Unless you relish brushing snow off your grill, our outdoor cooking season is pretty much a flash in the pan.
To make the most of it, Rachel Hutton, senior editor at Minnesota Monthly magazine, shares some ideas for creative grillables that go beyond the usual burgers and brats.
Tom Crann: So do you have beef with burgers?
Rachel Hutton: A classic ground-beef burger is a terrific way to kick off the summer, but after you've had a few I'd also encourage experimenting with pattying other types of meat, such as lamb, turkey, salmon, pork, or making your own bean-and-grain veggie burgers.
The current Real Food magazine, which you can pick up free from Lunds and Byerly's has a lot of great alterna-burger recipes.
Tom Crann: Where do you like to shop for grillables?
Rachel Hutton: One of my favorite butcher shops is Clancey's in Linden Hills. The staff there has introduced me to all sorts of meats I would have never considered grilling -- from goat chops, which look like mini-T-bones, or offal-chicken hearts, livers and such, threaded onto skewers and grilled.
Tom Crann: That sounds a little edgy for some.
Rachel Hutton: If you want something a little more familiar, see if Clancey's has charcoal steak. It's a lesser-known cut from the top of the chuck; the same muscle as a flatiron steak, just crosscut. It's more tender than what you'd expect for a cut coming from the animal's shoulder area and it has a rich, buttery flavor. The steak will have a piece of connective tissue running down the middle, which is the reason for its low price. But if you can overlook that inconvenience, it's a terrific value.
Tom Crann: How do you know the method for cooking all these things?
Rachel Hutton: The staff at Clancey's are great about giving preparation suggestions. Awhile back I picked up a couple of monster, two-inch thick T-bones for a celebratory dinner and took the butcher's recommendation to cook them for a few minutes on each side to sear the meat and then tip them up vertically for the last few minutes to get the cooking to finish evenly.
Tom Crann: What about those who don't eat red meat?
Tom Crann: Do you have ideas for grilling vegetables?
Rachel Hutton: There are all sorts of cool ways to grill vegetables. You can slice a head of cauliflower into thick slabs and grill them like steaks. You can slice eggplant thinly lengthwise and grill those pieces -- put a dollop of herbed goat cheese on each one and roll 'em up.