Summertime Barbeque

A barbecue party is an awesome social event: laughing with your friends, grabbing beers out of the cooler, sharing big bowls of snacks. Everything is going great… until you get to the main course. Instead of flirting with the cute blonde, you’re now hunched over in a lawn chair with a paper plate balanced on your knees, sawing at a hunk of seared flesh with a plastic steak knife. Damn. If you want to keep your guests’ culinary commitment to a minimum but their enjoyment maxed out, here are a couple easy finger foods that go great on the grill.

Moroccan Lamb Skewers with Yogurt Dipping Sauce
Cut a lamb loin in strips (about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick) and skewer them with wooden shish-kabob skewers soaked in water. I like to use a Moroccan spice blend: cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, ground fennel, paprika, cayenne (not too much), onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and a little oregano. Oil the meat and toss it on a super hot grill for a few minutes on each side. When they’re at the perfect temperature, pull them off and let them rest for a few minutes. On the side, make a simple tzatziki for dipping.

Tzatziki Dipping Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic
1 peeled and seeded cucumber
15 mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare, just pulse the ingredients in a food processor or blender.

Chicken Satay with Homemade Peanut Sauce
Cut up the chicken breast into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Skewer the chicken on wooden skewers soaked in water. For seasoning, sprinkle on just a little salt and pepper as the peanut sauce will do the rest.

Homemade Peanut Sauce
2 tsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger
3 Tbsp. garlic
1 cup sliced green onions (tops only)

Lightly sauté ingredients in a saucepan, and when you have the aromatics going—just before you get color—deglaze with 1/2 cup sweet rice wine vinegar and let it reduce a bit. Then add in the final ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
two limes (juice only)
1 tsp. honey
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 tsp. Sriracha sauce

Puree all ingredients in a food processor.

Brian Menges is the chef, owner, and sommelier at Second Street Bistro in Livingston.