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Fire it up!

You'll be the hit of the party with these delicious dishes for the grill

Last reviewed: July 2011
VIDEO:
 
 

Now that you've got your new gas grill, use these recipes to create a summertime feast. Just add the right company and some tasty drinks—see our buying guides on wine and blenders that can whip up margaritas and other invigorating concoctions—and you'll be on your way to creating memorable moments in your backyard.

The first two recipes below were created in the Consumer Reports test kitchen by a Culinary Institute of America graduate. If you've never considered making pizzas on a grill, now's the time to add them to your outdoor-cooking repertoire. Next up are our delectable barbecue sauce and tasty Argentinean Short Ribs, courtesy of renowned grilling expert Steven Raichlen, cookbook author and host of "Barbecue University" on PBS. You'll also find tips on grilling the perfect steak, from another Consumer Reports staff member who's also a Culinary Institute of America alum.

Send us an e-mail to tell us what you think of the dishes you create and let us know if you want more recipes in the future.

To see the full recipe click on the name of each dish.

Grilled corn on the cob

Grilled corn on the cob

Prep time: 5 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings.

6 to 8 ears of corn, in their husk      

 Preheat grill for 15 to 20 minutes on medium-high with the lid closed.
 Remove the first few layers of the husk, leaving a few layers to protect the corn. (Be sure that none of the silk is exposed or it could catch fire.)
 Place the corn on heated grill and turn every 3 to 5 minutes for 15 minutes.
 Remove from heat and serve immediately or keep warm.

Grilled pizza fresca

Grilled pizza fresca

(Recipe developed in Consumer Reports' test kitchen.)
Prep time: 25 minutes. Total time: 3 hours.
Makes: 4 personal pizzas.

For the dough:

1 package active dry yeast   1 1/4 cups warm water
2 cups bread flour   1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar   1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil      

For the topping:

Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste   8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, sliced   1 small can sliced black olives
3 to 4 medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced   15 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
16 leaves of fresh basil, torn      

 In the bowl of a stand mixer, let the yeast dissolve in the warm water, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add all the remaining dough ingredients. Using a dough hook, mix on low until all ingredients just come together, and then mix on high for another 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
 Shape the dough into a round ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a clean, damp towel and set in a warm place to proof for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
 While the dough is rising, sauté the garlic in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Set aside with the rest of the pizza toppings.
 Preheat your gas grill to medium heat with the lid down.
 Punch down and divide the dough into four equal portions. Shape each portion into a round, and working from the center, flatten into a disk about 7 1/2 inches in diameter.
 Using a fork, pierce the dough all over. (This will allow steam to release, which creates a crispy crust.) Lightly brush olive oil on one side of each piece and place on the grill.
 Grill for about 1 to 2 minutes or until grill marks have appeared on the bottom.
 Oil the top and flip the pizza, using a spatula. Add toppings and grill an additional 2 minutes with the lid down. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Other topping suggestions:

 Cheeses: chevre (goat), feta, fontina, gorgonzola
 Fresh herbs: cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary
 Meats and seafood: cooked chicken or shrimp, pepperoni, salami
 Vegetables: arugula, mushrooms, onions, spinach, zucchini

Citrus-grilled chicken with rosemary

Citrus-grilled chicken with rosemary

(Recipe developed in Consumer Reports' test kitchen.)
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus time for marinating; see below).
Makes: 4 breasts.

1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)   1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 lemons)
1/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (about 1 large orange)   2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped   1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste      

 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, split evenly (use a meat pounder to ensure even thickness, if desired)
 Combine all the ingredients except the chicken in a large, nonreactive bowl; mix well. Add the chicken to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
 Allow chicken to marinate at least 2 hours but no more than 4 hours. (You could marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours; note that the acids in the marinade will break down the proteins in the chicken, compromising its texture.)
 Preheat your grill with burners on high with the lid closed for 15 minutes. When the grill is preheated, reduce burners to low.
 Place the breasts at an angle on grill and close the lid. After about 5 minutes, give the chicken a quarter turn, close lid again, and let the chicken cook about another 5 minutes.
 Flip the chicken over and repeat Step 4.
 Grill until an inserted meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast reads at least 165° F. Remove the chicken from grill.
 Let the meat rest 5 minutes to redistribute its juices before serving.

Consumer Reports' barbecue sauce

Consumer Reports barbecue sauce

Total time: about 30 minutes.
Makes: About 2 cups.

1 teaspoon crushed garlic (2 to 3 cloves)   3/4 cup white vinegar
1 6-ounce can tomato paste   1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup light molasses   1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons orange marmalade   1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper   1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard   1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon celery seed   1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper   1 small bay leaf
1 tablespoon liquid smoke      

 In a medium-sized saucepan, combine all ingredients except the liquid smoke.
 Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 Remove from the heat. Add the liquid smoke. Stir.

Note: You can customize the sauce to your liking. If you prefer a spicy sauce, add more cayenne. If you want a sweeter sauce, add more molasses. And if you don't have an ingredient on hand, substitute something else, such as a few tablespoons of orange rind for the marmalade.

Argentinean short ribs with two chimichurris

Argentinean short ribs with two chimichurris

Prep time: About 10 minutes. Total time: About 45 minutes.
Makes: 4 servings.

The perfect ribs for steak fanatics, tira de asado are short ribs cut in long strips that literally hang off the plate. You'll find these unusual ribs at Argentinean steak houses, where butchers cut beef short ribs crosswise on band saws into thin "steaks." Once available only in South America, Argentinean short ribs are turning up at Latin-themed steak houses and multiethnic food markets all across America, says Raichlen. The traditional accompaniment is chimichurri, an herb, oil, and vinegar based "steak sauce," but just what passes for chimichurri depends on where you're dining. In the pampas (grasslands) of Argentina, it's a simple affair—some salt, hot pepper flakes, and dried oregano moistened with vinegar and vegetable oil. In the cities, it might be a lush, emerald-green pestolike puree of fresh garlic, flat-leaf parsley, wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. These ribs feature the best of both: The spartan gaucho mixture is used to season the ribs, while the fresh herb chimichurri is served as a sauce.

1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)   1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper   1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced   1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Chimichurri sauce (recipe follows)   About 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into long 1/2-inch-wide strips
         

 To make the chimichurri rub, place the salt, oregano, black pepper, hot pepper flakes, and garlic in a small bowl and stir to mix.
 Place the short ribs in a baking dish. Sprinkle the chimichurri rub on both sides of the ribs, rubbing it onto the meat. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the ribs on both sides, rubbing it onto the meat. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate them.
 Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high; use the Mississippi test to check the heat (see Determine how hot your grill is).
 Make the chimichurri sauce and set it aside.
 When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the short ribs on the grate and cook until sizzling and darkly browned on the outside and cooked to taste, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium.
 Transfer the ribs to a platter or plates and let rest for a couple of minutes. Serve the ribs with the Chimichurri sauce spooned over them or on the side.

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

Prep time: About 10 minutes.
Makes 2 cups.

In a marked demonstration of human ingenuity, fresh herb chimichurri contains both a breath polluter (raw garlic) and a natural mouthwash (parsley). The net effect is the gutsy flavor of garlic without the price to pay at the moment of the goodnight kiss. A lot of ink has been spilled on the etymological origins of this curiously named sauce. The prevailing story centers on a British bartender working in Buenos Aires named Jimmy and his favorite seasoning, curry powder. By this reasoning, "Jimmy's curry" became chimichurri. There are two problems here: Curry powder is not an ingredient used in Argentinean cooking. And why would Argentina's national condiment come from an Englishman? Whatever its origins, the assertive blend makes a terrific sauce for beef ribs.

3 tablespoons minced onion   8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, washed, stemmed, and dried   5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar or more to taste
5 tablespoons water   1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper   1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano   1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper      

 Finely chop the parsley and garlic in a food processor.
 Add the onion, vinegar, water, salt, oregano, pepper flakes, and black pepper and process in brief bursts until the salt crystals are dissolved.
 Add the oil in a thin stream. Do not over process; the chimichurri should be fairly coarse.
 Correct the seasoning, adding salt or vinegar to taste.

Lime-and-tequila-marinated flank steak

Lime-and-tequila-marinated flank steak

(Recipe developed in Consumer Reports' test kitchen.)
Prep time: 5 minutes. Total time: Several hours, depending on marinating time.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings.

3-pound flank steak   1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup tequila   2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 to 4 medium to large limes)
2/3 cup olive oil   1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste      

 Place steak in a deep dish.
 Mix vinegar, tequila, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl; pour over steak.
 Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours.
 When ready to cook, preheat grill on medium for 15 to 20 minutes with the lid closed.
 Cook the steak approximately 2 minutes, rotate a quarter turn, and cook 2 more minutes. Flip and repeat until done (145°F for medium-rare on a meat thermometer; 160°F for medium). Brush with marinade after each turn except the last.
 Let the steak rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving. Cut into thin slices across the grain for tenderness.

How to cook the perfect steak

How to cook the perfect steak

Besides studying at the Culinary Institute of America, John Macchia, a senior laboratory technician in the Technical Division of Consumer Reports, has grilled hundreds of steaks in his eight years of testing grills for this magazine. Follow his grilling tips so your steaks are seared on the outside and tender and juicy inside:

  • Use fresh beef that you've just bought or have refrigerated for up to three days. Do not use meat that has been frozen.
  • Preheat your gas grill on high for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grates. Remember to keep the lid closed during preheating and as you cook.
  • Trim excess fat from the steak. Then season the meat with freshly ground pepper and kosher or coarse salt, using a little more salt than usual since some will drip off during cooking.
  • To get steakhouse-quality grill marks, place one end of the steak diagonal to the grates facing left (pointing to 10 o'clock). Then, without flipping the steak, move the end so that it now faces right (pointing to 2 o'clock). Flip the steak and repeat the previous two steps.
  • Grill a boneless steak, such as rib-eye or sirloin, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, for 90 seconds for each step if you prefer rare meat. Grill a bone-in steak, like a porterhouse, for 2 minutes per step for rare. Add 30 seconds per step for medium-rare. Cook for 3 minutes per step for medium-well. Remove the steak from the grill.
  • A meat thermometer should register 145º F for medium-rare, 160º F for medium, and 165º F for medium-well, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Vegetable skewers with garlic-and-fennel-seed marinade

Vegetable skewers with garlic-and-fennel-seed marinade

(Recipe developed in Consumer Reports' test kitchen.)
Prep time: 25-30 minutes. Total time: 40-45 minutes.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings.

For the skewers:

2 to 3 summer squash or zucchini   2 to 3 small to medium eggplants
1 pint small cherry tomatoes   1 pint small white mushrooms, stems removed
6 to 8 long metal skewers      

For the marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce   1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup olive oil   1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds   Salt and pepper to taste

 Cut vegetables into half-inch cubes (leave cherry tomatoes and mushroom caps whole) and thread on the skewers. Use two pieces of each vegetable per skewer.
 Arrange skewers in one layer in a deep dish.
 Mix the marinade in a bowl; pour over vegetables and let marinate for no more than 15 to 20 minutes.
 Place skewers on a medium-hot grill and close the lid. Cook skewers about 1 minute, then rotate each a quarter turn, and cook 1 minute more. Flip skewers and repeat until done. Brush with marinade after each turn.
Place skewers on a medium-hot grill and close the lid. Cook skewers about 1 minute, then rotate each a quarter turn, and cook 1 minute more. Flip skewers and repeat until done. Brush with marinade after each turn.

Grilled summer fruit

Grilled summer fruit

(Recipe developed in Consumer Reports' test kitchen.)
Prep time: 5 minutes. Total time: 10-15 minutes.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings.

1 pineapple or 3 to 4 medium peaches   Vanilla ice cream
Fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries      

 Peel and core the pineapple and cut into 1-inch slices. If using peaches, cut them in half and remove pits but don't peel.
 On medium-hot grill, cook pineapple 2 minutes per side; cook peaches skin-side up for 4 minutes, flip and cook 3 or 4 more minutes.
 Serve with ice cream and berries.

Determine how hot your grill is

How hot is your grill?

If your grill has a built-in thermometer, you can use it to determine the temperature of your grill. But, says Raichlen, the readings of those thermometers can be approximate. Another way to gauge the heat with or without a built-in thermometer is what Raichlen calls the Mississippi test. Hold your hand (with your palm facing down) about four inches above the hot grill grate and start counting, "One Mississippi, two Mississippi ... "

When the fire is burning on high, you will be able to count to only two or three Mississippis before the intense heat forces you to snatch your hand away. When the fire is low, you'll be able to count to as many as 12 Mississippis.

It goes without saying that you need to be extremely careful during this procedure. Never allow your children to try this test. And if the fire feels too hot, don't continue to count with your hand over the grill. Simply put, be smart.

Here's a breakdown of the Mississippi count for the various heat levels.

Heat Temperature (°F) Count (Mississippis)
High 450 to 650 2 to 3
Medium-high 400 4
Medium 325 to 350 5 to 6
Medium-low 300 7 to 8
Low 225 to 250 9 to 12