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GOOD COOKING

'Cue Tips

June 25, 1992|ABBY MANDEL

Barbecuing is relatively simple, but if you're new to the grill--or if you just want some brush-up advice--here are some pointers from Russell Bry, executive chef of Chicago's Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc. and one of the country's most experienced barbecue resources:

* Always grill foods on a clean, oiled rack. Preheat the barbecue with the rack in place. Once the rack is very hot, use a metal brush to scrape the rack clean. Then wipe off the rack with an old towel dipped in corn oil.

* Always place foods to be grilled on a hot rack.

* When marinades are very oily, drain the food well to avoid excessive flare-ups.

* Since grilling is essentially dry heat, use flavored oils to moisten fish. It is much easier to spray the fish with oil than to brush it on; simply fill a clean spray bottle with oil (this method also uses less oil).

* Score thicker center portions of fish fillets so fillet cooks uniformly; this also decreases cooking time.

* To develop the appropriate smokiness in barbecued foods, use various woods selectively. For steaks, hickory, oak and mesquite woods are best. For chicken and seafood, apple, maple, cherry and alder woods are Bry's preference.

Bry also contributed the following recipes. Each involves a different, easy-to-prepare sauce. The ribs are glazed with a thick and tangy honey-mustard sauce. The grilled chicken salad uses chicken breasts in an unexpectedly spicy way. And the grilled catfish fillets have an unusual hickory flavor. Each of the sauces can be used for other preparations as well.

This is an especially good idea for hot-weather dining. The hot Buffalo sauce, balanced by the blue cheese dressing, was designed for chicken breast meat, but the sauce also works well with grilled turkey breast, shrimp and scallops.

GRILLED BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD

1/2 cup hot pepper sauce

1/2 cup tomato juice

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water

3 tablespoons margarine

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of all fat

4 cups sliced iceberg lettuce, chilled

4 cups sliced romaine lettuce, chilled

1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh-made or bottled blue cheese dressing

3/4 cup carrot strips, 1/4-inch thick, 3 inches long

3/4 cup celery strips, 1/4-inch thick, 3 inches long

12 pitted black olives

16 tomato wedges

Bring hot pepper sauce and tomato juice to boil. Combine cornstarch and water. Stir cornstarch mixture into boiling sauce. Reduce heat and bring sauce to simmer. Whisk in margarine until melted. (Can be made several days ahead and refrigerated. Gently reheat before using.)

Coat breasts with 1/4 cup sauce. Cook over hot fire until well marked on both sides and just cooked, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not overcook. (Can be made several hours ahead and refrigerated.)

Cut cooked breast meat into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Place remaining sauce in large non-stick skillet. Bring sauce to simmer and add chicken strips. Toss strips to coat and gently warm chicken. Do not overcook.

Toss chilled iceberg and romaine lettuces with blue cheese dressing and divide between 4 chilled dinner plates. Evenly divide carrots, celery, olives and tomatoes, arranging attractively on each salad. Top with warm chicken strips. Serve while chicken is warm. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

318 calories; 728 mg sodium; 45 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 21 grams protein; 2.04 grams fiber.

Here, ribs get a dry seasoning rub as well as a final glazing with honey-mustard sauce. Because the glaze is thick and shiny, the ribs appear lacquered. Have plenty of napkins on hand. Be sure to grill the ribs over indirect heat so the flare-ups are minimal. You can also use this delicious glaze on pork loin, chicken and turkey.

BBQ HONEY-MUSTARD RIBS

4 slabs lean baby-back pork ribs

Dry Seasoning Rub

Soaked hickory chips

Honey-Mustard Glaze

Sprinkle both sides of ribs with Dry Seasoning Rub.

To avoid flare-ups from fat and burning glaze, prepare hot charcoal fire so that adequate rack space to hold ribs will not be directly over fire. (Cooking may have to be done in batches, if grill space is limited.) When coals are hot, throw on some hickory chips. Cook ribs, covered, over indirect heat until browned on both sides, about 30 to 45 minutes. Can be done several hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

To finish, throw a few more soaked hickory chips on hot fire. Generously brush both sides of ribs with Honey-Mustard Glaze. Cook, covered, over indirect heat 10 minutes. Brush both sides with Honey-Mustard Glaze again. Cook 5 more minutes. Serve hot with remaining warm Honey-Mustard Glaze served separately. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about:

921 calories; 1,958 mg sodium; 132 mg cholesterol; 41 grams fat; 113 grams carbohydrates; 33 grams protein; 0.22 gram fiber.

Dry Seasoning Rub

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon seasoning salt

1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend

1/4 cup barbecue spice blend

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