Spring fiesta starts on the grill

Fire up your cool-weather cuisine with some early season barbecue

Uncultivated tastesBy Eric Floyd, WAC Executive Chef 

It might still be April, but barbecue season has officially begun! In fact, many of us never put the grill away this winter. With small backyard gatherings our “new normal” over the past few months, barbecues, smokers, and firepits around the Northwest have been seeing winter constellations for the first time. Now that it stays lighter later, it’s time to join those hardy winter grillers and get cooking!

If you’re still looking for an excuse to fire up the coals—or gas—then look no further than Cinco de Mayo. Outdoor grilling is one of the best ways to prepare Latin American–inspired meats.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I spent my childhood eating a diet heavily influenced by Mexican cuisine, and it remains one of my favorites.

This time of year, my mind always drifts to dishes such as pollo asado and carne asada. I often use a flattop grill to make these amazing dishes. An added bonus of the flattop is the ability to make homemade tortillas at the same time.

But perhaps my favorite outdoor cooker is my Kamado grill. The most popular brand of these is the Big Green Egg, but there are many others available. Kamado grills are made of a ceramic shell, and their heat insulation and superior circulation place them a few steps above a standard charcoal barbecue.

I’ll cook pretty much anything in my Kamado at home, but where it really excels is with long smoke times. Ribs, chicken, pork, and beef all benefit from a low and slow cooking process, and all play a role in Mexican cuisine.

The phrase “Mexican cuisine” includes a host of different styles that are as different as the barbecue styles found across the U.S. 

Another thing I enjoy preparing on the grill is carnitas, literally translated as “little meats.” Although traditional carnitas are braised, I find that a kiss of wood smoke offers a unique and delicious finish, providing a crispy and moist combination that’s hard to beat. Plus, it’s easy to grill up some veggies at the same time, then use them for a homemade salsa. Yum!

So get outside and fire up those grills! It will bring almost as much joy to you as it does to those small groups of friends and family you invite over on a cool spring evening.

As published in the April/May/June 2021 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted April 6, 2021

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