Stepping Out

Fire up the grill

Warmer days means it's time to get some 'cue going


Summertime is soon headed our way, when the grillin’ is easy.

If the idea of longer, warmer days has you reaching for the tongs, it’s time to get your grilling game on before the season is in full swing.

With Memorial Day weekend around the corner or whether you just want to enjoy being outdoors with family and friends, forgo the oven and step on outside to the grill.

Serving your gang the most mouth-watering grilled entrees with ease requires a little know-how and some crowd-pleasing recipes. From versatile chicken to hearty ribs to tender seafood, get creative and incorporate new flavors into your grilled cuisine.

For the best results on the grill, keep these tips in mind:

Get ready before you light up: Even more than with indoor cooking, grilling requires you to be prepared. Mise en place is everything. Have your tools, meat, vegetables, brushes, platter, cutting boards, utensils, sauces, sides, and condiments ready before you light up. Make sure you are ready when the grill is.

Clean those grates: A hot grill is easier to clean. Once its up to temp, use a wire brush on the grates. Finish it with a wipe of oil and you are all set.

Vary the heat: Not all heat is created equal. Keep one part of the grill hot, another cooler. This way, nothing gets overcooked.

Know when it’s done: For non-stick grilling, let your food get good and hot (and get those enticing grill marks) before you try to flip it over.

Pause for flavor: Don’t press or poke the food. You’re just squeezing out the all the juices and flavor the marinade was supposed to provide.

Give it a rest: Don’t eat right away. For maximum flavor and juiciness, give meats at least a 10 minute rest, so the heat and juices equalize.

Find some inspiration with these recipes.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (if thick, cut horizontally into two even pieces)

1 bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce, divided

1/4 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing

4 hard rolls, split

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Lettuce leaves (optional)

Tomato slices (optional)

Red onion rings (optional)

Marinate chicken in 6 ounces Buffalo wings sauce for 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

Mix remainder of Buffalo wings sauce and dressing together. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Grill chicken 12 minutes, turning once, or until no longer pink in center.

Place 2 tablespoons of mixed sauce on each roll half. Place chicken on top of roll half and top with 1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles.

Add lettuce, tomato and onion rings, if desired. Top with second roll half. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.

Sweet Chili Ribs

2 full racks spareribs, trimmed (about 6 pounds)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 bottle (12 ounces) Frank’s RedHot Sweet Chili Sauce, divided

Heat grill to 250° F and prepare for indirect cooking.

Spread ribs with ginger and garlic. Place ribs on rib rack or in foil pan. Cook on covered grill for 2 hours.

Spread 6 ounces sweet chili sauce evenly over ribs then cook another hour, until tender.

Baste ribs with remaining sweet chili sauce during last 15 minutes of cooking. If desired, at end of cooking time grill ribs over direct heat to char slightly.

Sweet ‘n Savory Teriyaki Kabobs

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-1/2 to 2-inch cubes

18 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (1/2 to 3/4 pound)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup prepared mango chutney, chopped if coarse

1/2 cup bottled teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

18 large bamboo or metal skewers (about 12 inches long)

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

2 firm, ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and cut into large cubes

1 large green bell pepper, halved, trimmed, seeded and cubed

Nonstick cooking spray, as needed

Ginger Mango Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Place chicken and shrimp in shallow glass pan or large re-sealable plastic bag. For marinade, combine oil, chutney, teriyaki sauce and vinegar in small bowl with lid. Pour half of marinade mixture over chicken and shrimp. Cover or seal and marinate in refrigerator at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

If using bamboo skewers, soak in water at least l hour before using.

To prepare kabobs: Drain and discard marinade from meat. Thread chicken, yellow and red onion, mango, green pepper and shrimp alternately onto skewers. Be sure to keep enough room at one end of each skewer for a “handle.”

Coat grill grate with nonstick cooking spray. Place skewers over medium coals, and grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until meat is done and vegetables are tender. Brush often with reserved marinade and turn skewers until cooked through. If needed, use spatula to gently loosen skewers before turning as they may stick.

Arrange skewers on a platter and serve with Ginger Mango Dipping Sauce. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Ginger Mango Dipping Sauce

l mango, halved, pitted and scooped out of skin (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)

Combine ingredients in electric blender and puree until smooth. Makes about 1 cup

Kitchen tips:

Onions can be easy to work with, if you follow these tips courtesy of the National Onion Association.

1. Chill onions at least 30 minutes before cutting, and use a sharp knife to reduce tearing.

2. Soak onions in ice water overnight to dampen their flavor, yet keep their crisp, juicy texture.

3. Cut onions can be refrigerated up to 7 days in sealed containers.