Healthful Memorial Day grilling on the Big Green Egg
Back in the summer of 2014, I asked Santa for a Big Green Egg, and of course, being Santa, he lovingly obliged. Why did I want a Big Green Egg, you ask? Well, if you’re asking that, it means you might need a little education on the wonders of this modern marvel of outdoor cooking technology. First, it can grill, roast, smoke and bake. It comes in 7 different sizes, maintains temperatures nearly as good as your oven, and it will change the way you cook outdoors forever.
So with summer (and bathing suit weather) right around the corner, I set out to make an entire delicious and healthy meal on the Big Green Egg. The good news is, if you don’t have an Egg, these recipes can all be made on a gas or charcoal grill. Perfect for your Memorial Day barbecue.
My halibut grilled in banana leaves uses a simple Asian marinade, and cooks wrapped in foil in about 4 minutes per side. The banana leaves impart a lovely, very mild tea-like smokiness to the fish. Feel free to experiment with any kind of fish with this recipe. You can find banana leaves in most Fiesta stores for under $5.00, and one package has more banana leaves than I’d use in a lifetime. You just cut them to fit, (and this is the important part) quickly slide them over the hot grill grates to soften them for easy folding around your fish. I paired the halibut with a sweet coconut rice that I made indoors but then crisped inside the Egg in a small foil pan. For dessert, I placed some sweet, juicy yellow pineapple rings right on the grill grates just long enough to get those beautiful grill marks on both sides. I topped the pineapple with vanilla bean ice cream, a sprig of mint and a Luxardo cherry, and a refreshing dessert was born. If you have an ice cream maker, definitely use homemade with lots of fresh vanilla bean.
Finally, to keep you properly hydrated while you’re out cooking in the sunshine, I’ve made a refreshing, simple cocktail that you just have to try. It’s an old sailor’s drink – Mount Gay Rum and Tonic. This cocktail isn’t about fancy ingredients and you don’t have to be a mixologist to make it. Three simple ingredients are all it takes, (and here’s the important part), do not substitute another spiced rum. Mount Gay is Mount Gay. It’s from Barbados where they know how to make rum. And so you don’t get too tipsy on your Mount Gay and Tonic, nibble on some Roasted Spiced Macadamia nuts while you’re cooking.
Summer’s almost here! So get out the grill or the Big Green Egg, and make something delicious and healthy. EGGheads unite!
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Halibut Grilled in Banana Leaves
(Watch me make this Halibut grilled in banana leaves at www.star-telegram.com )
4 6 – 8 ounce halibut filets (or any firm white fish)
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
For the marinade:
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onions or chives
Season halibut with salt and pepper and place into glass baking dish. Top with marinade for at least 30 minutes, turning at least once.
Cut banana leaves into 12” x 10” squares. Using kitchen tongs, quickly slide a banana leaf over the grill grates for about 2 seconds to soften it. Place one piece of fish and 1/4 of the marinade on top of a banana leaf. Top with green onion or chives. Fold over all 4 sides. Place onto a piece of aluminum foil and seal well to keep juices inside. Repeat with each piece of fish. Place fish packets directly onto the grill grates. Close the top to maintain heat at about 400 degrees (if using an Egg). Cook for 4 minutes, then turn and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Remove from grill and carefully remove the foil. Place banana leaf onto serving plate. Carefully open the banana leaf to maintain juices, garnish with green onions or chives, and serve.
Crispy Coconut Rice
2 cups Jasmine Rice
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 disposable foil pan
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Place rice, coconut milk, water and salt in a large pot on the stove, stir and heat until boiling. Stir again once, cover and reduce heat to medium-low for 15 minutes. Don’t open the pot while it’s cooking. After 15 minutes of cooking, remove from heat and let set covered for another 5-10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Place melted butter into a disposable foil pan and spoon rice evenly in the bottom. Heat Egg to 400 degrees and place foil pan on the grill grates for 10 minutes with top closed, or until rice is brown and crisp on the bottom. Remove and serve.
Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
12 pineapple rings
1 pint good quality vanilla bean ice cream
4 Luxardo cherries (at Central Market or online)
4 sprigs fresh mint for garnish
Place pineapple rings on hot grill grates just long enough for grill marks to form. Flip and repeat on the other side. Place into individual serving dishes. Top with vanilla bean ice cream and garnish with a sprig of mint and a Luxardo Cherry.
Roasted Spiced Macadamia Nuts
8 ounces Macadamia nuts
1/2 teaspoon safflower oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice powder (I made my own, but you can buy it pre-made in the spice section)
1 disposable foil pan
To make Chinese 5 Spice Powder:
1 teaspoon Szechwan Pepper
1 teaspoon ground Star Anise
1 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Place all ingredients in a spice grinder or coffee bean grinder and blend into a fine powder. Place in a small sandwich bag or small jar and store in a cool, dark place.
Heat the Egg to 400 degrees. Place nuts, oil and spice into a disposable foil pan. Toss to coat. Place foil pan in the Egg uncovered and roast, stirring often, until nuts are toasty brown.
Serve alongside a cool, refreshing Mount Gay and Tonic and enjoy!
Mount Gay Rum and Tonic
Makes 1 cocktail
1 part Mount Gay Rum (there is no substitute for Mount Gay Rum. Other spiced rums are too “spiced” or too sweet. Buy some Mount Gay and you’ll never go back.)
3 parts diet tonic water
1 lime wedge
Fill a cocktail glass with ice all the way to the top. Add rum and tonic and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime. Enjoy with Roasted Spiced Macadamia Nuts.