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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Grilling up some fresh summertime ingredients

Marc Bouchard

I’m always looking for unusual dishes that take advantage of freshest seasonal produce and my desire to use my grill as much as possible. The following are examples, par excellence.

This grilled salad offers color, contrast and crunch. It looks so beautiful, you’ll want to take a picture. ...

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I’m always looking for unusual dishes that take advantage of freshest seasonal produce and my desire to use my grill as much as possible. The following are examples, par excellence.

This grilled salad offers color, contrast and crunch. It looks so beautiful, you’ll want to take a picture.

While it tastes terrific by itself, it’s even better when served alongside shrimp, chicken or pork chops hot off of the grill. By the way, if you find the bitterness of radicchio off-putting, substitute two hearts of romaine lettuce, sliced lengthwise into four wedges.

FYI: If your grill’s grates are thin or widely spaced, you could have problems with the peaches falling through. Use a vegetable basket to prevent this problem.

GRILLED PEACH AND RADICCHIO SALAD

2 peaches, medium-ripe

2 heads of radicchio

2 Tbsp. oil

4 Tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola
or other blue cheese

4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp. balsamic vinegar

4 tsp. slivered almonds

Salt

Pepper

Halve and pit the peaches, then slice each half into four or five slices. Slice each radicchio in half top-to-bottom starting at the root end, then each half into four slices. Lightly toss the peaches and radicchio with the oil, and season with a healthy pinch each of salt and pepper.

Heat grill to medium. Grill peaches until they are hot and nicely marked, but still firm. Barely grill radicchio until just showing signs of grill marks.

Place equal portions of radicchio on a plate, topped with equal amounts of peaches. Garnish with gorgonzola, olive oil, balsamic and almonds. Serves four.

I grill shrimp all the time, because they’re so delicious and so darn easy. But once in a while I want to up the ante, and that’s what this recipe is all about.

It’s an adaptation of an old “Top Chef” recipe – basically a riff on the classic Southern shrimp ’n’ grits, but with more punch. Yes, it’s a little more work, but it’s awesome!

Making a chipotle pepper sauce is easy, especially since you can buy the canned peppers packed in adobo sauce in the Mexican section of the store. But you have to remember that those peppers are blazing hot!

Best to start off slowly with just one pepper, and add more only if you need to. A couple of drops of liquid smoke are a sneaky way to increase the smokiness of the sauce without adding to the capsicum count.

Making grits is like making oatmeal or polenta. Just stir, stir, stir, and they’ll come out right.

Grits too thin? Cook a little more. Too thick? Just add more milk.

GRILLED SHRIMP WITH BACON AND GRITS

12 jumbo (16/20 size) shrimp,
peeled, deveined, tail-on

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. oil

6 slices bacon, cut in half
crosswise

1 chipotle pepper, canned

1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce (optional: liquid smoke, more
chipotles)

2 ears local corn, cleaned

1 red bell pepper, stemmed,
halved and seeded

1 Tbsp. oil

1½ cups milk

1½ cups chicken stock or
water

1 cup quick grits

½ cup grated cheddar
cheese

Sprigs of cilantro

Salt

Pepper

In a bowl, toss shrimp with 2 Tbsp. of oil, minced garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Wrap each shrimp with half a slice of bacon. Cover and refrigerate.

In a blender, puree chipotle pepper and tomato sauce. Taste and add salt, pepper, more chipotle or a couple drops of liquid smoke to taste. When satisfied, pour sauce into a pan and warm over a low burner.

Heat your grill to medium. Brush corn and pepper with 1 Tbsp. oil and grill until lightly browned, about five minutes. Peel off any burnt skin on peppers. When cool, cut kernels off corn cobs and dice pepper.

In a thick-bottomed pot, heat milk and stock until simmering. Slowly pour in grits, whisking constantly. Simmer for five minutes until it begins to thicken. Add corn kernels, diced peppers, cheese and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Drop heat to very low.

Place shrimp on the grill and cook until bacon is crispy and shrimp are white, about 5-6 minutes.

Spoon a portion of grits onto a plate. Drizzle a small ladle of chipotle sauce around grits, and stick three shrimp, tails upright, into the grits. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro. Serves four.

This last dish has absolutely nothing to do with the grill, but it’s such a great warm weather snack, I couldn’t resist including it.

If you’re a fan of the sushi experience, but lack the patience to make the rice and rolls, then something like a tuna or salmon tartare is perfect for you. The flavors are so fresh, and yet the recipe is so easy.

It’s important that you add the lemon juice only at the last minute. Otherwise, the acid will “cook” the tuna and turn it mushy.

SICILIAN TUNA TARTARE

12 oz. fresh raw yellowfin
tuna, no bloodlines or
gristle

1-2 tsp. capers

1-2 tsp. sliced black olives

2 tsp. minced red onion

2 tsp. minced fresh mint
leaves

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed
lemon juice

4 leaves of lettuce

Salt

Pepper

On a very clean surface, slice tuna into a dice. Combine it in a chilled bowl with capers, olives, red onion and mint leaves. Toss.

Just before serving, add the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto lettuce leaves. Serves four.

Caution: Handling and serving raw seafood requires rules and common sense. Anyone who is considered “at risk,” notably the very young, very old or medically challenged, should avoid it. Start with only the freshest fish. Freeze the fish overnight to kill any parasites. Defrost the fish in the refrigerator. Use a sterilized cutting board and knife, and wash them immediately after each use.

Marc Bouchard, of Hudson, is executive chef at Stellina Restaurant in Watertown, Mass. Reach him c/o Encore, The Telegraph, 17 Executive Drive, Hudson, NH 03051.