Summer is here! Finally! What better way to enjoy the summer sun than with a good cookout. I had the opportunity to interview Chef Billy Parisi, celebrated Midwest chef and personality to learn his secrets for summer grilling, including “grilling math”, a Chef Parisi signature! Chef Parisi graduated from Arizona’s Scottsdale Culinary Institute and the University of Missouri. He’s also logged several years as line cook, sous chef, and executive in some of the Midwest’s finest restaurants. Parisi has served as the faces of fixmyrecipe.com, Lowes Foods, Heinen’s Grocery Stores and Sears Holdings Corporations. Parisi has been featured on several national TV, radio and print mediums, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, DIY network and Comcast On-Demand.
Check out my interview below to optimize your summer grilling this season, and check out two recipes from Chef Parisi himself!
1. Grilling is a summer pastime in the US. While it’s rooted in traditional burgers and dogs, what are some of the new trends in grilling?
I feel like people are becoming much more comfortable with grilling and are starting to move more than just your traditional proteins (i.e. steak, chicken, pork or fish) – they’re moving all of their courses out to the grill to be cooked. While some things may require some prep inside or some parboiling, folks have become in love with roasting over the open flame outside. For instance people are grilling all of their vegetables, not just asparagus. Even my own family loves roasting potatoes on the grill for a delicious smoky flavor. A big trend that I am starting to see is people preparing desserts on the grill. Grilled Peaches and mascarpone cheese, brown sugar grilled pineapple over vanilla ice cream, I’m seeing a lot of cool things being cooked on the grill that aren’t your traditional foods.
2. What are some of the hottest veggies to expect and new grilling recipes to prepare with them?
It’s funny because it’s not like there are new breeds of vegetables out there, but for some reason people are realizing they can cook all vegetables out on the grill. Along with the big kale trend the last few years, I’ve been seeing people venture out into other leafy greens like beat greens, dandelion greens and chard. All of these can be lightly coated in oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and slightly charred/wilted over the open flame for a really cool flavor. From there they can simply be cooled and tossed in a salad, or finished with some fresh herbs, roasted onions, garlic, and butter or vegetable spread to make for really tasty veggies. In addition to greens, I’m seeing radishes and kohlrabi really come to life in recipes just by simply roasting them up and and tossing them in with other grilled veggies.
3. What are some common errors to avoid while grilling?
To me the biggest common error while grilling, and it applies to sautéing as well, is becoming impatient and not letting food properly sear/caramelize/cook and jumping the gun to flip it too early. I know it’s hard when you see flames creeping through the grates and are worried your food is burning, but either tone down the flames with ice cubes, or move it to a less intense hot spot on the grill. Nothing is worse than food being stuck to the grill because people are too quick to turn it over, or a grey steak with no sear marks… my advice, RELAX. I have details about this grilling tip, plus even more tips online at www.Forkful.com.
4. I am very interested in your “grilling math” philosophy. Can you share tips on transforming a few ingredients into multiple dishes?
There are no secrets to grilling math, but much more about utilizing what you have into several different recipes. I was once told by a great chef that you are only limited by your own creativity. So, with philosophies such as this, you’ve got to dig deep and figure out all of the possibilities. When I made the different salmon dishes it was more about how to use up the salmon I have into 3 different meals i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner. Using some traditional ideas like shakshuka, crab cakes and simple tomato sauces, and then putting my own twist on them, I was able to come up with 3 really tasty and completely different dishes using only 9 ingredients.
5. Drawing from your days at fixmyrecipe.com, how do you suggest we spice up the average grilling sides?
Oh WOW – you are going back some years pulling out my Fix my Recipe days! To enhance some average grilling sides you can do a few things to help kick off the flavors, and it starts with salt and pepper. I know, seems boring but make sure things are properly seasoned. From there I’m a huge fan of using fresh herbs, and now that summer is starting to peak through I know a ton of people grow a lot of their own herbs, so now you have the opportunity to utilize them in your side dishes. For example you can kick up a plain coleslaw by adding in some fresh dill or perhaps some fresh cilantro. In addition you can make pesto grilled potato salad instead of a traditional mayonnaise based recipe. The last thing you can do is add some fat to your side dishes with bacon, prosciutto or pancetta. All of those can really enhance a side dish and help to take it to that next level. Just like I always say either you like bacon or you’re wrong!
6. What is your favorite food to cook on the grill? And to eat…
NO, don’t do this to me. It’s impossible to pick just one! But fine I’ll do it. I don’t think there is anything I enjoy eating more than a big fat juicy New York Strip. It’s perfectly lean, perfectly marbled and when medium-rare, always delicious! No need for a fancy sauce, just salt and pepper will do the trick!
7. Can you share some of your favorite recipes for this summer with my readers? (Note: Chef Billy prepared these recipes on behalf of ConAgra Foods).
MAIN DISH: Tomato-Soy Shakshuka with Grilled Salmon
- ½ small diced sweet onion
- 1 tablespoon of finely minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 28 ounce can of Hunt’s® Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes, undrained, crushed with your hands
- zest of ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon of La Choy® Soy Sauce
- two 4 ounce fresh salmon fillets
- 2 eggs
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Preheat the grill to high heat.
- Place a cast iron skillet on hot grill with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and caramelize the onions and garlic. Once they are brown add in the tomatoes, lemon zest, soy sauce and salt and pepper and let it stew on high heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
- While the sauce is half way through the stewing process, coat the salmon with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on a hot spot on the grill for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until grill marks are formed and it is cooked through.
- When the salmon is flipped for the first time, add 2 eggs right to the top of the shakshuka sauce in the cast iron skillet and close the lid on the grill and cook until the desired amount of doneness in the eggs is achieved.
- Serve the salmon on top of the eggs and shakshuka sauce. Optional: Serve with crust rolls.
SIDE DISH: Grilled Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing
- 3 pounds of baby Yukon gold potatoes
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ thickly sliced sweet onion
- 6 strips of thick cut bacon
- 1/4 cup of roughly cut fresh dill
- ½ cup of sliced green onions
- ½ cup of mayonnaise
- ¼ cup of Gulden’s® Spicy Brown Mustard
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Serves 6 to 8
- Preheat the grill to high.
- Add the potatoes to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 8 minutes or until just before al dente.
- the potatoes and add them to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add them to the grill, to slightly char and finish cooking.
- While the potatoes are cooking, coat the onion slices in the remaining oil and add them to the grill to roast.
- Once the potatoes are slightly charred and cooked through, remove them from the grill along with the onions and chill.
- Next add the bacon strips to a cooler part of the grill and cook until crispy. Note the bacon will cause a lot of flames so constantly be turning them and moving them. The bacon will also cook very fast.
- Once the bacon is cooked, remove and chop.
- In a large bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and apple cider vinegar until combined and add in the potatoes and onions once cool along with the bacon, dill, green onions, salt and pepper and toss and chill. Serve cold.
Here’s to some great summer weather and grilling ahead! Bon Appétit!