With Memorial Day weekend at hand and lots of graduation parties planned for the following weekend, grills are going to be getting a workout.
Hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks are among the most popular items for grilling. But don't limit yourself.
Poultry and pork, too, make budget-conscious meats from the grill. And, since you're already heating up the grill, why not grill cut-up veggies or fruit? The heat will caramelize the sugars, making these healthy foods taste even sweeter.
Also, kids who may shy away from veggies served plain may see skewered veggies as more fun and festive and sample what they otherwise would reject.
If you're using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them well in water before loading on meats, veggies or fruit. For young children, let them pick out which skewer of food is theirs at the table, then remove the food from the skewer onto their plates rather than leaving a child with a spiky implement.
Brushing virgin olive oil on foods on the skewer before grilling helps keep them from sticking to the grill.
Also consider the grill for warming up garlic bread wrapped in foil. Or cook par-boiled, then cut-up potatoes in foil on the grill.
Want to grill a burger that goes beyond the usual? Check out the Sunday, May 24, print edition of The Billings Gazette for the Parade magazine insert, which features grilled-burger ideas from celebrity chef Bobby Flay. He'a got ideas for a Pimiento Cheese & Bacon Burger, a Green-chili Burger and his own Bobby's Basic Burger. He also gives some hot tips to add variety to your burger.
Also look for a feature on "Sunny Day Sundaes" with recies for Banana Splits, Caramel Affogato Sundaes with an espresso kick and, my choice, Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes. Kids love such concoctions for their color and flavor, and they're great opportunities to include more dairy and fruits in youngsters' diets.
In the Wednesday, June 3, print edition of The Gazette, the monthly Relish magazine insert features a variety of recipes, including some "Quick Pasta Tosses" that would be good side dishes for your grill nights or any warm-weather meals.
And look for the recipe for a sweet, but healthy Raspberry Fool as well as five easy sides for your grilled dinners, including an Asian Cucumber Salad, Mango Ginger Relish and more.
And, now, back to the idea of chicken on the grill.
The following story from The Associated Press gives you hints on keeping chicken from becoming too dry when you're grilling and includes a recipe for distinctive Peanut butter-chutney Barbecued Chicken. The recipe uses one of the more inexpensive options for buying chicken, the thighs, so it could be multiplied easily to serve a crowd on a budget.
Here's the story:
Keeping grilled chicken moist
By JIM ROMANOFF
Browned and crispy skin gives chicken mouthwatering flavor and, unfortunately, anywhere between 50 and 75 percent of its fat.
That's why most health-conscious cooks remove the skin and trim any visible fat before cooking.
But that's often at the expense of flavor and moistness.
The good news is that leaving the skin on during cooking, then removing it before eating, doesn't add fat to the meat and helps produce chicken that is more moist and tender.
One caveat is that any seasonings or sauces you rub or drizzle onto the chicken before or during cooking will get tossed along with the skin. The best way to avoid that is to gently tuck seasonings under the skin.
If you still would prefer to remove the skin, a good alternative is to baste the chicken with a glaze during cooking.
This peanut butter-chutney barbecued chicken uses this approach. But, because it is grilled, there is an added par-cooking step to ensure that the sweet glaze won't burn before the chicken is fully cooked.
The recipe calls for chicken thighs with the bones in, which add flavor and also help to keep the chicken moist. Thigh meat is quite succulent and tends to dry out less than breast meat, especially when grilled over high heat.
The sweet and savory glaze is made with jarred mango chutney, which adds spicy, vinegary notes to the smooth and salty peanut butter.
To complete the meal, serve with basmati rice and baby sweet peas and pearl onions.
PEANUT BUTTER-CHUTNEY BARBECUED CHICKEN
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
12 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed of fat (about 4 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 375 F.
To make the sauce, chop any large chunks in the chutney (brands vary). In a medium bowl, whisk together the chutney, peanut butter, soy sauce and vinegar. Set aside.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a gas grill to medium-high or prepare a charcoal fire.
Remove the chicken from the oven and brush with the peanut butter-chutney sauce. Grill the chicken, turning and basting frequently, until well browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 331 calories; 127 calories from fat; 14 g. fat (3 g. saturated; 0 g. trans fats); 161 mg. cholesterol; 8 g. carbohydrate; 41 g. protein; 1 g. fiber; 955 m. sodium.