Kick Back & Turn Up—Recipes & Advice for Your Summer Cookout

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to the summer y’all. We, Black folks, come alive in the sun. The melanin in our skin soaks up the sun’s rays, and shines them right back to the universe in the form of a golden glow and positive vibrations. This is a time that we like to kick back, cook out and turn up.

After a year and a half of most of us being stuck indoors, I’m about to spill some advice that will make your transition to being “outside” in a post-ish pandemic world a whole lot easier. Now, I usually start off these posts by offering up advice on how to be the perfect host, but this time around I’m going to begin with tips on being the perfect guest— ‘cuz no one likes that person who gets all drunk and starts acting a hot mess at the gathering or fest.

Tips for securing your forever invite:

  • Never show up to the function empty-handed. Arrive with a bottle of wine or spirit. Before purchasing, ask the hosts what they prefer.
  • Call ahead before arriving and ask the hosts if they need anything in the realm of red cups and ice. You know they always do.
  • For kick backs and picnics, bring your own blanket or chair.
  • Pace yourself when imbibing; you never want to be “that person.”
  • Get the lay of the land before you go about flirting. The person you may have your eye on may be someone’s partner.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not sit at the spades or dominoes table if you aren’t an intermediate player. Folks mean serious business here. There’s no room for beginners at the playing table.
  • Unless offered, do not stash food plates to go
  • Lastly, offer to help clean up. The gesture is always appreciated, whether the hosts need your help or not.

Hosting tips for a successful cookout:

  • This is one occasion where paper plates are welcomed. I tend to lean towards the Dixie Ultra 10-inch plates. They are sturdy and can stand up to sauce. Nothing is more annoying than a soggy paper plate. Please stay away from styrofoam. The earth loves us; we should love her back.
  • Make sure all of your food is covered throughout the event. Check periodically to refresh your trays and. dishes, so the food always looks appetizing. It sucks to be in the second round of guests and be met with food that looks picked over.
  • In the spirit of good housekeeping, always have a nice-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on the table near the spread.
  • For all my aspiring grill masters, invest in some hickory chips for your coal mix. It will add a deliciously sweet smokey dimension to your meat, chicken and fish.
  • Seasonings, seasonings, seasonings are key. I can’t stress this enough. My go-to fave is Ms. Mickey’s Creole Seasonings. Sis, really put her heart and soul into these blends so you really wouldn’t have to do any of the hard-core flavor work yourself.
  • For your plant-based guests, buy a few Beyond Meat patties or portobello mushroom caps. Marinade them in your favorite “meat” recipes so they look as tantalizing and savory as your other main protein entrées.
  • Prepare side dishes that are simple; yet, can feed a crowd. Choose from classics, such as: potato salad, pasta salad (short pastas work best—farfalle, penne, shells), coleslaw, mixed green salads, or rice pilaf.

You might be wondering, “Where are the recipes, sis?” Don’t worry; I got you! For good measure, I enlisted the help of some amazing professionals who blessed us with their amazing cookout, kick back and turn up dishes. Test them out and be proud when someone asks, “Who made the ribs?”

Chef Mezz’s Tennessee Honey Thai Sweet Chili Shrimp and Chicken Skewers

@maryskitchen273 , Chef Consultant

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 lb shrimp, large
  • 1 zucchini, large dice
  • 1 fresh pineapple, large dice
  • 1 orange bell pepper, large dice
  • 2 shallots, large dice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (for grilling)
  • 1 Pkg Bamboo skewers

Tennessee Honey Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

  • 1 Cup ketchup
  • 1 Cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey
  • 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 Tsp ginger, finely minced
  • 1 Tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tsp, spicy mustard
  • 1/2 Tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 Tsp black pepper, to taste

Suggested garnish:

  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp sliced scallion

-In a medium saucepan combine all sauce ingredients; bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, until thickened. Remove from fire once thickened.

-While the sauce cooks, prepare each skewer. Stack each skewer with zucchini, orange bell pepper, shallot, diced chicken, pineapple and shrimp in your desired order. Brush each skewer lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with black pepper and salt.

-Grill each side for 7- 10 minutes, or until desired char.

-Brush each skewer with sauce until fully coated and grill for an additional 2-3 minutes on each side.

-Garnish with a choice of fresh chopped parsley or scallions

Chef Vincent Reuel’s Korean Gochujang Sticky Ribs

@reuelvincent, Chef De Banquet, Aspire/One World Observatory, NYC

Ingredients:

Dealers Choice on the ribs: St. Louis-Style Ribs or Baby Back Ribs

-Pat dry ribs and the peel membrane from bones side, by using a dry paper towel.

Wet Rub for Ribs

  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup of soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of honey

Preparation:

-Mix wet rub ingredients together in a large bowl. Massage into ribs. Let sit for ten minutes.

-In a half baking sheet pan, place a resting rack—adding about 2 cups of rice wine vinegar at the base. You can line the base of the sheet tray with aluminum foil to make clean up easier. If a resting rack is not available, place ribs directly on the sheet tray—rib side down (OK if they overlap).

-Cover ribs with parchment paper, then with foil. Seal tightly. Cook ribs at 350 F for 2hrs.

-Once fully cooked and tender, brush on the Gochujang sauce (see recipe below).

-Finish ribs on the grill or in your oven. Brush occasionally with sauce until desired color and stickiness. Keep in mind that the Gochujang sauce has sugar so caramelization will come quickly; in other words, keep an eye on them ribs before they burn.
-Finish with finely chopped scallions—this is guaranteed to slap.

Gochujang sauce

  • 1 1⁄4 Cup orange juice
  • 1 1⁄4 Cup Gochujang
  • 2⁄3 Cup sweet chili
  • 3 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1⁄2 Cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2⁄3 Cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Aromatics:

  • 1 knob of sliced ginger
  • 4 scallions, rough chop
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2p Pcs Star Anise
  • 5 pcs Cloves
  • 6pcs Allspice

Gochujang Sauce Preparation:
-In a saucepan, add all the aromatics with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil and sauté until fragrant and lightly-colored.
-Add Gochujang, and turn fire down too low for 4 minutes. (Chefs note: keep stirring constantly, scraping the bottom. it will have the tendency to stick.)
-Add orange juice and reduce by half on low to medium heat. Add in the rest of your ingredients and simmer on low for 10 to 15minutes until the sauce becomes thicker.
-Add 2 Tbsp of butter and whisk till it’s emulsified, giving the sauce a nice shine.

-Then, strain and you’re done.

Chef Aristide’s Coconut Curry Shrimp

@chef.ariwms, Private Chef, New Orleans/Seattle, Washington

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. fresh, peeled gulf shrimp
  • 13 oz coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tsps lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Cups diced onion
  • 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsps curry powder
  • 2 Tsp turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf, ground
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp ground Allspice
  • 2 Tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Suggested garnish:

See Also

  • Small diced chives

Preparation:

-Devein the gulf shrimp and set aside.
-Place a 10-inch skillet on the stovetop on medium heat.
-Take the unsalted butter and place it in the skillet; let it melt until light brown.
-Whisk in the coconut milk until it folds into the butter, into a seamless liquid.
-Add diced onions and minced garlic to the skillet.
-Then, mix in all of the the dry spice ingredients into the liquid.
– Once the ingredients have melded together, add the shrimp.
-Baste the shrimp as it simmers in the skillet for 6 minutes, or until desired temperature.

-Salt to taste.
-Finish with lime juice and chopped chives.

Chef Malikah Shavonne’s Crunchy Rainbow Slaw with Champagne Vinaigrette

@malikahshavonne, Private Chef/ Chef Instructor, Arkansas

Slaw Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a small head of red cabbage (about 4 cups);core removed, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 scallion bunch, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced (optional)

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 Cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 2/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 Tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 Tsp ground white pepper

Preparation:
-Set aside julienned cabbage, scallions, carrot, red and yellow bell peppers in a large bowl. Add minced cilantro, if you choose.

-In a medium bowl, add Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar, and water. Whisk until frothy with bubbles.

-Continue to whisk while simultaneously adding the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Once completely emulsified, add salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside.

-Combine 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette to the slaw mixture or more to taste.

A little note on the versatility of Chef Malikah’s vinaigrette

Malikah’s vinaigrette recipe yields 1 cup—which is a lot. Use the remainder on salads or save for the slaw throughout the week. Drizzle it on pulled pork sandwiches, on the sides of ribs, or on fish po’ boys. Want to take it up and get stuck? Use cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil instead of the plain ole extra virgin kind.

Malene Younglao is a food and wine expert, a sommelier and “baby winemaker,” who’s claiming space for Black people in the food and spirits world. Follow her @myounglao.

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