Grilled Entrés

I'm fortunate enough to have an extended family living nearby, so when we BBQ, we really tie on the feedbag for 9 people! Being from Texas, it becomes a point of honor to be able to entertain well around a BBQ.

Below is a typical menu that we might serve. I start cooking it about 2 hours before guests are due to arrive. Make sure the guacamole is ready when they walk in the door, as well as a pitcher of mojitos. I'll also have Mexican beer and soft drinks on hand for those who are avoiding hard liquor.

Veggie Kabobs, Chili-rubbed Chicken, Honey Chipotle Ribs, and Drumsticks. Yum!


Turkey Sausages w/ Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Sausages are a weakness I don't think I'll ever overcome, no matter how bad they are for me. To moderate a little bit I've taken to having them in smaller quantities as an appetizer. Just BBQ them over a hot flame, puncturing them to let the grease out. There are some excellent turkey sausages available that are a touch healthier than the beef and pork. To keep them in proper theme for the rest of the BBQ I usually set out some of the Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce to have with them. See below for the recipe.

Corralitos Meat Market: Source of Gourmet Sausages and Meats in our area...

Honey Chipotle Ribs

This will be the long lead-time item on most menus, so start here. I discovered Honey Chipotle BBQ sauces while visiting Santa Fe, and I just had to have my own version! This is one I made up. We're cheating a little bit here to start with the KC Masterpiece, but what the heck, you've got to start somewhere. This sauce is not too hot--many friends who are not into spicey love it. In fact, the sauce is my most copied recipe. Try some, its good on most anything. I especially like it as a dipping sauce with the grilled sausages I favor as an appetizer.

2 racks pork baby back ribs
rinsed and patted dry

2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. coarse ground pepper
1 Tbs. granulated garlic
1 tsp. whole thyme
1 tsp. whole marjoram
Combine thoroughly.

3 chipotle peppers: I used canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 Tbs. fresh garlic, chopped
2 cups bottled KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Puree in a food processor until smooth. A blender works too.

Start grill to bring to temperature of 350º.

Rub ribs with "rub" and place on grill, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Turn over, baste liberally with sauce, cover and cook an additional 20 minutes. Turn over, baste again and cook another 20 minutes or until tender.

Cut between ribs and enjoy!

You need to decide how "crusty" you want the ribs to be, as the sauce will be cooked on. You may want to experiment with lower temperatures and looker cooking times as well. This works pretty darn good though!

I like to use the chipotles in canned adobo sauce. I think the adobo sauce adds extra flavor to the bbq and I put the remainder of the sauce out in a little ramiken for those who want some real hot stuff with their chips and guac.

Chili-rubbed Chicken

My friend Karen Henken introduced me to this tasty recipe.

1 part Cayenne Pepper
2 parts Paprika
2 parts Chili Powder
2 parts Dijon mustard
Olive Oil

For "part" you have to decide based on how much chicken you are cooking. 1 part = 1 tablespoon works, but you may want to double that recipe to make sure you don't run out. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the mustard, and then add just enough olive oil to make a nice paste that you can brush onto the chicken. Whisk it all together and apply to both sides of the boneless chicken breasts

The chicken will cook in about 20 minutes, so you want to time putting it on the grill with when you want to eat, keeping in mind other meats like ribs are the slow end of the bargain. Also, you want the grill hot when you first put the chicken on to sear the outside. Generally, I move the ribs up to the warming grid while I'm doing this, and then when I've seared both sides of the chicken on High heat, I'll turn down to medium and get the ribs back down on the grilling surface.

Don't be afraid of the spice on these--the fire cooks all the heat out and leaves behind a fairly mellow flavor that even spice-averse kids handle with ease. To make it even more savory, serve with a little dish of apricot chutney. That's how they do it at Tarpy's Roadhouse and it works!

The Chicken is Just Getting Started!

Lemon Chicken Drumsticks for Kids

Of course my young kids find all of this way to exotic for their tender young palates, so I prepare some drumsticks especially for them that are much simpler. Just douse them in olive oil and lemon juice and then salt and pepper liberally. Leave the skin on these guys. They come out juicy and tender--perfect for the little ones to eat, and they keep well for snacks later!

Cider Brined Pork Chops

Turn 'em just right to get nice grill marks...

When friend and business colleague Ron Fior extolled the virtues of brining for turkeys and pork chops (his favorite), I knew I had to try it. This is not Ron's recipe, so don't hold him responsible!

2 cups apple cider
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cinammon stick
4 pork-loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick

Brining the chops:

Place a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the apple cider and water, and bring to a boil. Add the kosher salt, brown sugar, pepper, sage, and cinammon, stirring until its been dissolved. Remove the brine from heat and chill it down in the refrigerator. Once chilled, put your chops in whatever containing you want, add the brine, and then cover the meat with water. Cover and stick it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

Now BBQ those babies and get ready for some good eating!

Brining is an interesting process. The salt in the water is really the active ingredient. When the salinity of the water is higher than the salt in the meat, osmotic forces carry the water into the meat. The spices and other flavorings get a free ride as well. Done properly, you get much juicier and more flavorful meats.

Roasted Pork Loin with Garlic

Why? Because pork fat rules, that's why!

There isn't a lot to this dish, it's quick and easy.


Most of the work is in the garlic, and that ain't much. Just take a bunch of cloves, you can leave whole heads or just the cloves, and put them into a square tray made of aluminum foil. Douse them with some olive oil, and then season liberally with salt and pepper. Put them on the grill where they can receive indirect heat, but no direct flames. By the time the meat is ready, the garlic will be golden brown and soft. I just serve it up like a side dish--the sweet flavor of roasted garlic is wonderful with pork. You can also spread it on crusty french bread.

BTW, the skins of the garlic come off very easily when its cooked, so I wait until this point and remove the skins before serving.

Pork Tenderloin

Take a pork tenderloin that's been throroughly rubbed with peppercorns. Oil your grill, and throw it on over medium high heat. Once you've got it browned all around, with some nice grill marks. Turn down the heat to medium, move the pork to an area of indirect heat, and cook until your meat thermometer registers 160°F. I like to carve a little on the bias and then serve it up with the garlic and your other side dishes.


Palomilla: Cuban Steak in Garlic-Lime Adobo

Adobo (Marinade)

4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil


4 sirloin steaks, each 6 to 8 ounces, cut 1/2" thick
2 large onions, cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
2 tablespoons olive oil

To prepare the adobo, place all the ingredients in a blender and process to a smooth paste. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as necessary. Marinate the steaks for half an hour before cooking. Don't leave them in the marinade too long--it really takes the flavors quickly.

Preheat the grill to high.

Oil the grill, brush the onion slices with oil, and arrange them on the grate. I like to use toothpicks to hold the slices together so they're easier to manage with tongs. Grill the onions until they're nicely charred--usually 3 or 4 minutes on each side.

Grill the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Turn 90 degrees each minute to make a nice hash of grill marks.

When done, transfer the steaks to a plate, brush with adobo, and serve with onions on the side.

The Adobo gives the meat a rich flavor, and a bit of a crust like aged beef. Really tasty!

Tandoori Chicken

I grew up in the small town of Midland, Texas, population a little under a hundred thousand. There was not a lot of variety in terms of the food there; we had fantastic BBQ, great Mexican food, a really excellent little Italian restaurant, and that was about it. Because of this admittedly limited culilnary upbringing, I went completely off the deep end when I went to University in the big city of Houston. Because of the thriving oil business in those days, Houston was a mecca for faraway cultures, and it was in Houston that I developed my love of all Asian cuisines. My favorite above all was and is Indian food, because of its variety, richness, spicyness, and grilled meats. The trouble with Indian is that it can be very labor intensive unless you look carefully for the "right" shortcuts. Like much of the third world, a big part of what sets gourmet food apart from normal fare is that the wealthy can afford to invest in a lot of labor to prepare the meals. Fortunately, Indians have developed a thriving middle class, particularly those who've moved over here, and that class wants good food without all the labor. What follows is an excellent Tandoori-style BBQ that is not completely authentic, but that tastes almost the same and is much easier to prepare.

By the way, if you're looking for Nan, use pita bread that has been brushed with a little butter or oil and then grilled. Remember too that rice is an alternate staple for Indian cuisine although most Westerners enjoy having both bread and rice at every Indian meal. If you insist on making your own Nan, it can be done right on the grill. I've made pizza on the grill and the crust is exactly like Nan. At some point I'll put that pizza recipe up on this web site and link to it here. As I'm still perfecting it, you'll just have to take my word for it!

The trouble with most recipes for Tandoori chicken is you have to hijack the entire cargo of a small spice freighter, mix it all up, and then spend hours marinading the chicken. In short, it takes too much work! The recipe tastes every bit as good to me, and is very easy. By the way, the red color we're used to seeing in Indian restaurants is just food coloring: honest!

Note: You could as easily use boneless chicken breasts, but cooking on the bone will yield juicier chicken!

1 chicken cut into 8 pieces and skin removed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Using a sharp knife, cut shallow incisions in the chicken every 1/2 inch to let the marinade in. In a large glass dish combine the lemon juice, water, salt, and turmeric. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Let the chicken marinade for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cayenne in a bowl. Spoon this over the chicken and turn until thoroughly coated. Let marinate for 10 more minutes. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat for about 10 minutes, basting with olive oil. Turn and cook about 10 minutes longer for breasts, 12 for thighs and drumsticks.

Grilled Pizza

Here's a recipe I've had a lot of fun with. It's great for slow, intimate dinner parties with folks you enjoy chatting with all night long. You can eat the pizza a lot faster than you can prepare it, so rather than drive the chef crazy trying to keep up, we enroll everyone in the process. We gather outdoor bar stools around the grilling station, open a good bottle wine, and take turns having the guests "design" pizzas which are then grilled and shared. Some amazing combinations come out of it, but I can never quite remember them the next day! It's okay, being inventive is half the fun, and we've never come up with a bad combination yet.

The first secret to success here is the dough recipe. You can't just use any old recipe. This one has been perfected for grilling and turns out great, though it isn't really like any other pizza you will have had. One of the interesting secrets is the immediate refrigeration of the dough, which slows down the yeast, and leaves more of the natural sugars and flavors intact. Another is the heavy use of olive oil, which also adds tremendous flavor. I am not one of those people who can tell they're doing right by the "feel" of the dough, so let me assure you this recipe is pretty foolproof.

The other secret to success with this is all in the prep work. Once the cooking begins, everything has to be ready to hand, and the pizza chef needs to have the steps memorized or chaos will ensue. Lay out your ingredients by the grill in what chefs call a mise en place--everything in its own little bowl and all the utensils handy. Fortunately, it's not all that hard to prepare in this way.

Dough Ingredients (Makes 6 individual sized pizzas)

5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups room temperature water

Sauce Ingredients

Per 5 or 6 pizzas

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teasoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1 tablespoon (or more, go crazy if you like) chopped fresh garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt or a little more to taste


Shredded Rotisserie Chicken or Pork (My chili-rubbed chicken above is awesome)
Prosciutto, Cooked Bacon, Canadian Bacon, or Pancetta
Italian or other Sausage, Cooked to Render Out Some of the Fat

Fresh herbs: Basil, Parsley, and Rosemary

Finely Chopped Fresh Garlic
Pine Nuts and Candied Pecans
Fresh Mushrooms, Sauteed to intensify their flavor. Porcinis are good.
Bell Peppers
Green Onions
Sauted Onions (Lightly Caramelized)
Olives (pitted!)
Fresh Tomatoes

Sliced Apple or Pear

Grated Mozarella
Smoked Mozarella is a nice alternative

Sharper Cheeses: Blue Cheese, Parmesan, Romano, etc.

Use your imagination! How about Peking Duck w/ Hoisin Sauce? Cashews or other nuts? Gibson onions? Truffle oil in a spray spritzer, wilted arugula, mascarpone, fig jam, Sri Racha, yada, yada...

Dough Preparation (The Day Before)

Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the water using the dough hook of your electric mixer on low speed. It'll take about 4 minutes until the dough forms a coarse ball that lifts from the sides and bottoms. Add more flour or water if needed to reach this consistency.

Let rest for 15 minutes

Mix again at low speed for another 2 to 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and tacky but not sticky.

Try the window pane test. Pinch of a piece of dough and stretch it with your thumbs until the dough is translucent. If you can't get it to stretch without breaking, you probably need to mix more.

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Round each piece into a ball, brush each ball with olive oil, and drop each into its own zip loc bag. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to each bag, seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Time Saver: Whole food dough balls are just as good!

Key Step: Whether you made the dough or bought it, 2 hours before grilling, pull the dough out of the fridge, set the balls in shallow pans, and roll them in a tablespoon of olive oil each. Get them well coated.

Tomato Sauce Preparation (Day Of)

Toss the ingredients together in a bowl, and you're done.

This simple sauce is suprisingly potent!

Don't be afraid to try crazy sauces. I've seen BBQ sauce used to good effect. I even tried a pizza at Kona Brew Pub in Hawaii that used Thai Satay peanut sauce--it was fantastic!

Let the Pizza Making Begin!

Cheese Thoughts

Pizzas need cheese, right? I like to come prepared with cheese combos. Don't just use mozarella. Use one melty cheese and one sharp flavored hard cheese. Mozarella and regiano-parmigiano. Gruyerre and Petite Basque. Those combos rock.

Treat super-soft cheeses (Blue cheese, gorgonzola, herbed cheeses, and goat cheese) as ordinary ingredients to layer on as well for added flavor bursts.

Nothing is sacred when it comes to pizza ingredients--it's all good!

Grill Prep, Plus: To Stone or Not to Stone? That is the Question...

I like pizza stones because I like super thin crispy crusts. Others do well without a stone and I admit it works fine. But the stone is better! If you use a stone, beware--lots of peeps crack their stones. They crack easily if they've been exposed to water any time near grilling. They crack easily no matter what. The first time I grilled, I cracked 2 stones. DOH! I'm now using granite stones on stainless stands that came from Williams Sonoma that are specially designed for grilling. They weren't cheap, but boy do they look cool.

If you use a stone, try to bring it up to temp a little slowly. Don't crank a monster gas grill on High and shock them up to 800 degrees in 2 minutes. I try to start my grill up early on low for a half hour, then medium, then high just before I start grilling the pizzas. You do need the grill to be good and hot.

If you have no stones, you may want a hot side and an indirect side of the grill, so do what you've got to do to make that happen.

While waiting for the grill to come up to speed, lay out your ingredients by the grill.

Here we go:

Make sure the grill is oiled so the pizza won't stick. If you are using a stone, I use corn meal to help the pizza slide.

Grab a ball, and flatten it out on the back of a round pizza dish. You'll want to make sure the dish is well coated with olive oil. Slide that baby onto the grill quickly, and without folding it over on itself. This takes a bit of skill! If you have a pizza peel, you can oil that and use it instead of the round dish.

As soon as the down side begins to char with nice grill marks, take it out, flip the pizza over and put it on your peel to start adding ingredients on the side with the char marks. You may want a light coat of olive oil on that side first.

Put cheese on first, then put some tomato sauce over top of the cheese. After that, you're on your own. I try to limit things to 3 ingredients after cheese and tomatoes. The more ingredients, the more trouble it is to make sure things cook without burning the crust. If you need to, start with fewer ingredients, and that warm up for a couple minutes, then I reopen the grill and apply the final toppings.

Let the whole thing come up to temperature for another 2-4 minutes, and pull it off the grill.

Chop into pieces and start eating while the next player decides on the toppings for the next pizza!

First the Cheese and Tomatoes...

Pepperonis with Fresh Basil and Prosciutto, Blue Cheese, and Fig Pizzas!

Teriyaki Salmon


4 salmon steaks, about 1/2 inch thick

3/4 cup sweet sherry (Mirin, a Japanese cooking rice wine is more authentic)
3/4 cup sake
3/4 cup dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Teriyaki Sauce

In a small saucepan combine the mirin, sake, soy, sugar, ginger, and basil. Bring to a boil and cook until about 1 cup remains. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

Grilled Salmon

Place the salmon in a non-reactive dish at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes before cooking and pour the marinade over the salmon. Turn so it is evenly coated and refrigerate until ready to grill.

Preheat the grill to medium high heat, about 350 degrees. Brush the cooking rack with oil. Lay the salmon in the center of the grill and close the grill. Cook the salmon until it just begins to flake with a fork, about 4 minutes a side. As the salmon cooks, brush on the remaining marinade, but stop brushing about 2 minutes before finished.

The same recipe can be used for Teriyaki Chicken Breasts. Consider sprinkling on some sesame seeds for the chicken. You may also want to reserve some of the marinade to brush onto the dish after the fish or chicken come off the grill.

Georgian Shashlik Kebabs With Pomegranate Molasses

My family loves the rich spices of Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Here's another simple recipe for the grill that's healthy and easy to prepare, yet very flavorful.


Shashlik Kebabs

25 oz Lean Top Sirloin Steak, Cubed

1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegrante molasses (recipe below)
1/4 cup water
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup parsley, finely diced
1/2 cup green onions
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pomegranate Molasses

4 cups pomegranate juice (or 8 to 10 fresh pomegranates, juiced)

1/4 cup sugar

Pomegranate Molasses (known as Narshrab or Narsharab)

Narshrab hails from Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. It's a thick sauce that is explosively sweet and flavorful. Drizzled over various meats, it really brings out the grilled flavor of the meat while lending an exotic flair.

Prepare the pomegranate molasses first. Place the juice in a large, wide, heavy saucepan with the sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a brisk simmer until dark, thick, and syruppy. It should reduce to about 1/3 the original volume over 15 or 20 minutes. When transferred to a sterile jar or container, it will keep up to 2 months in your refrigerator.

Shashlik Kebabs

Combine the marinade ingredients. Add the cubed meat into ziploc bags with the marinade. Set aside to marinade for at least 30 minutes to an hour. More time is better.

Just before grilling, remove the meat from marinade and place on skewers along with whatever else you want to serve. You can use pure meat skewers, but we like to add vegetables and cherry tomatos. Good kebab accompaniments include:

- Shallots or Pearl Onions

- Cherry Tomatos

- Bell Pepper (different colors are fun)

- Mushrooms

Assemble on the skewers, and grill over medium. Baste or drizzle on a little more pomegranate molasses before serving. It's always great to grill some pita to serve with the kebabs as well.

Captain Disco's Hot and Tangy New York Strip Steaks

I saw this recipe on a Bobby Flay recipe. Seems a Marine Captain, "Disco" is his nickname, beat Bobby at the grill with it. They were out in the dessert, and Disco had nothing more than Chuck Steak and his wits about him. Bobby Flay showed up with prime Ribeyes and Porterhouses, not to mention all of his elite chef skills and recipes. What's a poor Marine to do? Adapt. Improvise. Grill those steaks in an orderly and proficient military manner--Hoo Rah! Bobby got Semper Fi'd all the way to a second place finish and the Marines had some mighty fine eating out on the dessert that day.

Try the recipe, it rocks! If you leave the seeds out of the Habaneros, there's no fire at all on the steaks, but they're still very tasty. My vote is to leave the seeds in, but let your tastes guide your choices.


1 can cola
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup garlic teriyaki sauce
1 habanero chili pepper, finely chopped with seeds
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon finely ground ginger
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 New York strip steaks

Combine all the ingredients except for the steaks and the olive oil. Place the steaks and the marinade in a zip loc sealable plastic bag. Press out all the air and refrigerate for 4-6 hours to marinade. Best to put the bag in a bowl in case it leaks! Turn the steaks every couple of hours.

When you're ready to BBQ, let the steaks rest at room temperature for 20 minutes or so. While they're resting, take the marinade from the bag and boil it in a saucepan for 10 seconds or so. Reserve half of it to baste the steaks and keep cooking the other half down to make a dipping sauce.

Apply the olive oil to the steaks and grill, 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium rare. Be sure to let them rest 5 minutes or so when done and serve warm with the dipping sauce. They are tasty!

Grilled Entres, Part 2

How Can A Real Texan BBQ With Gas?!??

Hardly seems reasonable that a Texan is cooking with gas instead of charcoal or wood, does it? Well fear not. For grilling, the differences in taste are not significant. We're mostly searing the meat to lock in the juices and relying on the marinades and sauces to make the difference on flavor.

However, I will be the first one to admit that this is girlie man BBQ. Real Texas BBQ involves slowly cooking the meat for hours and letting the smoke from real wood add flavor. Forget pans of water with wood chips and all that BS. As far as I'm concerned, forget indirect cooking on a regular BBQ grill too. Real smoking demands the right equipment--a real smoker. Check out my brother-in-law's smoker, it's as good as good can be:

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Someday, I have got to get me one of those things!

Meanwhile, check out my Smoked Entre page for more on Smoking.


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All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.