Labor Day is fast approaching. If you're looking to spice up your grill from the standard hot dog and hamburger affair, Matthew Riznyk, executive chef of catering for Manhattan catering company Great Performances, shares his menu for a tasty Labor Day feast.
"The easiest dinner ever is skirt steak," says Riznyk. "It cooks in minutes and is super tasty." The chef likes to marinate his in garlic, soy sauce and lime zest, and serve with chimichurri and grilled potatoes.
Ribs are always a big hit for meat eaters, and Riznyk likes to serve his Korean style. "I marinade flanken-cut short ribs and serve them with lettuce wraps and scallion salad," says Riznyk. "Ssamjang (Korean spicy dipping sauce) is a real winner for me."
"A go-to BBQ menu item is always a whole grilled fish with crispy skin," says Riznyk. Serve with a quick herb sauce made of olive oil and lemon, and then dig in.
"Clams are delicious when grilled," says Riznyk. To prepare, first rinse and scrub the shells, then put them on a hot grill and cover it. Take them off the grill when they pop so you don't release any of the juices, advises Riznyk, who likes to serve his with a bacon-shallot-chile-lemon butter.
Don't forget the vegetarians! A grilled pizza will have everyone clamoring for a slice. "I throw a pizza stone directly on top of the high flame and heat for 30 minutes until it is scorching hot," says Riznyk. "Then add your pizza and shut the lid for 6-7 minutes."
Grilled vegetables are also a must, and Riznyk's go-to is beets. First roast, peel and slice them before throwing on the grill. When off, toss with a sherry vinegar. "I like mine with ricotta and watercress, but they are also delicious when unaccompanied," says Riznyk.
Grilled peaches and figs
Keep it simple and light for dessert -- you've got enough going on. Riznyk likes ripe, but not over-ripe, peaches or figs. "Add olive oil, grill and then serve on vanilla ice cream," says the chef. "You can also add some aged balsamic."
Michael Lomonaco’s grilled peach BBQ sauce
Behind every great BBQ is a great sauce. And to help make your Labor Day food festivities an especially flavorful one is Michael Lomonaco. The managing partner and executive chef at Porter House New York and Center Bar shares his recipe for a grilled peach relish BBQ sauce that pairs well with lamb and chicken.
“As summer draws to a close, it’s a welcome break from the more traditional BBQ sauces that I’ve been eating all summer,” says Lomonaco.
Pro tip: Put the cold sauce in a blender for 10 seconds for a less chunky texture, recommends the chef.
Grilled Peach Relish BBQ sauce
Yield: 2 cups
2 lbs. firm, fresh peaches, blanched to remove the skin, cut in half, and pit removed
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small white onion, peeled and diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup white raisins
1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp. grated ginger
2 tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1. On a hot grill, lay the peach halves cut side down.
2. Grill until the sugars begin to caramelize, turning occasionally to prevent burning.
3. Remove. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
4. Put the vinegar and brown sugar into a non-reactive pot, place over medium heat and bring to a boil.
5. Add red pepper, onion, jalapeno, raisins, garlic, ginger, curry and salt and simmer 10 minutes.
6. Add the peach segments and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
7. Remove from the heat and cool.
8. May be used to baste grilled seafood, lamb, or poultry and serve as a table condiment as well.