Summer means cookouts and beautiful evenings spent outdoors with family and friends. When we think of grilling, meat is often the king and there is no better place to find a variety of meat than at the farmers’ market. Every week you can find beef, chicken, lamb, ribs, bratwursts and more at our Saturday and Wednesday markets.
Realizing how lucky we are to be surrounded by experts at the Durham Farmers’ Market, we checked in with Bryan Horton, field manager at Fickle Creek Farm, for his grilling suggestions. Of course, he started by chatting about beef and how to make the perfect hamburger. Simple is the best, so pick up ground beef at the market and form your own patties to grill. If you plan to add vegetables into the beef patty, such as onions, peppers or garlic, add a little extra water so that the burger stays together on the grill.
If you are looking for another option, pick up sausage or bratwurst and toss it over the warmest part of the grill. Surround it with summer squash, zucchini and onions on the indirect heat. Finally, there are plenty of steak options at the market. Horton recommends adding a strong flavor to steaks, such as green garlic. Make a cold cucumber salad to complement the meal and serve it with a mild cheese from one of the market’s dairy vendors.
Just like we patiently wait for our favorite foods to be in season, you also need to practice patience when grilling. Flipping your meat too often can cause it to dry out, so sit back and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while you wait for each side to cook.
While meat may be the king of the grill, vegetables make a strong queen. Try grilling seasonal ingredients like cabbage, leeks, radicchio, fennel and eggplant, and be sure to keep experimenting! Working in batches, grill each type of veggie until they are lightly charred and tender. Bell peppers and fennel take 8-10 minutes, while squash, zucchini, eggplant and mushrooms take about 7 minutes. Asparagus and green onions cook quickly at just 4 minutes so be sure to keep an eye on them. Talk to the market’s vendors for ideas for unique veggie combinations. Serve the veggies with mozzarella or a tangy cheese from the market. And don’t forget that you can grill greens and lettuce, such as romaine or radicchio. Cut the heads into wedges and grill for 3-5 minutes per side. Voila! You have a new spin on an old salad favorite!
Finally, what would a meal be without dessert? Right now, peaches make the perfect treat! The experts at Kalawi Farm said to cut your peaches in half, coat them with a neutral tasting oil and place them on the direct heat of the grill, cooking for 3-4 minutes per side.
Don’t be afraid to try something new on the grill! Be sure to share your suggestions with the farmers’ market vendors so you can continue the conversation about creative ways to cook and eat delicious meat and produce this season.