Shrimp and turkey on the barbie

Food

June 01, 2008|By SANDRA PINCKNEY

Every Fourth of July, my folks had a bash at their home in Massachusetts. It was one of the few times of the year that family and friends from all over would come together.

I remember Grandma would have on a dress and hose, my hippie Uncle Skip wore a crazy hat he would dig up for the occasion, and Aunt Alice, who could make you laugh with just a glance, sat out on the lawn in one of those brightly colored, aluminum-framed lawn chairs.

Dad would organize croquet matches, my brothers would set off drugstore fireworks, and Mom took charge of everything else.

The center of it all, of course, was the grill, and for years we had the traditional fare. Then one Fourth of July, my mother decided to grill two turkeys.

She didn't know how this would go over with the family, so she had burgers and hot dogs as a backup.

She seasoned the turkeys simply -- just salt and pepper, onion and garlic salt -- and cooked them slowly on two Weber grills.

The results were amazing. The meat was crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and the birds tasted nothing at all like Thanksgiving turkeys.

The hamburgers and hot dogs were barely touched, but the turkeys were picked clean.

I've since discovered that few foods are not made more delicious when cooked on the grill.

Several summers ago, I hosted the Charlotte Shout Culinary Extravaganza, featuring chefs from all over the country and an audience of eager foodies who gathered for several days of cooking and feasting in North Carolina.

Most of the dishes the chefs presented were outstanding, but the grilled shrimp on sugar-cane skewers was the showstopper.

The shrimp were first marinated in a lime-juice mixture, then basted with a Mount Gay (dark rum) glaze. But chef Steve Raichlen, a grilling authority and host of Barbecue University on PBS, didn't stop there. He created skewers from sugar cane, first by peeling a 12-inch piece of cane, then cutting it in half crosswise and then slicing each half lengthwise and sharpening one end into a point. The skewers added sweetness and they were edible.

A perfect complement to the shrimp or the grilled turkey is a hearty summer salad created by chef Steve Ishmael, with orzo, spinach and feta cheese. If you have not tasted orzo, give this recipe a try. A rice-shaped pasta, orzo is delicious served hot or at room temperature as a salad.

By the way, if you want to try grilling a turkey this summer, I've included one of my favorite marinades.

Bon appetit.

Shrimp on Skewers

Serves 4

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper

4 to 5 cloves crushed garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (24 to 30), cleaned and shelled

GLAZE:

1/2 cup dark-brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup dark rum (Mount Gay)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

salt to taste

FOR SKEWERS:

12 skewers or three 12-inch pieces of sugar cane to make your own (see note)

In a mixing bowl, combine salt, pepper, crushed garlic, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Add shrimp. Cover. Marinate in refrigerator while you prepare glaze and light the fire.

Combine the sugar, butter, rum, mustard, vinegar, cinnamon and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the mixture until thick and syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Correct the seasoning, adding pepper and salt to taste.

Skewer shrimp. The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

Grill the shrimp kebabs until cooked, 2 to 3 minutes per side, generously basting each with glaze. Serve any remaining glaze as a sauce on the side.

Note: To make sugar-cane skewers, cut each piece of sugar cane in half crosswise and then slice each half lengthwise and sharpen one end into a point.

Per serving: 529 calories, 29 grams fat, 15 grams saturated fat, 319 milligrams cholesterol, 31 grams carbohydrate, 35 grams protein, 427 milligrams sodium

Grilled Turkey

Serves 16

Remove turkey from marinade. Scrape off excess marinade and discard. (Do not use marinade for basting.) Turn wings back to hold neck skin in place. Return legs to tucked position. Sprinkle salt and pepper on turkey and in the cavity.

If cooking on a charcoal grill, use indirect heat to grill the turkey. Prepare the grill by removing top grill rack and opening all vents. Mound 50 to 60 briquettes in center of the lower grill rack or the bottom of grill and ignite them. When coals become ash-gray, after about 20 to 40 minutes, divide them into two equal parts, positioned on the outside edges of lower grill rack or bottom of grill.

Place a foil drip pan or a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil between the two piles of coals.

Lightly grease the top grill rack before repositioning it on the hot coals. Place the prepared turkey in the middle of the grill rack, directly over drip pan or foil and replace the lid on the grill.

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