All Things Yum: Spring into Spring!

All Things Yum: Spring into Spring with this Easy BBQ Menu by Mary Waserstein

I love to grill. There is something inherently festive about cooking outside- it just makes you feel relaxed. Standing around sipping a drink waiting for dinner to come off the grill is, to me, the height of luxury. I have four small children and the general level of chaos in our house at any given moment is akin to a circus. Those moments grill-side are a true slice of heaven.

We entertain a fair bit and BBQ-ing (outside of maybe fondue) is the most social of all food events. Maybe it harkens back to our cave days- light a fire and start cooking meat- people just instinctively start standing around.

When it’s a large group I like to set up nibbles in a couple of different places- as well as a small ancillary bar with just wine and beer so that people can just stay put and relax. Let’s be honest: life is insanely hectic and the ability to stay in one place for any really period of time is pretty unheard of! So afford your guests the luxury of laziness.

I like to keep the menu simple and abundant – less dishes and more of them. Think large platters piled high. This is a Spring BBQ because it relies on what is available now. In the summer I love to work with all the lovely produce- corn, tomatoes, dukes etc. In the off season we need to be a bit more creative with what we have. Potato salad is always a winner. I have many versions that I make that are great in their own way, but for me the classic potato salad loaded with eggs and mayo is always a favorite. Chicken is a crowd pleaser with both the older and younger set and can be prepped up to a day in advance. I always like to include a bright dish, and the Bok Choy Slaw is the perfect foil to the creamy potato salad and grilled chicken.This is a wonderfully simple menu that is sure to be a hit.

Here’s the full menu: Grilled Chicken, Classic Potato Salad, and Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots

Mustard and Garlic Grilled Chicken

2 Spatchcocked Chickens
3/4 Cup dijon Mustard
1/2 Cup Olive oil
8 cloves Garlic chopped
2 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons Black pepper

Have your butcher spatchcock your birds for you or do it at home. Cut the backbone out of a whole bird and slice into the breast bone. Layer skin side up on cutting board and press down with the palm of your hand. Viola! your bird is spatchcocked – which allows for quicker and more even cooking on the grill. Mix the Mustard, Oil, garlic,salt & pepper in a large bowl. Add the birds, and rub the the paste all over the birds on both sides. Cover with sedan wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Take out an hour before grilling to allow the birds to cook more evenly. Turn grill on high. Place birds directly over heat, skin side down, and cook for 10 mins. Then turn the left burner off, move chicken over to the turned off burner and cover and cook for another 25 mins. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.

Classic Potato Salad

3 lbs red potatoes – you can either use baby and keep whole or larger and cut in half
4 eggs
2 ribs celery diced
1/4 cup chopped cornichon
2 teaspoons cornichon liquid
1 cup mayo
2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Rinse and place potatoes in a medium sauce pan. Just cover with cold water & add a teaspoon of salt, turn heat up to medium high and cook until the potatoes are fork tender–about 25 mins. Drain and let potatoes cool. While the potatoes are cooking, place the eggs in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and cook on medium high heat until it boils – let boil for 5 mins. Turn off heat and cover let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

Cut potatoes into bite size pieces. Add to a large mixing bowl. Dice celery and add to bowl. Peel eggs, dice them, and add to mixing bowl with potatoes and celery. To the same bowl add mayo, chopped cornichons, mustard, cornichon liquid salt & pepper. Mix well with a metal spoon, breaking up pieces of potato. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Take out 20 minutes before serving.

Bok Choy Tomato Pickled Onion Slaw

1 small onion
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large head Bok Choy
1 8 oz package of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon honey

Cut a small yellow onion in half and then quarters. Slice finely. In a small mixing bowl add both vinegars, sugar and salt. Mix well until sugar and salt are dissolved – add onions, cover and set on counter for at least an hour. Clean and finely slice bok choy and add to a medium sized bowl. Cut tomatoes into quarters and add to bowl. In a small mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of one lemon, honey, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well. With a slotted spoon remove onions from brine and add to bok choy and tomatoes. Dress before serving and toss well.

** Guest Post written by Mary Waserstein. Mary is a lifelong New Yorker and East Hamptonite. All Things Yum was born from Mary’s love of cooking and entertaining as well as interior design. The featured recipes vary from the mid-week quickie to the more involved recipes for the leisurely weekend. Mary’s recipes focus on homestyle meals that work equally well for the casual family dinner or a more upscale evening. Throw in a dash of design and you have All Things Yum! **