• Stir It Up: Start summer with a little sizzle
     | May 24,2013
    Provided Photo

    Molasses-marinated steak with watermelon salsa makes a sizzling start to the summer grilling season. The photo is from “All Fired Up,” from the editors of Southern Living, courtesy of Oxmoor House.

    Despite what the almanac says, Memorial Day is, for many, the “official” start of summer. Old-school fashionistas marked it as the time when one could start wearing white shoes. Others consider it the first day of gin and tonic season. For many of us living in the brisker parts of the country, Memorial Day inspires our first lighting of the grill.

    Just in time, the editors of Southern Living come through with “All Fired Up,” which promises “Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets from the South’s Best Pitmasters.” The book joins “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle” by Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk (Andrews McMeel), which promises to reveal “What the Champions Cook in Their Own Backyards.”

    Then there’s a remarkable volume called “Smoke: New Firewood Cooking” by Tim Byres (Rizzoli). “Smoke” is your go-to book if you are dying to smoke some goat leg, bake beans in a clay pot in the coals, or construct an upright pig roaster.

    For your first grill fest of the season, you might want to forget the pig roast and ease into it with something simpler. At the same time, since it is your first grilling event, you want to make it special. The Grilled Molasses Flank Steak With Watermelon Salsa from “All Fired Up” is a surefire (pun intended) crowd pleaser, as is the Chipotle Grilled Corn from the same cookbook and the simple yet succulent Lo’-n-Slo’Grilled Asparagus from “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle.”

    For a sweet ending, you can’t go wrong with s’mores. Hey, it’s summer!

    Grilled Molasses Flank Steak With Watermelon Salsa

    Yield: 6 to 8 servings

    For the salsa:

    1 cup diced unpeeled nectarine

    2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced

    1 tablespoon sugar

    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    2 teaspoons orange zest

    2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

    2 cups seeded and diced watermelon

    ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

    1/3 cup diced red onion

    For the marinade:

    ¾ cup molasses

    1/3 cup soy sauce

    ¼ cup canola oil

    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

    2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

    3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

    1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

    For the steak:

    1 (2-pound) flank steak

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Make the salsa (up to 24 hours ahead): Stir together the nectarine, jalapenos, sugar, lime juice, orange zest and ginger in a large bowl; let stand 15 minutes. Add watermelon, cilantro and red onion; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 24 hours.

    Make the marinade (4 to 12 hours in advance): Place the marinade ingredients in a 2-gallon zip-top plastic freezer bag; squeeze bag to combine. Add steak; seal bag and chill 4 to 12 hours.

    Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat (400 to 450 degrees). Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill steak, covered with grill lid, 9 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness.

    Remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil and let stand 10 minutes. Cut diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topped with Watermelon Salsa.

    (Recipe from “All Fired Up” from the editors of Southern Living; Oxmoor House, 2013)

    Chipotle Grilled Corn

    Yield: 8 servings

    ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

    2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce (Tabasco and Cholula are among several widely available brands)

    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

    Olive oil or canola oil, as needed

    8 ears fresh corn, husks removed

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

    Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees). Stir together the butter, hot sauce and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each ear of corn with oil. Grill, covered with the grill lid, 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning every 5 minutes.

    Brush corn evenly with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

    (Recipe from “All Fired Up” from the editors of Southern Living; Oxmoor House, 2013)

    Lo’-n-Slo’ Grilled Asparagus

    Yield: 8 servings

    2 pounds asparagus

    1 cup olive oil

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Rinse the asparagus and trim the woody root ends. Place in a 2-gallon zip-top plastic storage bag. Add the oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake to completely coat the asparagus. Let rest 10 minutes. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for cooking over direct high heat (400 to 450 degrees). Remove the asparagus from the bag and place directly on the grill. Cook 2 minutes, then turn and cook 2 minutes more, or until done but still a little crunchy. Do not overcook. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    (Recipe from “America’s Best BBQ Homestyle” by Ardie A. Davis and Paul Kirk; Andrews McMeel, 2013)

    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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