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Meatless Grilling

Sooner or later, a vegetarian will show up at your cook-out, look into your carnivorous eyes, and ask to be fed. Don't be caught flat-footed as a host. This meatless menu preempts the politically correct and will have even the most unrepentant meat-eaters sniffing the air hungrily. First up, flame-seared Portobello Mushrooms topped with cheese, the vegetarian equivalent of a cheeseburger. Reminiscent of a grilled steak is ginger-studded Grilled Tofu. And finally, Steven presents a smoky, revamped version of an American classic, Macaroni and Cheese with Fire-Roasted Onions.

With Miso Mayo

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Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 4
Advance Preparation: 1 hour for marinating the tofu

2 blocks extra-firm or firm tofu (1 pound each)
1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine; or cream sherry)
3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white miso
1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste
2 teaspoons grated or finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
∏ teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or rice vinegar, or more to taste

Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut each block of tofu in half through the side to form a total of 4 broad, thin "steaks." Blot the rofu steaks dry with paper towels. Cut the piece of ginger crosswise into 8 slices, each 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut each ginger slice into 5 slivers (you'll have 40 in all). Insert 4 slivers of ginger into the top and 5 slivers into the bottom of each piece of tofu; they should go right in, but if you need to, make starter holes with the tip of a skewer. Place the tofu steaks in a baking dish.

Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and black pepper in a small nonreactive bowl and whisk to mix. Pour this mixture over the tofu, turning the pieces to coat with the marinade. Let marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 hour.

Place the mayonnaise, miso, sugar, grated ginger, garlic, lemon zest, and pepper in a food processor and puree to a smooth paste, scraping down the side of the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula. With the motor running, add the oil and lemon juice through the feed tube. Taste for seasoning, adding more sugar and/or lemon juice as necessary; the sauce should be sweet with just a hint of tartness.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Place the marinated tofu on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Pour any leftover marinade over the grilling tofu, dividing it evenly between the 2 sides. After turning each piece of tofu, spoon a little miso mayonnaise over it. Transfer the grilled tofu to a platter or plates. Serve the remaining miso mayonnaise on the side.


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Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 6
Advance Preparation: 1 to 2 hours for marinating the mushrooms

6 large Portobello mushrooms (each 4 to 6 inches across, 8 to 10 ounces each)
3 large cloves garlic, cut into matchstick slivers
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons A.1. steak sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves, thinly slivered, or 2 teaspoons dried basil
6 thin slices Cheddar or Jack cheese (about 6 ounces total)
6 hamburger buns, lightly brushed with a little olive oil or melted butter
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Boston lettuce leaves (optional)
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and/or relish

Using a paring knife, trim the stems off the Portobellos. Wipe the caps clean with a damp paper towel. Using a sharp object, such as the tip of a metal skewer, make a series of holes in the gill side of the mushrooms, about 1 inch apart. Insert the garlic slivers into these holes, dividing them evenly among the 6 mushrooms.

Combine the mustard, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Whisk in the olive oil and basil. Pour one-third of the mixture in the bottom of a nonreactive baking dish and place the mushrooms in it, gill side up. Swish the mushrooms around to coat the bottoms with marinade. Spoon the remaining marinade over the mushrooms. Let them marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Set up the grill for direct grilling using a two-zone fire. Preheat one zone to high, and the other zone to medium so you can move the mushrooms over if they start to burn.

When ready to cook, drain the mushrooms over a small nonreactive bowl to reserve the remaining marinade. Place the Portobellos on the hot grate, gill side down, and grill for about 3 minutes. Turn the mushrooms over and spoon 1 tablespoon of the reserved marinade into each cap. Continue grilling until the Portobellos are browned and very tender, about 4 minutes more. The mushrooms are done when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. If they start to brown too much before they become tender, move them over the medium zone of the grill. After the mushrooms have grilled for 2 minutes on the second side, place a slice of cheese on each and cover the grill to melt the cheese. Lightly toast the hamburger buns on the grill, 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve, place each grilled Portobello on a hamburger bun. Garnish with tomato and onion slices, and/or lettuce, if using, and the condiment of your choice.

With Grilled Onions, Chiles, and Corn

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Source: BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct and indirect
Yield: Serves 4

Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
2 cups (about 8 ounces) elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 New Mexican green chiles or Anaheim or California peppers, or
2 to 4 poblano peppers
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups half-and-half, light cream, or milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated smoked cheese, preferably smoked Cheddar
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (preferably homemade)

You’ll also need:

A cast iron skillet, aluminum foil roasting pan or drip pan, or grill-proof baking dish (about 9 by 12 inches), sprayed or brushed with oil; 2 cups wood chips or chunks (optional; preferably hickory or oak); soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

Bring 8 quarts of lightly salted water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a large colander, rinse with cold water until cool, and drain again. Toss the macaroni with the oil to prevent sticking.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

When ready to cook, lightly brush the corn and onion with half of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Place the corn and onion on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes in all) for the corn, and 3 to 4 minutes per side (9 to 12 minutes in all) for the onion, turning with tongs as needed. Add the chiles and peppers to the hot grate and grill until the skins are charred, 3 to 5 minutes per side (6 to 10 minutes in all) for the New Mexican chiles, or 3 to 5 minutes per side (12 to 20 minutes in all) for the poblano peppers, and 4 to 6 minutes per side (16 to 24 minutes in all) for the bell peppers. Transfer the corn and onion to a cutting board and let cool.

Transfer the grilled chiles and bell peppers to a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes (the steam trapped by the plastic wrap helps loosen the skin from the peppers). Scrape the skin off the cooled peppers, then core and seed them.

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs using lengthwise strokes of a chef’s knife. Thinly slice the onion quarters crosswise. Cut the chiles and peppers into 1/4-inch dice. The recipe can be prepared to this stage up to 2 days ahead.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until soft but not brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels and grilled onion, chiles, and bell peppers. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the half-and-half and increase the heat to high. Let the mixture boil for 3 minutes, stirring well; it should thicken. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mustard and cooked macaroni, followed by the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste; the mixture should be highly seasoned. Spoon the macaroni and cheese into the cast iron skillet or oiled aluminum foil pan. Sprinkle the top of the macaroni with the bread crumbs and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter over the bread crumbs. The recipe can be prepared to this stage up to 24 hours ahead.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium-high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks, if desired, on the coals.

When ready to cook, place the macaroni and cheese in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the macaroni and cheese until the sauce is bubbly and the top is crusty and brown, 40 minutes to 1 hour. Serve at once.

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