For the weekend we headed upstate to Medusa, New York, where my sister and brother-in-law own five acres in the Catskills. They live in New York City and commute on the weekends to their country property. While continuing their building plans for a Green Home, a very cool 1955 vintage Spartan is where they sleep at this time. They have solar panels for electricity and a well for fresh water. They’ve put in a garden which grows the most amazing organic vegetables, fruits and herbs all summer and well into the fall.
We were invited up to do some grilling and help out with the garden overhaul, getting it ready for spring planting.
Here is the menu I planned for Saturday:
- Grilled 4 pound leg of lamb (boneless and butterflied), marinated in red wine and fresh herbs for 25 hours
- Grilled sweet baby bell peppers
- Grilled pearl onions with Ancho Chile Olive Oil
- Grilled asparagus
- Fresh herb sauce with lemon zest, rosemary, parsley, mint, garlic, chives, shallots and agave
- Grilled baguette slices
Here’s what I did to create this dinner, along with some helpful tips for country grilling:
- The meat should be prepared at least 24 hours in advance. The vegetables should be cleaned, chopped or sliced and wrapped in an air tight Ziploc bag, which makes for easy packing and a roomy cooler.
- Marinate the leg of lamb in a bottle of dry red wine with fresh rosemary, mint, thyme and fresh ground black pepper in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Refrigerate and turn it every ten hours so both sides of the lamb were marinated equally.
- Blanch and peel the pearl onions. Let them cool and add them to a Ziploc bag with a splash of Ancho Chile Olive Oil. Refrigerate.
- Wash the baby sweet bell peppers. Dry them and place in a Ziploc bag, then refrigerate.
- Make herb sauce and seal it tight in a Ziploc bag. Recipe to follow below.
- Bring your favorite chef’s knife and flexible plastic cutting boards for last minute chopping or additions to your meal. I brought two of my thin plastic cutting boards which are flexible and perfect for travel. I use them on Reel Chow jobs all the time.
Prepping the food the day before you leave for a camping trip or country day trip makes outdoor grilling so much easier to do when when all the food is ready to hit the grill. This allows you to spend time enjoying the grilling instead of having to clean and prep in a situation that may not be so space-friendly with tabletops or counter space. In other words, it’s headache prevention!
We love to grill with real fire. Charcoal without accelerant adds the preferred flavor to anything we fire-up on our grill, from vegetables to delicate fish. Grilling food less sturdy than burgers or steaks presents a host of issues associated with their shorter cook time and fragile nature.
One problem we’ve found with grilling things like vegetables and shrimp is there’s simply no way we can turn the items close to the same time, ensuring an even cooking time on both sides across the entire range of items we’re grilling. The solution seems incredibly obvious, but we didn’t think it up. We’ve got the folks at Chef’n to thank for that.
The item which has come to our rescue is the Chef’n Grill’n Barbecue Branch Skewer. Don’t worry. The name is a lot more complicated than using the item itself. Made of stainless steel and wood, this seven-pronged skewer will quickly make your old kebab obsolete.
When you first get your Grill’n Barbecue Branch Skewer, you’ll notice it has some plastic tubing to cover all seven prongs for safety. Save them when you’re using and washing the Branch Skewer, as you can put them back on later when the item is not in use. The Grill’n Barbecue Branch Skewer also has a silicone loop which you can use to hang alongside your other grilling utensils.
We found grilling with the Branch Skewer a breeze. Ron was able to hold the wooden handle right on the grill without it getting hot. We did hang it over the side at times to prevent unnecessary heat while he was doing something else.
The vegetables slide on and off with ease, but we never had any fall off. In short, it seems hard to believe no one else invented and successfully marketed this fifty years earlier.
As you can see, the branch skewer can hold at least double what a straight skewer can.
The charcoal grill was ready and hot. We added the branch skewer and grilled the veggies for about three minutes on each side. The smell of fresh-roasted peppers and onions was overwhelming! When using other skewers I would run into issues of them moving and falling off. With the Chef’n Barbecue Branch Skewer I had no problems! It was simple to use, and simple to clean and most importantly it held a ton of vegetables, so I didn’t have to manage six or ten straight skewers on the grill, as opposed to using a few Branch Skewers to grill just as much. Less cleaning to do at the end of a great country grilling day.
Next on the grill was the leg of lamb marinated in red wine and fresh herbs.
As you can see in the above photo, the branch skewer held more than the two straight skewers next to it.
Dinner was served with a fresh herb sauce to go with the lamb and veggies. It was so fresh tasting, not over-powering and brought out the flavors of the lamb and veggies.
Herb Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup of light extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of rosemary, chopped
- 3 tablespoons of mint, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of chives, chopped
- zest of one lemon
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- a pinch of fresh seal salt
- a drizzle of agave
Whisk all the ingredients together and serve with lamb and grilled veggies.
We really enjoyed our family, our trip, and working out with the Chef’n Grill’n Barbecue Branch Skewer. It was amazing our grandparents never had such a simple and effective utensil available to them. The welding on ours seemed solid and the handle never heated up to an uncomfortable level. Just a little eye-work was all we needed to estimate cooking time.
Grilling season is here, and if you’re doing any outdoor cooking, we can’t recommend this astonishingly simple, yet incredibly effective cooking tool. Bon appétit!