Girl meets grill: Summer grilling recipes

Jul 7, 2009 at 11:34 a.m. ET

In a sea of men and meat, Elizabeth Karmel is a premier pitmistress and one saucy gal. Her succulent cookbook Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned: A Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill is a must-have grilling guide for any woman (or man!) wanting to master the summer grill.

Woman and BBQ Grill

Elizabeth Karmel just made summer juicier

The lazy days of summer just got tastier with Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned: A Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill by Elizabeth Karmel (Wiley, 2009). When Hill Country restaurant opened in New York City in 2007 it was hailed as the real thing — even by Texas natives. It's not a surprise considering Karmel hails from the south and, as Steve Raichlen notes on the book's back cover, "was weaned on pulled pork, and has spice and smoke in her bones".

It's all about the heat

Purists may turn their nose at gas grills but Karmel understands we can't all build pits in our backyard and has written her finger-licking cookbook with notes for both gas and coal fires. She starts out by explaining how to build a proper fire, or heat a gas grill, which may sound like a no-brainer but is unmistakably important if you want to cook with indirect heat.

Recipes to satisfy your BBQ cravings

The book's title Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned gets its name from the three main ways to prep or flavor grilled food: soaking, as in a brine bath, and slathering and seasoning, which can be done before grilling, may serve as a marinade or simply be a finishing ingredient. The end result is a grilling cookbook chockfull of mouthwatering recipes that'll satisfy your cravings for authentic 'cue.

Grilling recipes

The following recipes are featured in Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned, courtesy of Wiley.

Espresso Brine

Makes about 2 quarts

Brining enhances the taste and texture of most any meat. In this recipe, Karmel has upped the ante with coffee. Sounds like a win-win to us!

8 cups hot water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black cardamom pods
3 shots strong espresso, or 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water, salt, sugar, peppercorns and cardamom pods to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Add the espresso and stir. Add 2 medium bowls of ice cubes to cool the brine. When brine is cool, pour over food and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Note: Good for soaking pork chops, tenderloin, pork cutlets, chicken pieces and ham steak.

Smoked Tomato sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Based on a classic French sauce, called a coulis, this pureed blend of tomatoes and spices creates a simple, elegant sauce for meat, fish and vegetables.

6 large, ripe (but still firm) tomatoes
2 large shallots, cut in half
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating tomatoes
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

1. Preheat grill to medium-low heat. Coat tomatoes and shallots with olive oil and place in a disposable aluminum tray. Place tray on grill and cook for 1 hour, until tender and skins are bursting on the tomatoes.

2. Add tomatoes and shallots to a blender and puree. When the vegetables are liquefied, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, paprika and fleur de sel and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any large pieces, skin and seeds.

3. Spoon sauce over cooked food just before serving. Remaining sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Note: Good for slathering fish, shellfish, steak, vegetables and savory pancakes.

Mike Mills' Magic Dust

Makes about 2 cups

Anyone familiar with Mike Mills and his Murphysboro, IL championship-winning barbeque will be jumping for joy. Karmel notes this recipe is probably not the whole truth from Mills but it's close enough for her.

1/2 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt, finely ground
1/4 cup Sugarlips
1 tablespoon dry mustard, preferably Coleman's
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The rub will keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Note: Good for seasoning ribs, pulled pork, beef, poultry, vegetables and even popcorn.

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