Cooking on the Grill: Burgers, Barbecue and Beyond

Learn the secrets of grilling chicken, beef, vegetables, seafood, and burgers perfectly, plus recipes for Jimmy Schmidt's Rattlesnake Ribs, barbecue sauce, BBQ chicken, lamb chops, and grilled corn on the cob.

| June/July 1992

For many years I was firmly of the belief that my best friend Jennifer Lafer's parents invited me out for summer weekends to their home in Manchester, Michigan, for only one reason—I am the queen of the grill.

Sure I knew that my shish kebab was better than most. And I'd heard more than a few times that my BBQ chicken bordered on the divine. And I think I seared a steak or two to such a state that it practically sang my praises louder than the crickets.

But what convinced me that I was loved for my cooking on the grill alone (with a nod to my ability to properly appreciate Detroit Tiger baseball) was a particular rainy July evening. Staring out the screen door, we cursed the coming downpour as I stared at a plate of grill-ready chicken. So much for that, I thought. Wrong. Quicker than I could say "Anyone for fried chicken'?" Jennifer's father had a rain slicker in hand, and her mother an umbrella. There I was, holding the top to the Weber with one hand and attempting to wield a pastry brush and an umbrella in the other. By the end of it all, my juicy drumsticks were drier than I was.

Grilling Chicken, Vegetables, Burgers, Fish, and More

But it's not just the main course that's cooking on the grill today: I haven't met a vegetable yet that didn't benefit from a quick turn over the coals. My favorite combination—sweet peppers, tangy onions, cherry tomatoes, and cloves of garlic (skins on)—makes a perfect side dish anytime. And don't limit yourself to the usual cast of grill characters: zucchini, broccoli (blanch first to retain that wonderful green color), mushrooms, leeks, squash, not to mention one of my favorites, corn-on-the-cob, are all grill-worthy.

Needless to say, my ascension to the throne of Grill Queen was charred by more than my share of unintentionally blackened chicken (that remained undercooked inside), fish that either stuck to the grill or fell right through it (!), dry burgers and tough steaks. So from those experiences, a few grilling tips:

Those super-convenient skinless, boneless chicken breasts become nothing short of tasteless when grilled. Yes, I'll make a few into quick sandwiches and they can be nicely sauced, but when it comes time for a serious BBQ, nothing but chicken on the bone will do, thank you.

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