Memorial Day Cookout
Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off the summer. Children (and many grown up children) have Memorial Day emblazoned in their psyches as the end of responsibilities and the beginning of fun. But apart from any nostalgic associations we have for this warm-weather holiday weekend, it is also the first time each year that most of us break out our grills and our outdoor cooking skills, as well.
We have chosen a simple and delicious menu -- one that moves outdoors without too much trouble, either to your own patio or your favorite park or picnic spot. Additionally, traditional picnic fare enjoys a universal appeal to both children and adults, and contains ingredients that, if not already on your pantry shelves, will be readily found at the supermarket. This menu should by no means be reserved only for Memorial Day. It's a great source whenever you're looking for cookout food ideas.
Our cookout menu is:
In selecting the chicken, remember that bone-in chicken with the skin on stands a better chance of becoming the succulent, juicy, crisp and brown entree you had in mind when you decided to barbecue chicken in the first place. Just this once, curb your habit of grabbing those boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
National Barbecue Day is Memorial Day Monday. Trim any excess skin off chicken pieces. Marinate bone-in and skin-on pieces 8 hours or overnight. Skinless, boneless pieces (if you insist upon them) should be marinated no more than 1 hour. This marinade does its job during the marinade process; drain the chicken pieces and, with paper towels, blot marinade from surface of chicken before putting on the grill.
How you cook the chicken is at least as important as what marinade or sauce you use. Barbecuing is a slow process. Too hot a grill will result in dried out chicken. If you have a covered grill, get one of those inexpensive oven thermometers and set it inside the grill. If your fancy-schmancy grill already has a thermostat, so much the better. The ideal cooking temperature for barbecue is between 350°F and 400°F (that's medium-hot coals in grilling parlance).
Also, put on your shopping list some of those hickory, mesquite or apple wood chips and some heavy-duty aluminum foil.
The challenge in barbecuing chicken is that, if you put it on the grill right over the coals, the oils and sauce from the chicken drip onto the coals and ignite. The resulting flames char the chicken on the outside before the meat is done on the inside. So we're not going to do that. Before we get to the process, however, let's mix up the sauce.
Pour mixture into blender container. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Remove about 1 cup sauce to use during the barbecue process. Reserve another cup of sauce for use in preparing the Cowboy Pinto Beans. Serve remaining sauce with chicken (it may be refrigerated up to a month). Makes about 5 cups.
The Indirect Heat Barbecue Process
Cooking time totals about 1 hour. So, remember to start thinking about getting the fire ready about an hour-and-a-half before you want to eat.
Barbecue BasicsCowboy Pinto Beans
Center each ear of corn on a square of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Liberally spread the surface of each ear with butter mixture. Fold in ends of aluminum foil and roll up.
Corn may be placed on the grill for 10 to 12 minutes, with grill lid down, or directly on the coals and turned frequently for about 8 minutes.
Cole slaw is a standard item on so many restaurant menus. But almost nowhere is it really done well. This one is crisp and tangy.
This is the easiest yeast bread you will ever make. It has a coarser texture than traditional yeast breads, but it is wonderfully moist, it perfumes your whole house while baking, and is irresistible when warm from the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the warm milk, yeast and honey. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes.
Mix the egg, butter, salt and water into the milk mixture. Gradually add the flour, stirring until well blended.
Cover the bowl and allow dough to rise in a warm place until more than doubled in bulk (about 40 minutes). Stir the dough down and beat for 30 seconds.
Pour the dough into a greased bowl (a 1-1/2 quart Pyrex casserole dish will give you a nice, round loaf). Bake at 375°F for about 50 minutes. Brush melted butter on the top of the loaf when it's just out of the oven.
Wash, trim and hull the strawberries; cut the larger ones in half. Transfer berries to a blender and purée. Transfer purée to a container and refrigerate.
Combine 1-1/2 cups of the sugar, flour and salt; set aside
Heat milk in top of a double boiler until hot, but not boiling; add a small amount of the hot milk to the sugar mixture, stirring to make a smooth paste. Then stir sugar mixture back into the remaining milk. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until slightly thickened. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 10 minutes.
Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Stir about one-fourth of the hot mixture into the eggs; mix well. Stir the egg mixture back into the hot mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Allow to cool.
Mix together the strawberry purée, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, whipping cream and extracts. Stir into the custard. Keep mixture refrigerated or on ice until ready to freeze.
Pour into freezer can of a hand-turned or electric ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Makes about 4 quarts.
Tips for Making Legendary Ice Cream
Make sure your custard mixture is as cold as possible when you begin freezing the ice cream. In fact, preparing the ice cream mixture the day before makes smoother ice cream and increases the yield.
Keep the beater, top and can of your ice cream freezer in the freezer or on ice so that these parts will be cold when ready for use.
Finely crushed ice will melt more evenly and will, therefore, give you a smoother textured ice cream.
To make and pack 4 quarts of ice cream, you will need about 20 pounds of crushed ice (15 for making and 5 for hardening) and 6 cups of rock (3 and 3) or 4 cups of table salt (2 and 2).
Be careful not to use too much salt. Salt makes the ice and melt water colder, so too much salt can cause the ice cream to freeze too fast on the edge of the can resulting in a grainy texture.
Cream the butter with the salt, lemon zest, nutmeg, sugar and eggs.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and baking soda. With electric mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Add the milk and mix well.
Drop by tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten cookies by stamping with a cookie press or bottom of a drinking glass. Sprinkle cookies lightly with granulated sugar.
Bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
A Few Days Before:
When the delectable aroma of barbecued chicken begins wafting from your grill, you'll be glad this cookout was your idea.
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