The days are getting longer, the temperatures are higher, and excitement is building…Summer is almost here! This also means that cooking techniques and center-of-the-plate items are also changing. Lighter dishes, packed with flavor, and simply prepared, now come to the forefront.
Year-round favorite, the hamburger, takes center stage. Somehow, burgers just taste better when they’re hot off the grill and adorned with a thick slice of ripe Jersey tomato. The hamburger’s trusty cousin, the hot dog, is not to take a back seat of course. A natural casing on a hot dog lends that “snap” that evokes the backyard parties and get togethers. Simple toppings like relish, sauerkraut, and onions bring their unique flavors to the fiesta. While hamburgers and hot dogs totally deserve their top positions, there are some other great summer items that often get overlooked.
Teres majors, also known as petite fillets, are steaks that are extremely tender, tasty, and versatile. Simply season with salt and pepper, grill until medium (140° F) and let rest. Slice against the grain and serve atop a Greek salad or a simple spring mix. It also makes an unbelievable steak sandwich when topped with fried onions and a creamy horseradish sauce.
For a taste of the exotic, try ground lamb. Season with grated garlic, salt, pepper, chopped mint, dill, or any of your favorite herbs and spices. Take a skewer that has been soaked in water and form a “sausage” out of the ground lamb using the skewer as a guide. Place on the grill and cook thoroughly. When done, serve with a Greek yogurt flavored with dill, lemon and garlic. This dish, known as kofta kabobs, is sure to bring the flavors of the Mediterranean right to your backyard!
Don’t let a whole fish intimidate you. Nothing is more delicious than a whole fish such as branzino that’s been prepared for the grill by your local fishmonger. Stuff with your favorite aromatics such as fennel, carrots, celery, oranges, lemons, and limes. Rub liberally with a neutral-flavored oil, salt, and pepper, and place on the grill. For a medium-thick fish, cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, gently turning once. Remove from the grill, dress with fresh lemon juice and a good extra virgin olive oil.
For individuals, these great items can be found at many retail locations in our food rich state. For restaurateurs, a USDA inspected foodservice facility, like Vrola: Center of the Plate Specialists can cut and deliver any item to spec. On-staff specialists will be able to help source these and many more items to make your summer fun, tasty, and exciting!
Joe Vrola of Vrola: Center of the Plate Specialists, is NJ’s Meat Man. Servicing leading restaurants, hotels, and institutions all over New Jersey, this third-generation butcher brings over 30 years of meat expertise to the table. From recipe development to custom fabrication as a center-of-the-plate specialist, Joe can cut, cook, and recommend the best meat option for any need.