All Up In My Grill

After I bought my house, one of the first things I invested in was a gas grill. I'd never owned one before because, truthfully, I never had the space for something that big, nor the inclination to deal with it every time I moved. However, I used to tell myself that charcoal was better because of the taste and the ability to use wood chips for smoking and flavor. I never used any woodchips.

So, as soon as I had the space, I went to Sears and bought myself a proper gas grill. It has a counter on one side to put my plates or utensils on and a gas burner on the other so I can have a pan of something going while I'm working the grill. Granted, this is pretty much the set up of all gas grills, but I was enamored by the features when I got it. There are little hooks to hang my tongs and spatulas from and there are three separate grilling areas. The world of outdoor cooking suddenly became mine.

Having the ability to, quite literally, turn on the fire makes gas grilling the only way to go. It's so much less of a chore and, suddenly, the idea of coming home and quickly grilling up a burger or a piece of fish is kind of a no-brainer. It's nice to not heat up the kitchen on a hot summer day.

Grilling 101 (burgers, chicken breasts, steaks) is fun and easy but Advanced Grilling (fish, vegetables, shellfish) is where the real challenge and reward lies. This past weekend, I grilled lobster tails for the first time. Surprisingly easy and incredibly tasty, this is one fish that should probably be moved down into the "grilling basics" category. I also grilled asparagus (and only lost one spear through the grate) and the best eggplant I've ever made.

So, today, I'd like to share these recipes with you and encourage you to try them regardless of your gas versus charcoal stance. Bon appetite!!

- Alex, the grill-master

Grilled Lobster Tails

(recipe serves 6)

3 1/2 lbs or larger lobster tails
1/2 stick of butter, melted
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of lemon juice

If frozen, defrost the tails by placing them in a ziplock bag and submerging them in a bath of tepid water until they're no longer frozen. To prepare, place the uncooked tail shell side down on a cutting board. With an very sharp knife, cut the tail lengthwise, all the way through the shell. If you can't cut through the shell with the knife, use kitchen scissors to cut the shell down the middle. You will be left with meat nestled in two half shells.

Stir the crushed garlic and lemon juice into the melted butter. With a basting brush, baste the butter mixture on the meat of the lobster, letting it run into the shell. Let the tails sit, basted while you heat up the grill.

Just prior to putting the tails on the grill, baste the meat one more time. Place the lobster tail halves, flesh side down, on a high grill and cook until the flesh has "grill marks" on it (approximately 1-2 minutes). Lower the heat to medium-high. Turn the tails over (shell side down on the grill) and begin basting with the remaining butter mixture. Continue basting for approximately 4 minutes or until the lobster is cooked through. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the tail if you have trouble knowing when it's finished. The meat should be about 140 degrees and opaque.

That's it! Serve with drawn butter and/or lemon for an amazing meal.

Grilled Vegetables 
(asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, summer squash)

bamboo skewers - soaked in water for 1/2 hour
Good Seasons Zesty Italian Dressing, made with balsamic vinegar

Wash the vegetables. Cut the fibrous ends off the asparagus and slice the eggplant, zucchini and summer squash into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. Try to keep the slices as even as possible to aid in even cooking times.

Place all the prepared vegetables in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Cover with a full container of balsamic dressing. Zip the bag and marinate for at least 1/2 hour. (Vegetables can be prepped the day before and marinated for up to 24 hours.)

Heat the grill to high.

Take the marinated asparagus and skewer as many as will fit on a bamboo skewer through the thickest part of the asparagus.

Before placing the vegetables on the grill, reduce the heat to medium.

Place the vegetables on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on both sides and limp. Be careful of flare ups from the oil in the marinade - you don't want your veggies to burn.

If your squash slices are fairly small, it's easy for them to fall through the grill. Patience and no regret for the few lost pieces is the key.

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