A few weeks ago, Stu and I were attempting to entertain some friends on the roof deck with grilled pizza and veggies. Not only was it too humid, so our pizza didn’t work out, but our grill nearly collapsed!

Last year I snagged a $20 charcoal grill from a thrift store in Philly. It served it’s purpose for one season, but it spent the winter buried under a few feet of snow, and has turned to rust. We put off buying a new grill for a while, risking the rust and the decaying bottom. I figured that when one of the legs caved in while we were grilling that it was probably time to buy a new grill, and make this one an investment.

We headed to Target and snagged a Weber charcoal grill for about $80. This was after a suggestion from a co-worker. It’s quite an improvement from our low-to the ground grill, Old Rusty. We also spent a few bucks on some accessories, like this awesome veggie-grilling-tray from KitchenAid for $20.

We got right to grilling on Saturday night. I looked up a few different recipes and planned a meal. Click on the link below to see what I whipped up.

In the May issue of Real Simple Magazine, there was a section entitled “Take it Outside,” which listed multi-course meals to cook on the grill. I didn’t want to use all of the recipes from the same spot, so I started here and worked my way through the sides.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
From Real Simple Magazine, May 2010

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
8 clovesgarlic, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
koshersalt and black pepper
6 pouds bone-in chicken pieces

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, garlic, paprikia, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Divide the buttermilk mixture and chicken between 2 large resealable pastic bags. Let marinate in the refrigerator, turning the bags occasionally, for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Heat grill to medium -low. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill, covered, turning occasionally until cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.

I changed the recipe a bit. First off, do not ever fret if you don’t have buttermilk on hand. It was a required ingredient for a few recipes that I worked on this weekend, and instead of spending money on milk that you only use for cooking/baking and will probably go bad before you use it up, you can make buttermilk! Add one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of milk. It sounds gross, but it does work.

Aside from the DIY buttermilk, I used chicken breasts instead of bone-in chicken pieces. It is my goal by the end of 2010 to actually cook a part of the chicken aside from chicken breasts, I just haven’t gotten there yet. When I do, you will all be the first to know.

This was a very simple and tasty marinade recipe. It is also very versatile. I am looking forward to when I can try it with the legs, thighs, etc.

Up next was the side dish. The May issue of Bon Appetit Magazine also has a great section on grilling for the “Ultimate Summer Menu” with mix and match courses. I chose a recipe in which I could utilize some of the Spring produce from the CSA share this week.

Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Verde
from Bon Appetit Magazine, May 2010

sauce verde:
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 green onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons (packed) fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound green beans, stemmed and trimmed
12 ounces of zucchini (I used two), halved lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wide strips
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves (for garnish)

Sauce verte: Blend the first 7 ingredients in processor until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Process until coarse puree forms. Season sauce verte to taste with salt and pepper.

Vegetables: Heat oil in a heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetables; stir until coated. Cover; cook vegetables until almost crisp-tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Uncover; cook until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in enough sauce verte to coat vegetables generously. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve.

I skipped the sauteeing of these vegetables, brushed them with olive oil and sent them straight to the grill. Whipped up the sauce verde and brushed it over them once they came off. Tasted. Like. Candy. And there was plenty of left over sauce, which can be used with salads, chicken, fish, or couscous!

Finally, every good outdoor grilling dinner needs a good potato salad. And who better to turn to than Ina Garten? Need I say more?

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
From Barefoot Contessa at Home

3 pounds small red potatoes
kosher salt
1 cup good mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip, I think.)
1/4 cup buttermilk, milk, or white wine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup medium-diced celery
1/2 cup small-diced red onion

Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife.  Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a celean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 miuntes, until tender but firm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, Dijson and whole-grain mustards, dill, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on their size. Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl and pour enough dressing over them to moisten. (As the salad sits, you may need to add more dressing.) Add the celery and the red onion, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to blend.

By now I should know how to make a good potato salad without looking at a recipe, but this was my first of the summer and I needed a refresher course. I halved this recipe, as it was only Stu and I, plus I only had 5 red potatoes on hand. It was just enough, with some leftovers. Please! Do not be afraid to limit the salt in this recipe! There is already plenty of flavor from the mayo, mustards, and dill. I felt like I used a lot of salt as is, and I cut back a ton! Feel free to get crazy with the dill and red onions, and add other vegetables if you’re comfortable.  I think a good potato salad has a lot to do with getting a little creative and varying from the norm.

After adding some skewered veggies to our chicken, side, and salad, we had a yummy four-course meal. Washed it all down with some Cigar City Jai Alai IPA courtesy of Hawthorne’s for Philadelphia Beer Week! What a meal, what a night. Can’t wait for next weekend!