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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

Grill season: Four new ways to cook a memorable holiday meal

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Orange Mint Gremolata. Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Orange Mint Gremolata.
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Usher in a memorable Memorial Day with four new ways to use your outdoor grill.

From simple to more complicated, here are recipes that even the novice cook can prepare. Each involves a common food: mushrooms, lamb chops, walleye, and chicken. With the right combination of ingredients, a new grilling technique, or a special sauce, each will expand your grilling repertoire.

Grilling brings out a special flavor in mushrooms that some call "meaty." The quality in Japanese is known as umami, which enhances the flavor of other foods. Grilled Sherry Mushrooms (see recipe on Page 2) dresses up grilled burgers or can be served over toasted bread as a simple side dish or appetizer. After quick searing on the grill, the mushrooms are tossed with a warm sauce scented with sherry and garlic.

With a fabulous flavor, Grilled Sherry Mushrooms can also be served with grilled strip steaks or sirloin steak. It is a recipe from cookbook authors Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby created for the Mushroom Council.

Mushrooms must be very fresh, especially morels, which can fall apart quickly when tossed in the grill wok, writes Karen Adler and Judith Fertig of Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens (Harvard Common Press, $14.95). They recommend white and porcini mushrooms, which are best with closed caps, or oyster and portobello mushrooms, which have firm gills.

Pricey lamb chops are a special entree for any holiday. The week that The Blade tested Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Orange-Mint Gremolata, prices ranged from $9.99 to $13.99 per pound. Depending on the size, plan on at least two chops per person.

The most economical chops come from the shoulder. Rib chops are the best lamb chops and are expensive. Loin chops contain both the loin and tenderloin section.

Most people prefer lamb medium-rare or medium, but it can also be cooked well-done. For medium-rare, cook to an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees. For medium, cook to 140 to 145 degrees, and for well done, 150 to 160 degrees.

Gremolata is traditionally a garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel, and garlic. Usually it is sprinkled over osso buco to add fresh flavor. In this version, orange zest replaces lemon and mint replaces parsley for a great flavor with grilled lamb chops.

A sporting fish that is a favorite of Toledo-area fishermen, walleye also is popular for upper midwestern lake anglers, Ms. Adler and Ms. Fertig write in their cookbook. Walleye has a delicious, sweet, mild flavor that the BBQ Queens capture in Grilled Walleye with Tangy Red Pepper Sauce and Tapenade-Tossed Linguine.

They recommend an oiled grill rack so the fish won't fall apart on the grill. For weeknight time-saving, use store-bought tubes of anchovy paste and black olive or tapenade paste. Cook the pasta first, then the pepper sauce. It will take less than 10 minutes to grill the walleye.

You can substitute just about any fish fillet for the walleye and even chicken or turkey breasts may be used. Note that very few cookbooks include walleye recipes, so this recipe is a keeper.

Perhaps you want to dabble in producing the smoked flavor of fish or poultry, but you don't want to buy a smoker. Then consider making a disposable smoker.

To set up a disposable smoker, you need two aluminum roasting pans, a rack, and hardwood chips, according to the Culinary Institute of America's Grilling cookbook (Lebhar-Friedman, $35). Dampen the chips or chunks and then make an even layer of them in one of the pans. Set your rack over the chips, and top with the second pan, inverting to make a domed lid.

Put this assembly over direct heat on the grill until you can smell the smoke. Lift off the lid, place the food you want to smoke on the rack, replace the lid, and smoke the food for the length suggested in the recipe.

Recipes in this cookbook using this method include Smoked Trout with Apple-Horseradish Cream and Pan-Smoked Chicken paired with Apricot-Ancho Barbecue Glaze or your favorite barbecue glaze or sauce. In the latter recipe, the chicken is not smoked too long or the outside of the chicken will dry out. The chicken is finished on the grill.

Contact Kathie Smith at: food@theblade.com

or 419-724-6155.



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