it is certain that neighborhoods across Carroll County will be filled with the smells of outdoor cooking. From prime rib and steaks to vegetables and fruit, a summer cookout is synonymous with casual entertaining at home. But how you choose to prepare your summer cookout depends on a number of factors.

First, there’s the choice of cooking techniques: grilling or barbecuing. Grilling, said Kurt Kraus, owner of Smokers Catering & Carry Out in Finksburg, is a quick cooking method that uses direct heat for cooking foods. Barbecuing or “smoking” is a longer, slower cooking method that uses indirect heat for cooking. Tender cuts of meat, Kraus said, work best when grilled. “The quick cooking and the high heat seal in the juices, creating a juicy piece of meat.”

Barbecuing, on the other hand, works best for tougher cuts of meat, such as beef brisket or pork ribs, he said. “These meats benefit from the long, slow cooking process, becoming so tender that they will just fall off the bone.”

Another major difference is the heat source.

“Grilling is generally done over a gas flame, or hot coals,” said Kraus. “Barbecuing or smoking is typically done over charcoal or wood.”

Expert chefs and cooking enthusiasts alike all have definite opinions on the subject of which is better for grilling, charcoal or gas grills.

Although there is no definitive answer, each heat has advantages and disadvantages. Temperature can be difficult to regulate in charcoal grills. Assembling and disassembling the grills can also be time-consuming, but the flavor that charcoal grills can impart to a piece of meat is difficult to duplicate on a gas grill.

Gas grills, on the other hand, shave preheating and preparation time – a bonus to the time-crunched cook who is planning to grill on busy weekdays. Temperature can also be more easily regulated on gas grills. But whether you use a charcoal or a gas grill for cooking, both are perfectly suitable for either grilling or barbecuing.

Prices for grills range anywhere from $69 to $199 for a charcoal grill and $99 to $849 for a gas grill, according to customer services associate Chris Crouch of Lowe’s Home Improvement in Westminster.

If you are using a charcoal grill, you will need to consider whether you want to use hardwood or bagged charcoal.

“Hardwood charcoal lights quicker and burns hotter than [preformed coals],” said Kurt Kraus. “It is a bit more expensive, but my opinion is that the end product tastes better.” Kraus recommends using a chimney starter for a charcoal grill, which is great for eliminating the unpleasant smell of lighter fluid.

Whether you choose charcoal or gas, or decide to barbecue or grill your food, there are many recipes for grilling and barbecuing. Here are several one’s for cooking out this summer:

Spicy Mustard Ribs
Serves 8
? cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
? teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3 ? to 4 pounds pork country-style ribs
1 ? cups firmly packed light-brown sugar
? cup apple-cider vinegar
1 cup finely chopped onion
?/? cup spicy brown mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
? teaspoon celery seed

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, black pepper, paprika, curry powder and salt. Rub spice mixture over ribs, coating well. Place ribs in a shallow baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill, arranging the coals for indirect cooking around a metal drip pan. Lightly coat the grilling rack with cooking spray. The coals should be moderately hot.
Place ribs, fat side up, on grill rack, positioning the ribs directly over the drip pan. Lower grill hood. Grill ribs for about 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until tender. Turn ribs once and add more coals as needed.
While the ribs are grilling, prepare the mustard sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, apple-cider vinegar, onion, mustard, garlic, honey, Worcestershire sauce and celery seed. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the sauce, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally.
Brush the mustard sauce over the ribs during the last 15 to 20 minutes of grilling. Keep any remaining sauce warm over low heat and serve sauce alongside grilled ribs.

Homemade Vegetable (or Steak) Marinade
Makes about 1 1/? cups
1 cup olive oil
1/? cup red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
? cup sugar
? teaspoon hot sauce
? teaspoon coarse salt
? teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
? teaspoon dried oregano

In a small mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Recipe courtesy Scott Kulick, executive chef, Smokers Catering & Carry Out, Finksburg

Grilled Ratatouille Skewers
Grill these skewers alongside steaks or pork chops:
Makes 8 side-dish servings
1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 red sweet bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
? cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/? cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
? cup finely ground Italian bread crumbs
16 large cherry tomatoes

Thread eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and onions onto eight skewers, alternating vegetables on the skewers. Brush the vegetables with the olive oil. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs. Place the dry ingredients on a piece of parchment paper. Roll the skewered vegetables through the dry ingredients until the vegetables are evenly coated.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill, arranging the coals for indirect cooking. The coals should be moderately hot.

Grill the skewered vegetables for 10 to 12 minutes, turning the skewers often during grilling. Remove the skewers from the grill, and carefully thread the tomatoes onto the ends of the skewers. Return the skewers to the grill and briefly grill for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot.

Citrus Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 6 cups
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
8 ounces (1 cup) pineapple juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup apple-cider vinegar
2 cups commercially prepared chili sauce
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
2 tablespoons cornstarch
? cup Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan, heat canola oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the light-brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chili powder to the saucepan and stir to combine with the cooked onion and garlic. Add the orange juice concentrate, pineapple juice, lime juice, apple-cider vinegar, chili sauce and mustard to the saucepan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into the Worcestershire sauce, and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Using a wire whisk, stir in the Worcestershire sauce mixture until it is blended with the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 13 minutes. This sauce may be used hot or cold and can be served with chicken, seafood or pork. Recipe courtesy of Scott Kulick, executive chef, Smokers Catering & Carry Out, Finksburg