The sun is finally shining through the April showers, and shorts are more than appropriate. Now a few weekends ago (oh how the time has flown on my adventure through the South), my house christened our new grill. Our house came with a few downers – the electricity, water and gas all getting cut off within the first week of us living there – but a few uppers too. We have a porch, some rocking chairs, a spacious kitchen and a grill. We had all taken advantage of one of those perks except for the grill until that weekend. It was only fitting though, for us to have a bunch of people over to enjoy the luxuries of our massive grill. We wanted to fill up the grill with as much as possible.
We planned on starting the festivities early afternoon, around three o’clock, to bring the weekend to us even sooner. It was a sunny, breezy, Southern day where the grass was growing a bit too high and the condensation from our water glasses couldn’t cool us off enough. But we prevailed, somehow.
This wasn’t our first ever cookout in our lives, but probably the first one that we, specifically, held. So we felt like the pressure was on. But the one thing we knew was that we needed foods, propane and above all, people.
We never really thought about what we were going to have, rather that we were just going to have a cook out. I mean, everyone knows what a cook out is, right? Well, I quickly found out that it was regional. We had differing opinions – barbeque, burgers, vegetables, watermelon? It as all fair game, and that was part of the problem.
Friday noon rolled around and we still only had a grill and a determination to provide for our future guests.
“So, what do we need to get from the grocery store?”
“Well, let’s see. Maybe some meat, vegetables, bread and watermelon.”
“That isn’t vague at all, now is it?”
“Let’s just get stuff that inspires us, yeah?”
“And if not, we’ll just get a watermelon. Great.”
Once we got back to the house – bags full of ground beef, eggplant, squash, pita, hummus, plantains, and watermelon – I had flashbacks of my childhood in Central New York on Cayuga Lake, roaming around a grill, waiting for meat patties to grill just enough to be smothered with cheese and tossed on a plate already filled with potato chips. We’d devour one, two or three of those burgers, wait our 30 minutes and head straight to the water for a good swim or round of bocce ball.
I didn’t know if I wanted to have that exact meal (I actually knew I didn’t want that meal) but I did know that I wanted that atmosphere: Summer. So we got to preparing some burgers laced with smashed garlic, salt and pepper. We marinated sliced eggplant in olive oil and toasted up pita to make pita chips. And saved the watermelon for last.
People started to show up and devour. The burgers looked like the type of burgers that made you salivate just seeing them. The eggplant dropped with oil coming off the grill and the watermelon made its red debut against the green grass near the end of the meal. If only every day was a good day for grilling.
1 lb. ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
Make sure that the ground meat that you’re getting at the store is as fresh as possible. I’ve heard of people getting steaks and grinding it themselves. That’d be great, if you have a meat grinder. Crush about one clove of garlic for every three burgers and mix it in with the ground meat. Ball up about 5 oz. of meat and work it into a rounded disc (not too flat, since it might break on the grill). Salt and pepper the to-be burger. Place the to-be burger on the grill and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes per side (flip when the bottom side starts to brown up). Cook for a total of 8-12 minutes. Place the bun on the grill for about 2 minutes, and load it up with cheese (if you please). Snatch the burger from the grill, before anyone else can.
“Sweden Meets America” Burgers
For those who want something a bit different, it was last summer that I was exposed to the world of spicing up meat patties. My friend’s boyfriend was visiting from Sweden, and to show him a good ol’ American time, we took him to Walmart, a farm, and had a cook out for dinner. He took over the burger making, though. I’ve adopted his recipe ever since.
1 lb. ground beef
1 clove of crushed, chopped garlic
½ onion, chopped
Sauté the onion and garlic together in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Let cool, then add garlic, onion, and other ingredients to a the ground meat and mix together. Once fully mixed, make into a few patties. Place on a hot grill, and cook until your preferred temperature (medium-raw, medium, well-done). Eat with a watermelon (because it represents summer), some beans and some grilled vegetables. It will be great.