We can hardly believe the first two months of summer are in the rear-view mirror. Regardless of constraints imposed by the pandemic, we hope you’ve enjoyed some epic meals cooked over live fire or in your smoker. Of course, summer’s not done yet! There’s plenty to look forward to in August, from sun-ripened tomatoes to just-picked sweet corn, Hatch chiles, summer squash, and new potatoes. If you don’t tend a vegetable garden, please support your local farmers’ markets. Now fire up your grills and smokers!
9 Recipes to Grill or Smoke This August
Did you miss National Mojito Day—July 11? No worries. This refreshing libation of Cuban origin is perfect for the dog days of summer. Popularized in the U.S. by Ernest Hemingway, mojitos were first concocted to ward off illness. (Just what we need right now.) They take their name from the African word for “magic,” mojo. If you can’t find key limes, substitute regular limes. The key to a great mojito is to muddle the mint vigorously to release its flavorful oils.
Talk about a reason to get up in the morning! These brawny burgers—keto-friendly if you forgo the English muffin—leave fast-food breakfast sandwiches in the dust. They take a little time to assemble and cook; we like to prep them the night before, then cover and chill. Find variations here.
Steven first published a recipe for elote (Mexican street corn) in 2003 in his seminal book, BBQ USA. Today, it’s wildly popular. And no wonder. Sweet corn, caramelized by the high dry heat of the grill, is slathered with mayo, dusted with chili powder and crumbled Cotija cheese, then drizzled with fresh lime juice. Serve it with your favorite grilled meats or eat on its own for a simple vegetarian supper.
For most of us, the closest we can come to making great pizza at home—the kind with a fire-blistered crust and well-chosen toppings—is our outdoor grill, fueled by charcoal, wood, gas, or pellets. Here, Steven shares the basic technique. While no special equipment is mandatory, we do find a large spatula and/or a pizza peel to be helpful when maneuvering the crust from one side of the grill to the other.
Grilled watermelon lends jewel-like color and incomparable flavor and texture to this beautiful summer salad. If desired, use a mix of red and yellow watermelon (preferably seedless), or even wedges of other melons, such as cantaloupe or honeydew. The ginger-lime dressing will become one of your favorites.
Steven was so impressed with this regional favorite from a county in Southern Kentucky, he wrote a story about it for the New York Times. (If you’re a subscriber, you can read it here. Featuring cross-cut pork shoulder steaks—also known as blade steaks—and a tangy and potentially incendiary vinegar-based dip, this preparation will prove not all pork butt has to be pulled.
One of our favorite mid-August indulgences is Hatch chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. The season lasts just weeks, but we make it a point to use grill-roasted, Hatch chiles (mild or hot—we love them both) in or on everything from eggs to burgers to these healthy-ish bean and cheese rellenos.
Steven redefined “steak” in Episode 1, Season 3 of Project Smoke, by demonstrating what you could do with sushi-grade tuna loin. Your local fish monger may carry it (call ahead), but if not, there are several online sources, including the venerable Fulton Fish Market, in business since 1822 in the Bronx. A cut like this, served with a rich green peppercorn sauce, will make any occasion special. Steven recommends searing the tuna on a plancha or cast-iron griddle, but you can cook it directly on the grill grate, too.
Here it is—a s’more that’s sophisticated enough to impress your guests while conjuring campfire memories. The word “premium” guides your choice of ingredients—a gooey, chewy chocolate brownie, best-quality dark chocolate, and even gourmet marshmallows—all roasted on a fragrant cedar plank. Accompany with coffee, cognac, or your favorite liqueur.