• Stir It Up: Labor Day: The last hurrah
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     | August 23,2013
     
    Photo Courtesy of Oxmoor House

    Grilled corn with spicy butter helps turn a humble backyard cookout into an end-of-summer feast.

    If you think of summer in terms of a meal — and why not? — the whole season is like one long cookout, with Memorial Day being the chips and salsa, and Labor Day being the s’mores.

    You might be among the millions who bookend their summers with actual (as opposed to metaphorical) cookouts. On Memorial Day, you gathered with a sense of anticipation and adventure (vacations in the offing, school ending, baseball season in full swing), while on Labor Day you may detect a distinct back-to-school/work feeling in the air, along with the whiff of grilled beef. Even though you may have a number of fall barbecues yet to come, Labor Day is really summer’s last hurrah.

    Just as you eased into summer by throwing a steak or some burgers on the grill on Memorial Day, you might want to ease out of it on Labor Day. If you still have the energy to roast a pig or dig a pit for a clambake, by all means, go for it, but some of us ran out of steam for that after the Fourth of July. At this point, we’re content to pull on a beer and hang out with the neighbors while paying only casual attention to the grill.

    Among the lessons summer has taught us — right up there with “wear sunscreen” and “stay hydrated” — is this: Sides make the meal. Salads — slaw, tossed, tomato, potato and pasta — are stars, along with grilled vegetables, salsas and pickled anything.

    A Labor Day cookout gives you one more chance to go for the gold. Grilling corn is one way to get there, as is grilling sweet potatoes or summer squash.

    One last cheer for the summer of 2013!



    Chipotle Grilled Corn

    Yield: 8 servings

    ½ cup unsalted butter, melted

    2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce

    1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

    Vegetable cooking spray or vegetable oil

    8 ears fresh corn, husks removed

    Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper



    Prepare a covered charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling on medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees).

    In a small bowl, stir together the butter, hot sauce and lime juice.

    Lightly coat each ear of corn with vegetable cooking spray or a light coating of oil (use a pastry brush). Place on the grill; cover with the grill lid and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, turning every 5 minutes. Remove corn from grill and brush evenly with butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

    (Recipe from “All Fired Up: Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets From the South’s Best Pitmasters” by Troy Black and the editors of Southern Living; Oxmoor House, 2013)



    Grilled Sweet Potato Planks

    Yield: 6 servings

    1/3 cup olive oil

    1 tablespoon minced shallot

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

    3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

    ½ cup crumbled blue cheese



    Prepare a covered charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees).

    In a small bowl, stir together the oil, shallot, rosemary, salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, slightly brush the oil mixture over both sides of each sweet potato slice.

    Place slices on grill, cover with grill lid, and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Place sweet potatoes on a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese. Serve.

    (Recipe from “All Fired Up: Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets From the South’s Best Pitmasters” by Troy Black and the editors of Southern Living; Oxmoor House, 2013)



    Sweet Grilled Zucchini

    Yield: 4 servings

    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 teaspoon brown sugar

    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

    ½ teaspoon minced garlic

    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    ¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

    2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices



    Prepare a covered charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees).

    In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, lemon juice, salt, garlic and peppers. Using a pastry brush, brush zucchini lightly with the mixture on both sides.

    Place on grill and cover with grill lid. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until tender. (They taste best if they get a bit charred.) Serve immediately.

    (Recipe from “All Fired Up: Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets From the South’s Best Pitmasters” by Troy Black and the editors of Southern Living; Oxmoor House, 2013)



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

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