Listen to Austin 360 Radio

A frugal Fourth

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Originally published on July 2, 2008.

Despite the heat and rising food costs, the urge to get outside and grill is not subsiding this Fourth of July weekend. Throwing a bunch of filets mignon or jumbo shrimp over the fire could set you back the price of a tank of gas, but grilling for a crowd doesn't have to cost so much. We asked area chefs to come up with recipes using less-expensive foods and cuts of meat to help you stretch your Fourth of July dollar.

- Addie Broyles and Dale Rice

1. Beans :

$1.15 for 1-pound bag at Randalls

The appeal of old-fashioned baked beans fills the baking dish in this staple produced by Dagar's Catering, with honey, molasses, catsup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce contributing to the flavor.

2. Skirt steak:

$3.49 per pound at Fiesta

Z Tejas' Jack Gilmore combined pungent spices, chipotles and garlic to create an asado marinade that he used to flavor skirt steak, a cut of meat that's less expensive than other steaks. Gilmore says it can be used on just about any meat.

3. Potatoes:

99 cents per pound at H-E-B

County Line co-owner Skeeter Miller let us in on the restaurants' secret potato salad recipe that's been a favorite at the barbecue joint for decades and is a cheap and delicious dish to fill out any picnic spread.

4. Chicken legs:

$ 1.69 per pound at Randalls

Adrian Corkill, executive chef of Cool River, has a two-step method that will produce tasty chicken legs on the grill without charring the outside or having the inside still rare. Flavoring them with garlic and serving with pineapple salsa turns the lowly legs into special holiday fare.

Z Tejas' Asado Marinade

2 Tbsp. fennel seeds

2 Tbsp. coriander seeds

2 Tbsp. cumin seeds

2 Tbsp. mustard seeds

1 Tbsp. onion powder

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

4 Tbsp. ground oregano

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. paprika

1 7-oz. can chipotles

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup garlic, minced

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup olive oil

4-6 lbs. skirt steak

Roast fennel, coriander, cumin and mustard seeds in a 10-inch skillet on medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. (You can use ground spices in the same amounts, too ... just don't roast them ... but the flavor will be slightly different.) Remove from heat.

Add onion powder, black pepper, oregano, salt and paprika to pan and mix well. In a blender, puree chipotles, bay leaves, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Marinate the skirt for up to an hour and cook it quickly for a couple of minutes on each side. Cut across the grain and serve. Serves 10 to 12.

- Jack Gilmore, Z Tejas founding chef

County Line's Secret Potato Salad

51/2 lbs. Idaho No. 1 potatoes (cooked, peeled, cubed)

3/4 lbs. yellow onions

3/4 lbs. celery

1 lb. dill pickle relish

11/2 lbs. 100 percent sour cream

3/4 lb. Kraft extra heavy mayonnaise

2 heaping Tbsp. coarse black pepper

1 heaping tsp. garlic salt

1 heaping tsp. celery salt

1 Tbsp. salt

paprika for garnish

parsley for garnish

Boil potatoes with skin on until you can stick a knife through them. (Watch out so you don't stab your hand.) Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and allow to cool. While you're in the fridge, grab a cold beer to knock back while you wait. Carefully peel each potato (take your time ... you've still got more cold beer to drink), cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, blend together remaining ingredients; the mix should resemble tartar sauce. Add potatoes and gently mix. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve. When serving, dust with paprika and garnish with a sprig of parsley. Serves 10-15.

- Skeeter Miller, County Line co-owner

Dagar's Special Baked Beans

1 lb. white navy beans

11/2 oz. vegetable oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 cup tomato catsup

1/2 cup honey

1/2 Tbsp. molasses

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 Tbsp. spicy mustard

4 strips bacon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cook navy beans in boiling water until semi-soft and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add oil and sauté shallots for about 4 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and sauté another 3 minutes. Add catsup and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add honey, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, salt and mustard. Combine beans and shallot mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Place bacon on top of the mixture and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour or until thick and bubbly. Serves 10.

- Dagar's Catering

Garlic Chicken Legs with Pineapple Salsa

6 chicken legs

1/2 cup garlic cloves, sliced thin

1/4 lb. salted butter, softened

Chicken seasoning (recipe follows)

2 cups chicken stock

Pineapple salsa (recipe follows)

Chicken seasoning

1/8 cup smoked paprika

1/8 cup ground black pepper

1/4 cup kosher salt

Combine seasoning ingredients and reserve.

Pineapple salsa

2 cups crushed pineapple with juice

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 large tomato, diced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine salsa ingredients and refrigerate until serving.

Make a pocket underneath the skin of the chicken legs and spread a portion of the garlic over the meat of each leg, being careful to make sure the skin covers all of the garlic so it will not be exposed to the direct heat of the pan. Rub the chicken with softened butter and liberally season with paprika-salt mixture. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat on the grill. When the pan is hot, place the chicken in it and brown on all sides. Add stock and let simmer for about 5 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the legs to the grill and finish cooking. Serve with pineapple salsa. Makes 6 servings.

- Adrian Corkill, executive chef, Cool River

Economical cuts of beef

Even with beef prices on the rise, several cost-effective cuts of meats are perfect for the grill.

Russell Woodward, senior manager of product marketing for the Texas Beef Council, offers a few suggestions: Marinating the meat overnight will increase its tenderness. Overcooking will make most cuts too tough to enjoy. Puncture the meat on both sides with a fork to tenderize it.

* Shoulder steak: An alternative to a sirloin that's a little more mild in flavor.

* Bone-in chuck: These grill up nicely as long as you don't cut them too thick. No more than a half inch, Woodward says.

* Top round steak: Marinate overnight for tenderness and keep the thickness to less than 3/4 inch. Also, cooking to medium rare will keep it tender.

* Bottom round steak: More flavorful than top round, as long as you don't overcook it, Woodward says.

* Flat meats (skirt steak, flank steak, flat iron steak): These aren't as cheap as some of the others, but they are less expensive than many other more well-known cuts. Make sure you carve the skirt steak against the grain, he says. If you don't, you'll be chewing the meat for far longer than you'd like.

- Addie Broyles

Charcoal deal

Like everything else, the price of charcoal is up this Fourth of July. Buying in bulk can save you some bucks. At Home Depot, for example, a good buy is the two-pack from Kingsford. These 21.6 pound bags of briquets are shrink-wrapped together and will fill half your shopping cart, but they can last you through several cookouts. $13.97 for more than 40 pounds of charcoal.