Here are three grilling recipes to get you in the outdoor cooking mood.
BODACIOUS BARBECUED CHICKEN BREASTS
Prep time: 20 minutes; marinate: 20 minutes; cook: 15-22 minutes; servings: 4
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons each: packed brown sugar, butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon each: freshly ground black pepper, chili powder
1/2 cup water
3 to 4 tablespoons bourbon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 7 ounces each), pounded to 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1. Combine the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, butter, Worcestershire, mustard, onion powder, salt, pepper, chili powder and water in a medium saucepan; heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer; cook, until thickened lightly, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the bourbon; simmer, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside about half of the sauce to serve with the chicken at the table.
2. Place the chicken in a zipper-top plastic bag; pour the Worcestershire over it. Add the oil and salt; seal the bag. Toss back and forth to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit at room temperature, 20-30 minutes.
3. Fire up the grill, bringing the temperature to medium. (You can hold your hand over the grill for 4 to 5 seconds.)
4. Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade; blot any moisture on the surface with a paper towel.
5. Grill, uncovered, 10-12 minutes total. Turn three times, rotating the breasts a half turn each time for crisscross grill marks. After each side of the chicken has faced the fire once, begin brushing the sauce over the breasts. The chicken is ready when it is white throughout but still juicy and the sauce is a bit chewy and caramelized in spots. If you wish, leave the chicken on the grill an extra minute or two to get a slightly crusty surface.
6. Serve the breasts whole or thickly sliced and mounded on a platter. Pass the reserved sauce on the side.
Nutrition per serving: 294 calories, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 102 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 35 g protein, 707 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
COCONUT-MARINATED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH GREEN ONIONS, PEANUTS
Prep: 25 minutes; marinate: 3 to 8 hours; cook: 20 minutes; servings: 4 to 6
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
Grated zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
1 heaping tablespoon mild curry powder
2 teaspoons mild Spanish paprika
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 Scotch bonnet chili, chopped, or 2 tablespoons Scotch bonnet hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins, 1 pound each, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 green onions, halved lengthwise, finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1. Combine the coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, curry powder, paprika, garlic, ginger, Scotch bonnet chili and black pepper in a bowl. Add the pork; turn to coat in the marinade. Cover; refrigerate, 2-8 hours.
2. Heat your grill to high for indirect grilling. Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking; pat dry with paper towels.
3. Brush the pork with the oil; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste. Put the pork directly over the heat; grill, turning as needed, until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove to the cooler part of the grill (indirect heat); cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 150 degrees, about 12 minutes.
4. Transfer pork to a platter; tent loosely with foil. Let rest, 10 minutes.
5. Combine the green onions, peanuts, cilantro and allspice in a bowl; season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste.
6. Slice the pork across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle with the green onion-peanut topping; serve with hot sauce.
Nutrition per serving: (for 6 servings): 251 calories, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 56 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 437 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.
SPICY SALMON BURGERS
Prep: 15 minutes; chill: 1 hour; cook: 4 minutes; servings: 2 to 4 burgers
Myron Mixon, billed as the "winningest man in competitive barbecue" and a judge on the reality television series "BBQ Pitmasters," recommends chilling the salmon patties for one hour before grilling for easier handling. "Take special care not to overcook them: Juiciness is the key to a good salmon burger," he notes.
1 pound skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon each: fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup prepared tartar sauce
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, optional
2 to 4 sesame seed rolls, split
Red onion slices
4 to 8 Bibb lettuce leaves
1. Place the salmon, egg, lemon juice and mustard in a food processor; pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl; mix in the green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Gently form into two to four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cover; refrigerate, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
2. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together the tartar sauce, dill and lemon zest in a bowl.
3. Grill the rolls until toasted; transfer to plates. Spread the bottom halves generously with the enhanced tartar sauce. Grill the salmon patties uncovered until the fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Place the burgers atop the sauce on the rolls. Top each with onion slices, 2 lettuce leaves and the top half of each roll.
Nutrition per serving: (for 4 servings): 609 calories, 27 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 188 mg cholesterol, 57 g carbohydrates, 31 g protein, 832 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
HERE ARE THREE NEW NO-FRILLS BARBECUE BOOKS
"ALL FIRED UP" by the editors of Southern Living, with Troy Black; Oxmoor, $24.95 (e-book: $9.99 to $10.16)
Southern Living's editors wisely don't choose one section of the South over the other in this book. They offer all the Southern specialties, from pulled pork with the vinegar sauce used in eastern North Carolina to a Memphis dry rub for ribs to an Alabama smoked chicken with its white sauce.
Using clear language and no-nonsense photography, the book teaches you the techniques to master all sorts of outdoor cooking.
"WHERE THERE'S SMOKE" by Barton Seaver; Sterling Epicure, $30
Chef Seaver, the National Geographic Fellow and author of the cookbook "For Cod and Country," is a congenial guide for grill vets and novices.
He weighs in on the charcoal briquette versus lump charcoal debate. He tackles a dozen types of woods and how to manage that smoke. He provides intriguing recipes, from drinks and starters on through sides, meats and poultry and basics (brines, dry rubs, smoke-dried tomatoes).
"THE GRILLING BOOK," edited by Adam Rapoport Andrews McMeel, $45 (e-book: $16.99)
The beauty of Bon Appetit's "The Grilling Book" is in the depth and breadth of its recipe collection. More than 380 recipes are spread among go-to proteins, like beef, chicken and pork, but also the meats less often chosen: fish, seafood, lamb - you'd be hard-pressed to find 22 lamb recipes in most grilling books.
Then there are the vegetables, flatbreads and sides, and nongrilling items, like the 18 boozy drinks.