Labor Day is drawing near and you’re probably going to take some part in the quintessential Labor Day cookout, barbeque or whatever you want to call it. Now, the obligatory hamburger, sausage, steak or porkchop is always nice to have, but there are so many other things you can throw on a grill!
The good people of Smilebox have put together a list of 5 original cookout dishes that are sure to be the talk of the party – once people stop scarfing them down that is.
GRILLED CAJUN ALLIGATOR TAIL STEAK
For some shock value that is truly delicious (and good for you!) try working with this long standing deep south staple, readily available in some supermarkets and specialty stores around the US as well as online.
- 2 lbs. Alligator tail
- Cajun seasoning
- Hot sauce
- Garlic powder
- Fresh parsley
- 1/3 cup Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup Canola oil (or any other flavor-neutral oil)
- Prepare the marinade: mix oil and lemon juice with some Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt and a few dashes of hot sauce. Add finely chopped parsley.
- Cut alligator tail meat into 1-2 inch thick steaks and let marinade in the fridge for 2-4 hours.
- After marinating, Grill thoroughly, just like you would grill chicken.
- The lean, mild-tasting meat will soak up the flavors of the marinade, caramelize on the outside and be tender and juicy inside. You’ll never stop eating gator again.
MIDDLE EASTERN CHICKEN HEART SKEWERS
You’ve hade chicken breast, thigh, leg, even liver – but have you ever tried chicken hearts?! Grilled chicken hearts are a staple around the middle east and Asia. They are delicious, nutrient rich, and super easy to prepare – although not always as easy to come by…
- 2 lbs. of chicken hearts
- Baharat – Middle Eastern Spice Mixture (can be replaced with more common Five Spice or Garam Masala)
- Cut onions into quarters
- Skewer hearts and onions on a metal skewer (the aorta opening is a great guide for the point of your skewer)
- Douse hearts and onions in dry spice mixture – don’t apply salt!
- Grill until cooked thoroughly and tender, add salt when they’re ready…
- The chicken hearts go great with some fresh Tahini sauce.
BAJA GRILLED FRESH CALAMARI
Grilled Calamari is a holiday classic that takes some effort to prepare, but is worth every bit of hard work you’ll have to put into finding fresh squid and then cleaning it (if you insist on doing so yourself…). NEVER SETTLE FOR FROZEN CALAMRI!!
- Fresh, medium-sized Squids (more on that in a sec).
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Quality olive oil
- Fresh minced garlic
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Dry chilli
- Smoked paprika
- Find a fishmonger that carries fresh calamari.
- Pick the medium sized ones: approx. a foot in length and 5-10 mm thickness of the dome (which is the part you’re going to be eating).
- In case you’ve decided to prepare them for cooking yourself: pull the head + tentacles + entrails (including the ink gland) out of the dome. Next stick your fingers in there and rummage for a piece of plastic-like chitin and dispose of it. Wash thoroughly, make sure the dome is completely empty of anything and cut the “wings” off the sides of the dome.
- Prepare marinade by mixing all the wet and dry ingredients.
- Score the calamari dome with a sharp knife so all the flavors get in, then let it soak in the marinade over night.
- Simply grill from both sides until tender, you can brush it with the marinade from time to time – but be careful not to overcook! Calamari can easily go from incredible to inedible.
GRILLED HALLOUMI CHEESE SKEWERS
For the vegetarians among you – this is a special treat. Halloumi is a Greek-Cypriot brined cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It isn’t so easy to come by in the US – but well worth the effort.
- Halloumi cheese (as much as you can get your hands on…)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Quality olive oil
- Minced fresh garlic
- Dried oregano
- Black pepper
- Cut the Halloumi into 1-2 inch cubes.
- Mix Halloumi, whole cherry tomatoes and thick slices of zucchini in a bowl and coat thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Important note: Halloumi is VERY salty to begin with so taste before you add salt.
- Skewer alternating pieces of Halloumi, tomatoes and zucchini, brush with the remaining flavored oil – and throw on the grill.
- Grill until the outside of the cheese is caramelized golden-brown. This will make even the toughest carnivores in this cookout wish they were vegetarians.
GRILLED CHIPOTLE – BACON PINEAPPLE
This is a smokey-spicy-tangy-sweet and salty sin that is so easy to make – it’s ridiculous.
- Ripe, fresh pineapples to accommodate the number of guests.
- Pureed Chipotle peppers in adobo
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Quality bacon strips
- Wooden toothpicks
- Cut pineapples into quarters, leave skin and crown on!
- Let the pieces marinade in a mixture of the chipotle puree and lime juice for 2-4 hours.
- Wrap the cut sides of the pineapple with bacon strips and secure them into place on the skin with toothpicks. Make sure you leave some of the pineapple flesh exposed between bacon strips.
- Grill until the bacon is crisp and the pineapple flesh is caramelized.
- Stick all of it in your mouth.
Now that you have some new and exciting things to prepare at your Labor Day cookout, how about a new and exciting way of inviting people to come? Go to Smilebox.com and browse through our selection of Labor Day cookout/ barbecue online invitations. Pick the one you like the most, customize it with your own photos, music and text – then share it with your guests via email, text message or social media. And most importantly – have a terrific Labor Day!