Backyard BBQ Bliss

You know it is summer when you step out your back door in the evening and absorb a good whiff of backyard BBQ. This smell transports me right back to being a little girl growing up in Door County. I love it – it makes me smile with the memories of chasing lightning bugs while adorned in pigtails and dirty knees, eating late and salivating over a homemade cheeseburger grilled to perfection on the Weber grill. Yum!

I have to say I still find pleasure in gathering around the BBQ with a group of good friends on a warm summer evening. Instead of bright red Kool-Aid mustache, however, I prefer pairing a local hoppy beer or chilled Sauvignon Blanc with my grilled delicacies.

At this time of year the garden is in full swing, so it’s time to reap in the bounty, adding a non-traditional twist to some favorite dishes from my youth. Here are some quick and easy healthy recipes for grilled corn on the cob with chili cumin butter and grilled whitefish with garden fresh mango pico de gallo. When paired together, they create a perfectly delicious summer meal for four.

Grill Prep Tip

I learned a clever way to prep and clean your BBQ before you get started from a cooking show years ago. First off heat it up, whether charcoal or gas, get it hot. Cut a raw potato in half, rub the potato on the grill grate (use a fork in the potato so you do not burn your hand). The starch in the potato not only cleans the grate but also seasons it so food does not stick as easily. Continue with this method each time you grill – the results speak for themselves.

Mango Pico De Gallo

Fresh mango – peeled and cubed

3 to 4 garden fresh tomatoes – diced

Fresh onion – diced small

1 to 2 jalapeño peppers – cut in half, remove seeds and ribs, small dice (always wear rubber gloves when handling hot peppers)

Avocado – chunks

Cilantro – remove stems and chop leaves

Juice of one lime

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in a bowl with the juice of a lime, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. The flavors will blend as the other dishes are being prepared.

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili Cumin Butter

4 cobs of corn in the husk

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) – room temperature

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Gallon of water – 3 tablespoons salt

Juice of one lime

Kitchen string – make sure it is wet or it will burn when placed on the grill

To prepare the corn, soak cobs, husks and all, in salt water for approximately 1/2 hour. In the meantime mix the chili and cumin with butter either by hand or using a food processor. Peel back the husks but do not remove them. Rub each cob down with the flavored butter (you will have some butter left over). Wrap the corn back in the husk. If needed, use wet string to keep the husk in place. Place the corn cobs directly on the hot grill, turn every 5 minutes. The corn will steam in the husk; cook for approximately 20 minutes, peel, spritz with fresh lime juice and enjoy!

Grilled Whitefish

Place the fish on the grill when the corn is halfway finished. Both dishes should be finished around the same time.

4 whitefish filets

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Juice of two lemons

Feel free to cut the filets in half so they are easier to handle when grilling. Before placing the whitefish on the heat, rub the fish down on both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spritz each filet with the juice of the lemon. Make sure the coals are white hot. Place the filets on the grill skin side down; cook for approximately 5 minutes. Flip once, cook for about 4 more minutes and remove from the heat. Do not flip more than one time, they may crumble.

To Serve:

Place the whitefish on the plate – top with a spoonful or two of pico de gallo. Pair with the spicy corn, and this combo is light, fresh, flavorful and delicious!

Finish this meal with some fresh crusty bread. Slice and warm on the grill, use the left over chili butter as a spread! Bon Appetit!