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GOOD COOKING

Summer and Smoke

June 13, 1996|ABBY MANDEL

When the weather is right, barbecuing is our national food pastime. The big decision to make is the sauce. Once you've got that, it's simply a matter of choosing a tasty cut of meat and searing it on the grill to develop that smoky, complex flavor.

To make it even easier, simply doctor your favorite bottle of basic barbecue sauce. That's how this recipe for beer barbecue sauce came about. It's less cloying than the usual sauce and packs a delicious punch.

BEER BARBECUE SAUCE

1 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 onion, minced, about 3/4 cup

1 (1-pound 2-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (1 1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 cup beer

Salt

Red pepper flakes

Heat oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and onion. Cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add barbecue sauce, cumin, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, beer, salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir well. Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Can be made a week ahead and refrigerated.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Each 1-tablespoon serving contains about:

13 calories; 86 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0.09 gram fiber.

BARBECUED FLANK STEAK WITH GRILLED MUSHROOMS

1 (1-pound 4-ounce) flank steak, trimmed of visible fat, scored on both sides

3/4 cup Beer Barbecue Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Tamari)

1 tablespoon oil

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound mushrooms, stems trimmed, thinly sliced

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon butter

Flank steak is usually scored to make it more tender and also to help absorb more of the flavor of the seasonings and/or marinade. To score, use sharp paring knife to make shallow cuts (about 1/8-inch deep) in a diamond pattern on both sides of the meat. The mushrooms cook in a foil pouch, right along with the steak.

In plastic bag place flank steak, Beer Barbecue Sauce, soy sauce and oil. Turn to coat meat. Close bag next to meat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours to overnight. Before grilling, remove steak from bag, reserving marinade. Season steak with salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushrooms on sheet of foil with shallot, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper; toss to mix. Close to make airtight pouch.

Grill steak and mushroom pouch over hot barbecue about 8 minutes (steak will be rare); turning once.

Brush reserved marinade over both sides of steak. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cut into thin slices across grain. Arrange slices on warm platter. Toss mushrooms with butter and spoon over sliced steak. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Each of 4 servings contains about:

279 calories; 1,151 mg sodium; 61 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 24 grams protein; 0.71 gram fiber.

GRILLED BRATS WITH SWEET AND TANGY SAUERKRAUT

Brats and sauerkraut were made for each other, and this recipe reinforces this tradition. Buy sauerkraut in a bag in the refrigerator section of the supermarket; it has a much better flavor and texture than the canned.

1 red bell pepper, cut into small dice

1 cup minced onion

1 (32-ounce) bag sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon salt

Red pepper flakes

5 precooked bratwursts, scored

2/3 cup Beer Barbecue Sauce

Combine bell pepper, onion, sauerkraut, vegetable broth, mustard, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and red pepper flakes to taste in 10-inch non-aluminum skillet. Mix well. Simmer, uncovered, until onion and pepper are tender, about 10 minutes. Add water if mixture is too dry. Adjust seasoning. Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Serve hot or warm (gently reheated) or at room temperature.

Prepare a hot barbecue fire with a few chunks of pre-soaked mesquite wood. Grill brats until browned and hot, brushing on barbecue sauce as they cook.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

337 calories; 2,149 mg sodium; 42 mg cholesterol; 20 grams fat; 27 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 1.97 grams fiber.

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