Memorial Day weekend is the debut of grilling season for much of the country, but in Central Texas, many of us have been firing up the coals for months now. (Or maybe you’re a year-round griller, and in that case, I tip my long-handled tongs to you.)
I usually keep things super simple when I grill — sausages, skirt steak, ribeye steaks, hamburgers, chicken breasts, etc. — but because I hate wasting heat from those precious ash-covered charcoal briquettes, I usually throw on some kind of side dish: asparagus, broccolini, peppers, sweet potatoes or even thick slices of sourdough, which easily pick up the smokiness of the grill.
Matt Moore takes this less-is-more strategy and throws it over the back fence. The Nashville-based author has written four cookbooks, including the recently published “Serial Griller” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.99), which is packed with ideas to help you learn how to be a more confident griller and also top-notch tips and recipe ideas if you’re already a master.
This grilled Brussels sprouts salad recipe is a good example of a dish that, as a whole, might be more complicated than you’re looking for, but contains enough components that even a beginner can benefit from. Moore’s technique for making a smoked olive oil vinaigrette might be just what you’re looking for to take advantage of a smoky pit filled with a pork butt or a brisket. Or maybe you’re working with a gas grill and don’t have any wood chips, but would like to add a grilled veggie salad — without the smoked oil — to your Memorial Day menu.
Grilled Brussels Sprout-Feta Salad with Smoked Olive Oil Vinaigrette
Okay, okay, I’m finally going to “give up the goods” on this recipe. For years it has been one of the recipes served in my home that my friends request the most. Smoking the olive oil takes the salad over the top, so don’t skip the step. You’ll have leftover oil for a future use as a finishing oil or in other dressings, so it’s worth the effort. Buy the best quality brine-packed feta for this recipe too. My secret is out.
— Matt Moore
1/2 cup cherrywood chips
2 cups olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
16 large lacinato kale leaves (from 1 bunch)
1 large lemon, cut crosswise into 10 rounds and seeded
1 cup diagonally sliced celery (from 2 stalks)
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
Soak the wood chips in water for 20 minutes; drain. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled one-quarter full with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them on the bottom grate of the grill. Scatter soaked wood chips over the hot coals. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of about 200 degrees. (If using a gas grill, place soaked wood chips in an aluminum foil packet; poke several holes in the packet. Place the packet directly on burners; heat to very low, about 200 degrees.)
Pour the oil into a disposable aluminum pan and place on the unoiled grates. Smoke the oil, covered, until it has a smoky flavor, about 3 hours. Remove from the grill. (If using a gas grill, discard the packet with the wood chips.)
Whisk together 3 tablespoons of the smoked oil, the lemon juice, honey, mustard, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper in a bowl until combined. (Reserve remaining smoked oil for another use.) Set the dressing aside.
Refill the charcoal chimney starter with briquettes and light. When the briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour them on the bottom grate of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 400 to 450 degrees. Coat the top grate with oil; place on the grill. (If using a gas grill, heat to medium-high.)
Place the Brussels sprouts on the oiled grates. Grill, covered and turning occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the grill. Place the kale leaves on the grates; grill, uncovered, until charred on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the grill. Carefully place the lemon slices on the grates; grill, uncovered, until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Remove from the grill.
Remove and discard the stems from the kale leaves and coarsely chop the leaves. Toss together the chopped kale leaves, Brussels sprouts, celery and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the smoked oil dressing and toss to coat. Arrange the mixture on a serving platter, top with the lemon slices and sprinkle with the feta. Serves 4.
— From “Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection” by Matt Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.99)