As you fire up the grill this Labor Day, it may be worth getting in touch with your primal roots. But why not do it in style? Even the most city-bound cooks can use these recipes. How do we know? They were created and developed in the heart of Queens, N.Y.
BASIL-GARLIC BUTTER FOR LOBSTER
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pureed garlic (or more, to taste)
- 1 stick butter
- pinch of salt (if unsalted butter)
Melt butter in small saucepan — but leave on low to low-medium heat and make sure the butter doesn’t start bubbling. Add salt if butter is unsalted. Stir in basil and garlic; leave on low heat for several minutes. Place in serving dish and serve alongside lobster.
URBAN WARRIOR BARBECUE SAUCE
AND STEAK MARINADE
- Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bottle ketchup
- Crushed chili peppers
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
No exact amounts here — taste is everything in barbecue sauce, so prepare it to your own preference. Dump the ketchup into a large saucepan and add the vinegar and Worcestershire to taste — you’ll want the sauce to take on a profound reddish-brown color, so keep adding the Worcestershire until it works for you. Stir in a dash or two of olive oil, but go light on it. Next, stir in the chilies and season with salt and pepper. Let it cook on low to medium heat for several minutes, much as you might a spaghetti sauce (slow, lazy bubbling — no more than that). Then stir in the molasses, at least a tablespoon or so, but more if you prefer. (For fun, try mixing molasses and maple syrup into the sauce.) Continue to let sit uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least a half-hour. If the sauce appears to become too thick, thin it with more white vinegar.
To turn the sauce into a terrific steak marinade, prepare the sauce as above and then place 2 cups or so into a closeable container. Then add the following:
- Several dashes Louisiana hot sauce or Tabasco (to taste)
- 1 can beer, preferably cheap beer
- fresh sage leaves, finely minced or chiffonaded
- fresh thyme leaves, finely minced
- Several dashes ground mustard seed
- More salt and pepper, to taste
Close the container and shake vigorously until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. The steaks should be left to sit in the mixture for at least a couple of hours — but not more than six hours or so. The marinade can also be used to baste the steak once it’s on the grill.
VENISON MARINADE, ASTORIA-STYLE
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons minced garlic (or more, to taste)
- Several dashes of ground mustard seed
- 2 cups marsala wine, full-bodied red wine or cooking sherry
- salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a closeable container and shake vigorously. Place venison (steaks or medallions) in a low baking dish or tray — one with sides high enough to allow the meat to be mostly covered by the marinade. Pour marinade over the meat and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Leave for several hours, refrigerated. Turn the steaks over, cover again and refrigerate several hours more. The entire marinating process should occur overnight at the very least.
Jon Bonné is an editor and producer for MSNBC.com.