Courtesy of Nike Communications
I have a Fourth of July confession. I am Southern enough that one of my top five foods is barbecue or anything grilled, but I am belle enough that I do not like to get behind the grill and have my hair and makeup ruined for the day. I will prepare the food, sauces, side dishes, and dessert, but when the first person offers to stand in the smoke, I quickly hand over my tongs. If you think grilling is a "guy's game" and there is always a man at the helm of the grill, well ... think again. While you are pondering that question, you might also think barbecue is just a Southern treasure.
Well, I am happy to report there are two chefs who are going to change your mind on these two topics and you will be glad they have. The two names you need to remember are Elizabeth Karmel and Steven Raichlen. They have made me think about picking up my grilling tongs again.
If you are ready to light up the grill for the Fourth, these are the two people to turn to for true knowledge of the world of grilling.
The not-so-demure Southern belle Elizabeth Karmel is driven to get more girls to the grill, and is becoming quite successful at it. This native North Carolinian has proven girls can grill. Chef Karmel is the executive chef at Hill Country, a New York Texas barbecue venue with live music, and she has several books under her belt. She has worked with winemaker Tom Mackey from St. Francis Winery and together they have created "The Girls' Guide to Grilling," downloadable at http://www.stfsavortheflavor.com (and it is free). Elizabeth really captures the essence and simplicity of the art of the American grill. I love her recipe for salt-crusted shrimp, and I think this Fourth of July I will pair it with Steven Raichlen's beef saté.
Steven Raichlen will open your eyes to a global world of barbecue with his new book, Planet Barbecue!. He has over 300 recipes from 60 countries. Steven, like Elizabeth, pays tribute to North Carolina barbecue with his recipe for Keith Allen's North Carolina Pork Shoulder, but he also takes you way beyond, on one exotic journey after another. Elizabeth and Steven share the ability to teach technique in their books that would make anyone a better grill cook. If you are ready to light up the grill for the Fourth, these are the two people to turn to for true knowledge of the world of grilling—whether you are a guy or a girl.
Elizabeth has shared with me her recipe for salt-crusted shrimp and Steven his recipe for beef saté. Steven covers the history of grilled dishes from exotic places with such depth and passion that reading his grill book is like reading the latest page-turner off the New York Times bestseller list. It has been a long time since I picked up a cookbook I could not put down. He writes:
Satés in Singapore play the same role as hot dogs in New York, a popular, affordable, and democratic street snack enjoyed at all hours of the day and night by rich and poor and everyone in between. So to have your saté named the best in Singapore by The Straits Times (think The New York Times of Southeast Asia) is no small accomplishment. These satés were first served at the restaurant Wood, which featured Asia's first, and only, exclusively wood-burning kitchen (wood-burning grill, oven, smoker, and rotisserie). But even if you cook on a gas grill, the robust spicing of these satés will blast through loud and clear. For centuries Singapore and the Strait of Malacca were the epicenter of the Asian spice trade; the legacy lives on in these electrifying satés.
While we are approaching grilling with a new outlook, let's think about putting the beer on ice and coming up with the right wine for your Fourth of July barbecue. Winemaker Tom Mackey from St. Francis Winery in Sonoma California has a great list of rules for how to pair wine with grilled food.
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS of GRILLED FOOD and WINE PAIRING
Too many people are intimidated by wine—whether it be navigating a wine shop or choosing the right wine to pair with dinner. Remember, wine can only enhance your dining experience. Here are a few friendly tips from winemaker from Tom Mackey to demystify common food and wine pairing hesitations so you can focus on what's important—eating and drinking!
1. There are no rules! The most important thing to remember when all else fails is drink what you like.
2. Easy rule of thumb—generally speaking—light-bodied wines come from white wine grapes and pair well with chicken, seafood and grilled veggies. St. Francis' big, bold, fruit-forward red wines are perfect for grilled foods because of rich tannins that give structure and depth. Full-bodied red wines enhance the flavors in most types of meat and freshly grilled pizzas.
3. Food and wines with shared characteristics typically go well together. For example, a salt and pepper encrusted filet mignon tastes fabulous with a peppery zinfandel like the St. Francis "Old Vines" Zinfandel. It wouldn't make sense to match very mild foods, like Dover Sole, with a big, flavorful wine because it will overpower the subtle flavors in the fish.
4. Opposites can attract—serving a slightly sweeter wine offsets the spiciness in a dish. For example, St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay is great when paired with spicy Asian dishes.
5. Play matchmaker. An easy way to find a winning combination is to match the texture and intensity of food with an equally complex or simple wine. For instance, a basic shrimp scampi is really nice with Chardonnay, but adding hot red pepper and garlic makes Zinfandel a better match because the spicy notes in the wine complement the spicy pepper notes in the dish.
6. Forget the adage that you must serve white wine with fish. Try a grilled smoked salmon fillet or swordfish steak with an elegant red wine, like St. Francis Sonoma County Merlot, and you'll be a convert!
7. Dry (tannic) wines work best with high-protein food, like steak and aged cheese! Plus tannins help cleanse the palate of fats making your wine a refreshing complement to your meal. For example, tannins in the fruit forward, full bodied St. Francis Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon stand up to a great grilled steak to make an excellent pairing.
8. A luscious wine, like St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay, will complement very rich foods. Another option is full-flavored wines with high acidity to cut through the oils in the dish.
9. Acids pair with acids—think about it this way: would you squeeze lemon or lime into a glass of creamy milk?
10. When you are drinking more than one type of wine with a meal, keep this suggestion in mind: white wine goes before red and lighter wines before heavier to help your palate adjust.