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Thrill of the Grill

By Case Dighero | Photos by Meredith Mashburn

Our favorite grilling recipes are often easier than you think. We’ve loaded the bases for this year’s Thrill of the Grill feature with something for everyone — Southern seafood skewers, vegetarian ideas, an epic Hawaiian dish, grilled bread and the essential smash burger recipe. Simple ideas that work brilliantly for your next open-air cocktail party, or even as a weeknight dinner with the family. Read on for some of our favorite quick and easy recipe options for your grilling pleasure. 


Shrimp and Okra Satay, Poblano-Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing

Serves: 4 to 6 | Prep, cook time: 45 minutes



1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for grill 

1/2 teaspoon lime zest plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

2 tablespoons yellow onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons (about 3/4 ounces) tequila or mezcal

1 1/2 tablespoons seeded poblano pepper, finely chopped

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 pound peeled and deveined tail-on raw 16-20 shrimp

3 ounces fresh okra, halved lengthwise (about 1 cup)


Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup oil, lime zest and juice, onion, tequila or mezcal, poblano, maple syrup, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup of this dressing for finishing. Add shrimp to bowl with remaining dressing; toss to coat. Let rest 10 minutes.


Toss okra with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Remove shrimp from dressing, then discard dressing. Thread shrimp onto 4 long skewers (presoaked if wooden) alternately with okra. Top skewers with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. 


Grill shrimp-and-okra skewers on oiled grill grates, uncovered, until charred in spots and shrimp are opaque, approximately 4 to 5 minutes, flipping once halfway through grilling time.

Place shrimp-and-okra skewers on platter, then drizzle with reserved dressing and serve immediately. 



Prepare a charcoal or wood-burning grill for dual zone cooking over high heat by pouring the coals onto one half of the grill. For a gas grill, heat all the burners, except for the far left or right side.


While the grill is heating, place the mushrooms in a large bowl and drizzle generously with about 1/4 cup olive oil, then pour the hot sauce and garlic in a medium cast iron skillet.


Add the mushrooms gill-side up over the flame. Cook the mushrooms, turning occasionally, until well browned, about 7 to 10 minutes depending on the size and type of mushroom. 


When the mushrooms are almost done, add the cast iron skillet to the indirect heat side of the grill. Add the mushrooms to the skillet as they finish. Season lightly with salt and add the butter, stirring to combine until glossy. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more hot sauce, then top with blue cheese.

Buffalo Grilled Mushrooms 

Serves: 4 to 6 | Prep, cook time: 25 minutes



2 pounds medium to large mixed mushrooms (such as morels, cremini, maitake, blue oyster and trumpet), stemmed

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons Frank’s Buffalo hot sauce

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and refrigerated

3 ounces firm blue cheese, sliced or crumbled



Huli Huli Chicken

Serves:  4 to 6 | Prep, cook time: 2 1/2 hours



1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated

4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs

Olive oil, for brushing grill



In a large bowl, combine ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar, ginger and garlic, and stir to combine. Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup of the mixture for basting the chicken later. Add the chicken to the remaining mixture, then stir until evenly coated. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.


When chicken is properly marinated, oil grill grates well, then heat to medium (for charcoal, the grill is ready when you can hold your hand five inches above the coals for 5-7 seconds). Add the chicken to the grill, cover and cook 25 to 35 minutes, turning every five minutes to keep the chicken from burning, and basting it with the reserved marinade after rotating, until cooked through. (Cook times will vary, so be sure to check for doneness by avoiding any pink meat and ensuring that juices run clear. Use a meat thermometer if you are unsure. It should be 165 degrees.) Serve immediately.

Feta-Stuffed Flatbread

Serves: 4 to 6 | Prep, cook time:  2 1/2 hours



1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

3 cups whole-wheat flour

2 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing

2 to 3 cups “00” pizza flour, more as needed

1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled


In a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups warm water and the honey. Sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir to dissolve. Gradually stir in whole-wheat flour. Stir about 1 minute. Let mixture rest, uncovered, 15 minutes.


Sprinkle salt over mixture, then combine with yogurt and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in 2 cups “00” pizza flour, then add more a little at a time until dough is too stiff to comfortably stir. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in additional flour as needed to yield a smooth and only very slightly sticky dough.


Let dough rise at room temperature in a lightly oiled large bowl, loosely covered with a dish towel, until doubled in bulk, approximately 2 hours. 


Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Chill dough balls for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. 


On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 dough ball to a 6-inch circle (keep remaining balls on a baking sheet loosely covered with a dish towel). Brush top of circle with olive oil, then top with some rough chopped garlic, basil leaves and 2 tablespoons feta. Fold edges of dough over the center of the filling and press together to seal so that filling is no longer visible. Use hands or a rolling pin to reroll dough to a 6-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough balls.


Brush both sides of dough rounds with olive oil and grill over medium-high for 7 to 8 minutes, turning halfway through or until each side has grill marks. The bread is ready to be flipped when it begins to puff and expand. Sprinkle with salt while hot, then serve.


Smash Burger Sliders

Serves: 6 to 8 | Prep, cook time: 30 minutes



Vegetable oil (for pan)

1 pound ground beef chuck (20% fat)

Kosher salt

8 slices American cheese

8 soft butter or pretzel rolls, toasted

Ketchup, mayonnaise, shredded iceberg lettuce, pickled red onions, and bread and butter pickle slices (for serving)


Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high until very hot, about 2 minutes, then lightly brush with vegetable oil. Divide ground beef into 6 to 8 equal portions (do not form patties).


Working in batches, place portions on griddle and smash flat with a spatula or cast iron weight to form 3-inch diameter patties. Season liberally with salt and cook until outer edges are brown, about 2 minutes. Flip patties, season with salt and place a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Cook until cheese melts and burgers are medium-rare, about 1 minute.


Serve patties on rolls with ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce, pickled red onions, and bread and butter pickles. We also love to serve with bread and butter pickles threaded through bamboo picks as a delicious garnish.

Wine pairings for this year’s Thrill of the Grill: 

Z. Alexander Brown Uncaged Pinot Noir has a medium body and balanced tannins with hints of toasty oak, caramel and mocha, finished with red fruits. Pair this wine with our Buffalo Grilled Mushrooms. Montinore Estate Pinot Gris is a crowd pleaser that is fresh and clean with notes of pomelo, honeydew melon, and peaches and cream. Flavors of lemon tart, green apple and citrus finish on the palate. Pair it with our Shrimp and Okra Satay. Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace Brut is pale yellow in color with a nice brilliance and fine delicate bubbles; aromas of floral and fresh fruits finish with ripe fruit flavor. It pairs nicely with our Huli Huli Chicken. Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon has aromas of cherry and plum with hints of violet and leather. The palate is full-bodied and rich with flavors of ripe blackberry, dark cherry and full tannins with notes of vanilla and spice for a long finish. This cabernet pairs perfectly with the Smash Burger Sliders.


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