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Officially or not, Summer is here in Tennessee. It has been 95 + degrees every day for the last 2 weeks. Our mornings are spent outside in the garden or just enjoying the brief cool part of the day, while the hot afternoons are spent in, on or around some kind of water activity. This past week we were enjoying our vacation on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Arkansas. We all spent a lot of time in the pool or on the lake. So much time in fact that I have a tan for the first time since my wedding 7 years ago. Well, it’s more off-white than tan, but at least I won’t be blinding anyone when I walk outside now.
My cooking changes in the Summer, too. Where as in the winter I am trying to pack in as much flavor as I can into the somewhat bland selection of dishes, Summer food doesn’t require much help in the flavor department. It’s easier, simpler and generally more delicious. A little oil, salt and pepper can carry just about any summer dish into the realm of edible beauty leaving the cook ( that’s me) plenty of time to enjoy the late afternoon sunset and an ice cold beer or glass of wine.
Obviously, Summer is all about grilling and there are 3 ingredients that go in just about every grilled dish I do; Olive oil, Salt and Pepper. Honestly, you can make a fantastic dinner with no other seasoning for your meal. Any extra flavor can be simply added by throwing in some fresh or dried herbs and maybe some citrus or some garden-ripe tomatoes. Case in point, our dinner last night. We had grilled chicken legs, grilled skewered potatoes, grilled asparagus and grilled bread. Every thing was covered in a healthy amount of olive oil, salt and pepper and then I added a little extra flavor with lemon zest and some dried basil and dried thyme to the chicken and potatoes. The result was an easy, rustic meal that everyone enjoyed, even my two 4 year olds.
So these recipes are a little different than usual.I have opted not to use any formal measurements. These are perfect dishes for you to use your eyeball here. In general I like to use a pretty healthy dose of salt for the chicken and the potatoes since they really taste much better with plenty of salt.
Dinner on the Grill
8 chicken legs, skin on
5 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of woody stems
Loaf of crusty bread
1 handful of chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley or thyme or a palm full of dried
5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
fresh ground pepper
Start your grill and set it up for indirect cooking.
Meanwhile,bring a pot of water to a boil and par-cook the potatoes for 5 minutes or until they are just starting to give. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, salt, pepper, some fresh herbs and zest of lemon. Arrange potatoes on metal or bamboo skewers adding a clove of garlic on each skewer. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together chicken, salt, pepper, oil, herbs, zest of lemon and juice of lemon. Set aside.
In another dish, toss asparagus with… you guessed it… oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise and drizzle with…. wait for it…. oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Prep your grill by brushing the grate with a well oiled rag. Then, place chicken legs and potatoes on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until done. About 20-25 minutes. While the chicken is resting, cook the asparagus over the hot coals turning often until they are tender, about 7-10 minutes. Next, grill the bread on both sides until well toasted, about 3 minutes.
Pile everything on a plate and enjoy!!