Here in Israel, the official grilling season begins in the spring, on Israel Independence Day. Israelis take their grilling very seriously -- almost every square centimeter of park or patch of ground fills with grilling "experts" -- almost always men! -- vigorously fanning the coals with a "naf-naf." (I believe it's an Israeli invention.) This goes on until the rains come -- with any hope -- in October.
Gone are the days when the gang would be happy with a few hotdogs or kebabs. Today's "grillers" are as likely as not to specialize in steaks, chicken breast and/or "pargiot," which are boneless chicken legs.
Marinades help a lot in these endeavors, especially when it comes to tougher cuts of meat; marinades infuse subtle or stronger flavor as well as tenderizing.
In addition to herbs, condiments, spices and oils, marinades typically include an acid, like lemon juice, wine or vinegar. Add something sweet like honey to your marinade and get a caramelized coating on your BBQ.
Always marinate in the refrigerator. And remember, if you're basting with a liquid in which raw meat is marinated, do not apply it during the last three minutes of grilling.
All-Purpose Sweet-Sour Marinade
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Combine white vinegar, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for a day or two before using. Shake occasionally and store in refrigerator.
Makes about 2 cups.
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup olive oil
6 Tbsps. coarse-grained Dijon mustard
4 Tbsps. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Whisk all ingredients together. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to a few days. Shake well before using on beef ribs, chicken, etc.
Makes about 2 cups.
Grilled Tuna Kebabs with Chermoula
Chermoula is a Moroccan herb-lemon marinade, great with fish, chicken or meat.
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and thin stems only)
1/2 tsp.freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. Moroccan paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb. tuna steaks (cut into 3/4-inch cubes)
16 wooden skewers soaked for 30 minutes in water before use
cilantro or parsley sprigs for garnish
Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor and process to a coarse purée.
Place half the chermoula marinade in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate remaining marinade.
Add tuna cubes to plastic bag and toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerater at least 4 hours or overnight.
Prepare kebabs, carefully threading about 3 cubes per skewer.
Grill slowly over indirect coal heat until fish is done.
Serve 2 skewers per person, topped with the reserved chermoula. Garnish with cilantro or parsley sprigs and serve immediately.
Chicken Breasts with Chives
Not for the grill, but easy and delicious.
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup chopped chives (divided)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 boned skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb. total)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup sliced zucchini
2 Tbsps. snipped dill leaves
Combine olive oil, 1/4 cup chives and garlic in a shallow container.
Pound chicken breasts with a mallet between sheets of plastic wrap. Cut into strips. Add to marinade, turning to coat. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Next day, remove from refrigerator and place entire mixture in a heavy, large skillet. Saute over medium heat for approximately 25 minutes.
Add wine; lower heat to simmer; cover and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove cover and add zucchini and dill.
Continue to cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with remaining chives.
Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email Her at: [email protected] .