Grilling Magic: Rubs, Butters, Marinades, Sauces, and Salsas for Easy Gourmet Meals

Chow on 06.15.12
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All Photos: Kelly Rossiter

I have to admit that I have come to grilling fairly late, because I always had my husband do it. I fell for the cliche that the grill was the domain of the man, but in fact, my husband doesn't really cook. After one too many of what a friend of mine calls "burnt offerings" from the grill, I put on my grilling apron and took over.

Now I actually think about recipes for grilling instead of just tossing something onto the barbie. It doesn't take very much effort at all to have something fabulous for dinner. So no matter who does the grilling in your family, here are some easy recipes to make your Father's Day cookout special. Other than the recipe links, all recipes below are from the wonderful Canadian Living Barbeque Collection.

1. Spice Rubs

 It doesn't get any easier than using a spice rub to make your chicken, steak or pork tenderloin fantastic. Not only that, the food looks beautiful when it's cooked. I tried these three on chicken breasts. They are from left to right:

Cajun Spice Mix: 3 tbsp dried thyme; 2 tbsp each paprika and packed brown sugar; 1 tbsp each ground cumin, dry mustard and hot pepper flakes; 1 tsp salt.

Bombay Spice Mix: 3 tbsp each ground coriander and turmeric; 2 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp salt; 1/2 tsp each cayenne pepper and dry mustard.

Mediterranean Spice Mix: 3 tbsp dried rosemary; 2 tbsp each ground cumin and coriander; 1 tbsp dried oregano; 2 tsp cinnamon; 1/2 tsp salt.

Mix the spices and then rub them onto the meat (or tofu!) you are using. Let them marinate for 4 hours or up to one day. If you are in a hurry like I was, moisten the mix with a bit of vegetable oil before rubbing it on and then let it marinate for 15 minutes or so. Our favourite was the Mediterranean spice mix.

The finished product below.

2. Herbed Butters

This is a simple way to finish a beautiful steak or a piece of fish. I bought a strip loin and the butter added a hit of flavour without being overwhelming. Just mix with 1/2 cup of softened butter, then roll it into a log inside some plastic wrap and let it harden in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. They are left to right:

Caper Mustard Butter: 2 tbsp each drained capers and Dijon mustard; 1/2 tsp lemon rind; 1 tsp lemon juice.

Horseradish Butter: 4 tsp prepared horseradish and 1/4 tsp black pepper

Here is one I didn't try, for beef, lamb or fish:

Anchovy Butter: 1/4 cup minced green onions; 4 anchovy fillets, drained and mashed, 1 clove garlic, minced; 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind.

The finished product below.

3. Marinades

This marinade for korean ribs covers both marinades and barbeque sauces because you use it for both. Like most marinades, this has to be made ahead of time, so give yourself plenty of time to get that food marinating.This makes a lot, so feel free to cut the recipe in half, but honestly, the kids will love it so you could make the whole thing and use it on chicken or even burgers over the summer. It will last in the refrigerator for 6 months.

Korean Rib Marinade: In a saucepan, combine 4 cups soy sauce; 2 cups sugar (I thought this was a lot, so you could cut back on that if you like); 1 cup sake; 1 cup mirin; 2 apples, unpeeled and uncored; 2 onions, thinly sliced; 10 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced; 2 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced; 30 black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is reduced by 1/3, 40 to 50 minutes. Cover; let stand overnight. at room temperature. Strain.

Hands down, the best marinade I have ever used for lamb is this lemon, rosemary and garlic marinade. It is always a success, and I always love it. I usually use it for leg of lamb for special occasions (like Father's Day!), but you could use it for chops, or any kind of roast as well.

My daughter's favourite barbeque treat is salmon marinated in miso and ginger. It's very simple to make and it's full of flavour. I've done it both on the barbeque and broiled in the oven. The salmon develops a beautiful mahogany colour and it's a very attractive dish.

4. Barbeque Sauce

These are the korean ribs that marinated in the recipe given above. I also brushed the marinade on as they were cooking. This is a totally different cut of meat, the ribs are cut in a long slice with a big long piece of meat. They were really tasty, but I didn't marinate them long enough and they were a bit chewy.

There are so many commerical barbeque sauces available that it's pretty easy just to pick one up at the grocery store, but homemade really is better. I made a tomato based sauce for my daughter a couple of years ago, and it was really worth the effort.

I've used this Chinese plum sauce as a dipping sauce, but it would make a great barbeque sauce for pork tenderloin.

5. Salsa

You can make a salsa out of just about any vegetable you like. You can serve them with meats, with tofu, even with grilled vegetables.

The photo above is of a cherry tomato salsa: 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved; 2 tbsp olive oil; 1/2 tsp salt; 3 tbsp dill pickle;  2 tbsp onion, minced; 1 clove garlic minced; 2 tsp red wine vinegar; 1/2 tsp oregano; 1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes; 1/4 tsp black pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with oil and roast at 450F for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer tomato and juices to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Here is a green chili, cilanatro salsa that is fantastic on potatoes, but you could use it on chicken or fish as well.

I loved this salsa verde. I served it on cauliflower, but it would be great with steak, lamb, chicken, tofu or fish.

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