The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

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Tue Sep 8, 2015

Aioli-and-Pesto Fingerling Potato Salad

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Fingerling Potato Salad

There are some neighborhood restaurants that just feel like home. It'll take some time for me to find that place in my new locale of Durham, but back in Astoria there was no question that Il Bambino played that part in my life. It's a small panini shop that opened a few years after I moved to the neighborhood, and I was instantly enamored of their excellent sandwiches, welcoming owner, and a killer cannellini bean salad with pesto that quickly became my go-to appetizer. The restaurant hasn't changed too much over the years, and while the menu fluctuates just enough to keep things interesting, my main comforts have persisted over time.

It was a sad day though when I came in and saw that the bean salad was not on the menu. In its place was an unassuming fingerling potato salad. I ordered it, skeptical any dish could replace my fondness for the bean salad, but was taken aback with just how amazing it was.

Tender and creamy fingerling potatoes were coated in a truffle aioli, drizzled with the same fresh basil pesto that made the bean salad so magical, sprinkled with sweet and crunchy fried shallots, and generously topped with delicate shavings of sharp and salty pecorino romano. One bite and I'd nearly forgotten about that bean salad.

So, when I was considering what side to bring to my first cookout I was invited to down here in NC, I felt like anything less than this particular combination of ingredients would be selling myself short. It's rather process-heavy as potato salads go, but it's worth every second of it.

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Tue Aug 18, 2015

Mustard Coleslaw

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Mustard Slaw

When getting into barbecue, I had to take a long time enemy face on—coleslaw. I knew coleslaw only as that tough, bland salad doled out in medicine cups at Greek dinners, dressed with mayo as if that would make such an undesirable side more palatable. When I became a barbecue fiend, I was confronted with slaw in larger portions, and guiltily left it remaining on my plate after finishing all the glorious smoked meats that sat next to it. It took some time, but I couldn't rightfully keep being so wasteful, so started to cautiously indulge in coleslaw, and while mostly I remained unimpressed, I came across a few that surprised me with how delicious they were. Over my many years of cooking, I made it a point to whip up some coleslaw now and again in an attempt to make it match, or better, those that I found worthy of being served with barbecue, and I'm happy to say I've finally found slaw nirvana in this unassuming mustard coleslaw.

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Tue Oct 7, 2014

Smoked Chicken Salad

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Smoked Chicken Salad

I like to fill my smoker as much as possible whenever running it—why waste good heat and space? Plus, I contend that the more meat in there, the better things seem to come out. So when I started a fire primarily to smoke only a few duck breasts to make duck pastrami, it seemed almost criminal not to throw in some additional items that I could potentially eat throughout the week. That's how this idea for a smoked chicken salad was born—to make use of that prime smoking space now and end with something that will hold in the fridge and can enjoyed over the coming week.

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Tue Jun 17, 2014

Thai Spicy Duck Salad

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Thai Crispy Duck Salad

When it comes to the run-of-the-mill Thai restaurants, you can count on me being predictable—pad kee mao and fried spring rolls is my order of choice. At the more authentic Thai joints though, I go crazy for the smorgasbord of spicy dishes that showcase the deep complexity of Thai cuisine that can span sweet to sour to tangy to bright and so much more. The standard corner Thai restaurants never really seem to achieve this in a way that piques my taste buds, which is why I stick to the almost always fulfilling broad noodles with spicy basil. There is one dish though I've found to be fairly consistently on menus at all Thai joints that starts to get at this richer contrast of flavors—spicy duck salad.

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Tue Dec 3, 2013

Charred Radicchio With Balsamic Vinegar and Bacon

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Charred Raddichio with Balsamic and Bacon

Adam Perry Lang's books are some of my favorite to flip through when I'm in need of inspiration. The photos are beautiful and recipes show a skill of building flavor and an attention to detail that makes them unique among grilling cookbooks. As much as I'm quick to shower praise on these books, the truth is I actually rarely cook from them. The same factors that make the recipes so inspirational are also a hinderance to actually making them attractive to tackle—extended ingredient lists, long processes, and uncommon techniques. So you'll find bits and pieces of influence from Lang in my recipes, but almost no recipes done explicitly step-by-step. One exception are these charred radicchio with balsamic vinegar and bacon, which is one of the more straightforward recipes from Charred and Scruffed. Lack of complexity is by no means an indicator that these are any lesser of a dish—in fact, they're an incredible combination of textures and flavors.

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