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Appetites: Go beyond burgers and brats this grilling season

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Charlotte Smith works behind the counter helping customers select cuts of beef, lamb, goat and pork or homemade sausages Sunday, May 26, 2013 at Clancey's Meats and Fish in Minneapolis. The Linden Hills neighborhood butcher shop often buys whole animals from local farmers and can provide specific cuts of meat for customers.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

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.

Mike Veazey weighs steaks for a customer Sunday, May 26, 2013 at Clancey's Meats and Fish in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

• Photos: Clancey's Meats and Fish

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.

Grilled goat
Grilled goat loin chops from Clancey's Meats and Fish Monday, May 27, 2013 in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Tom Crann: What about those who don't eat red meat? 

 Rachel Hutton: Try grilling a whole fish. I like whole trout from Star Prairie Trout Farm, which are often available whole at the co-ops, or you can try Coastal Seafoods.

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.

In working on the magazine's current summer food issue, I got a lot of great ideas for grilling produce from local author Tricia Cornell and her recent cookbook "Eat More Vegetables."