Skip to main content

Native Cooking

This time of year, two nice days in a row and that's all most people need
to move the kitchen outside. From a high rise apartment balcony to the vast
prairie, up into high country and off in the suburbs, barbeque and grilling
time is gripping the collective conscience in ever more creative ways.

In a tight apartment with a small balcony you can use a small hibachi cast
iron cooker on a cookie sheet. Wonderful little stove for one or two
people. Other units like the kettle-type charcoal burning Weber-grill are
good because they smoke foods as well as grill them. Smoking is
interesting, more later.

The gas grill seems most popular these days, but I find it not too
different from my gas stove, just that it's outside. Well, it can be used
for smoking too, and that is a plus since my stove can't do that. The
ultimate outdoor cooking unit is a fireplace you build yourself with stone
and different cooking levels, plus good chimney vents, as well as side
counters for placing hot pans. A word of caution if you like to smoke meats
and fish. Do not throw wood chips directly on the rocks of a gas grill
because the ash can clog the gas jet holes. For a regular charcoal grill,
soak the wood chips in water for a half hour, then drain and put directly
on the hot charcoal. Hardwood chips like hickory and mesquite are best, but
you an also use flavored woods like maple, cherry, apple, even grapevine.
For a change of pace, use herb branches from rosemary or sage, for example.

Skewered Lamb & Beef

2 pounds of lamb, cut in 1-and-1/2 inch chunks

2 pounds of beef or bison cut in 1 and 1/2 inch chunks

2 large onions, quartered or 4 small, peeled

3 green bell peppers, cored and sliced lengthwise

2 medium green or yellow squash, cut in 1-inch rounds

6 large mushrooms

Double the recipe for Basic Marinade (see recipe at the end of this column)
and put the meat in it overnight. When ready to start grilling, skewer the
cubes of meat and place them on a cookie sheet or baking pan with higher
sides. Skewer the vegetables separately and brush them with olive oil. Then
sprinkle them with herbs at this time. Thyme, sage, cumin, rosemary or
basil are good choices. The vegetables should be cooked after the meat is
started since they take so much less time.

Brush the meat with barbeque sauce or just use the marinade to keep it
moist. When the meat is the way you like it, keep it warm and grill the
vegetables. A little of the marinade wouldn't hurt them either. Serve a
chutney with the meat as a dipping sauce.

A Basic Barbeque Sauce

1 tablespoon corn or vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, fine chopped

1 medium onion, fine chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, fine chopped

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed firm

1/2 cup beef broth concentrate (bouillon)

2 cups tomato sauce

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon allspice, salt and pepper

Put all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook down for about 15 minutes.
To make this spicier, add 1/4 teaspoon of cloves and cinnamon. Keep cool in
fridge. It is hard to ruin this barbeque sauce so try things out. Use
pineapple juice in place of bouillon, add the last bit of a bottled
dressing, experiment.

Just as barbeque sauce goes on near the end of cooking, marinades are used
before the cooking, to tenderize and add more flavor.

This marinade is pretty simple and basic. Like the barbeque sauce, it can
be fiddled with as long as there is a combination of something acidic (like
vinegar or a citrus juice), an oil, then a flavoring. Use the ratio of two
parts oil to one part acid.

Basic Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (use the bottled if you have to)

1/2 cup good olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon dried

1 green onion, chopped

1 clove garlic (or more) fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl using a whisk.

for beef, chicken, fish or vegetables, try thyme, or tarragon.

for lamb, use mint, oregano or rosemary.

for shellfish or vegetables, add tarragon, fresh dill or parsley.

for steak, swordfish, tuna or lamb use good balsamic vinegar instead of
lemon juice add a little brown sugar to the basic recipe.