EAT

 

After three summers living in the South I’m still not used to the heat, but I have learned that no matter how high the mercury rises, it’s always prime time for grilling. “I have always found that it brings people together,” shares Greig McCully, owner of Augusta’s Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills, which sells everything from rubs and grills to custom outdoor kitchens. “You spend quality time and have real conversations while you’re cooking, in a way that you don’t just sitting down for a meal.”

It’s a powerful reminder that often the meals we enjoy are more about the company than the food. In the spirit of gathering friends and family to enjoy summer—in all its grilled, smoky and juicy glory—McCully shares his go-to grills, the cut of meat you need to cook now, tips for mastering steak, and the gadget he can’t cook without.

Go-To Grills

For newbies looking at gas grills, McCully recommends Weber for its entry-level price point and reliability. If you prefer charcoal, opt for a kamado grill—you’ve likely heard of the Big Green Egg, but the Kamado Joe is similar, costs less and includes everything you need to get started. Looking for something more sophisticated? The Memphis Grills pellet smoker is lauded for its extraordinary temperature range, from low and slow smoking to hot and fast grilling.

Brisket Bliss

Southern barbecue is synonymous with pork, but McCully has noticed a trend towards beef, including hangar and skirt steaks, roasts and brisket. To ensure the most tender brisket, follow McCully’s method. Apply a salt-and-pepper rub and Worcestershire sauce, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days. Cook the brisket low and slow until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees, then wrap it in foil—this helps hold in moisture so the brisket steams in its own juices—and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Allow for resting time—the longer you let larger cuts rest, the better.

Mastering Steak

The question McCully and his staff are asked most often is, ‘How do I cook this?,’ especially steak. Here are his top tips:

• Keep the seasonings simple, like salt and pepper or a beef-specific blend

• Know what the internal temperature should be

• Have a reliable temperature gauge (we’ll get to that next)

• Take the steak off the grill before it’s done and let it rest—it will keep cooking for another 10 minutes

For more hands-on grilling inspiration check out Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills’ online calendar of free classes, which cover everything from wood-fired pizzas to competition-style ribs.

The Gadget McCully Can’t Cook Without

To know when something is cooked, you’ll need to invest in a quality instant read thermometer, like the best-selling Thermapen. It’s not exactly a bargain, but it is the most accurate and fastest temperature gauge on the market (reading in under two seconds), which is why it’s the go-to tool for competition chefs and serious backyard cooks.

 


 

Lagniappe
“A little something extra”

Spicy Thai Nut Butter Sauce

“I love sauces on everything—the spicier the better,” shares Jaime Foster, founder of NaturAlmond almond butter and Georgia Grinders nut butters. This Thai-inspired, almond butter-based sauce works on anything you want to add a spicy, creamy kick to, but some of her favorite uses include drizzling it over chicken skewers, serving it over pasta and using it as a base for Thai pizza.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup NaturAlmond almond butter (or Georgia Grinders nut butter of your choice)

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce

1 ½ tbsp.
brown sugar

1 ½ tbsp.
fresh ginger

2 tbsp. lime juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

½ tsp.
chili flakes

1 tsp. red curry paste

1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Sauce can be made up to one day ahead of time, and will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days.


 

Sip

Rosé is all the rage, but there was a time before the blush-hued wine commanded trending hashtags like #roséallday and #yeswayrosé, and before terms like “brosé” (a guy who drink rosé) and “frosé” (a frozen rosé cocktail), were coined.

Before it was cool to drink rosé, it had a stigma to overcome in the United States. “There has been a big misconception about rosé wines in that they are all sweet. Nothing could be further from the truth,” says Roger Strohl, owner of The Vineyard Wine Market, which sells close to 60 different rosés. As with all wines, there are many different styles of rosé, and the grapes, climate and winemaker’s technique all influence the final product’s structure, flavor profile and color. “It is always fun to see the surprise on people’s faces when they are expecting sweet but they taste dry,” Strohl adds.

Another misconception is that rosé is made from pink grapes, which don’t exist. “When all grapes are juiced, the juice that runs out of the fruit is clear,” Strohl explains. Rosé gets its pink hue from the skins of red grapes, and its final shade depends on the grape varieties and how long the skins stay in contact with the juice. There are some rosés that are made from blending red and white wines, but the method of separating the juices from the skins and letting the wine “bleed” off into barrels or tanks to ferment is more common.

I first discovered rosé in the south of France, where Côtes de Provence wines are characterized by their pale color and refreshing flavor profile. The local lifestyle of taking time to sit outside and enjoy a simple pleasure like a glass of wine inspired the name of my food blog, Glass of Rosé (glassofrose.blogspot.com). While Provence remains one of the best-known producers, regions all over the world are also making beautiful rosés. Read on for my recommendations and grab a bottle—or a box or a forty, those are things now, too—and get ready to view the world through rosé-colored glasses.

Glass of Rosé’s Best Bottles

Summertime Sipper

Tenuta dell’Ammiraglia Alìe
Rosé IGT Toscana 2016

This pale Italian rosé features
a blend of Syrah and Vermentino grapes, varietals that thrive in their sea-side environs of Southern Tuscany. Its notes of grapefruit and citrus makes it extremely fresh and perfect for summer sipping, and pairs well with prosciutto, grilled fish and spicy noodle dishes.

The Other French Rosé

Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve Rosé 2015

With its just-kissed pink hue, this French rosé might match its Provençal kin in color, but it smells fruitier and has notes of wildflower honey. Pair it with antipasto, barbecued pork or grilled peaches. Bonus: The screw top makes it picnic-and beach-ready.

South African Stunner

DMZ Cabernet Rosé 2016
Pictured at right

With a burst of summer fruit
notes like strawberry and watermelon, this South African rosé is a crowd-pleaser. Its wallet-friendly price tag helps rosé fulfill its reputation as summer water, but it’s so versatile you can drink it year-round. Sip it alongside grilled vegetables, seafood and light pasta dishes.


 

Artisan

For Jaime and Harry Foster, the premise for their Chamblee, Ga.-based artisanal food business, Georgia Grinders, is simple: Create extraordinary products from simple, all-natural ingredients. That means sourcing top-notch almonds from California and pecans and peanuts from Georgia to make their line of premium, small-batch nut butters. The family-owned-and-operated business launched in 2012 with NaturAlmond, named for their best-selling almond butter made according to Jaime’s grandfather’s recipe. In 2014, they opened a second facility and expanded the product line to include cashew, peanut, and pecan butters under the Georgia Grinders label. A new production facility is slated to open by the end of the year, and the highly-anticipated pistachio and chocolate coconut butters will debut this summer.

So, what makes these nut butters so special? Those meticulously sourced nuts are slow roasted to release their essential oils and yield maximum flavor, and every batch is ground to the ideal consistency and texture. A hint of natural sea salt helps to enhance the natural flavors, but other than that, there are no added sugars, oils or emulsifiers. The result is an ultra-fresh, pure-tasting product that truly lets the ingredients speak for themselves, like the velvety, rich pecan butter which won the grand prize at this year’s Flavor of Georgia competition.

Besides spreading these luscious butters on toast (or eating it straight out of the jar), try adding a spoonful to smoothie bowls, baking them into muffins or blending them into sauces (see Lagniappe for a recipe). If you’ve got a sweet tooth, follow Jaime’s lead and drizzle some over vanilla ice cream with melted dark chocolate.

You can buy NaturAlmond and Georgia Grinders nut butters locally at New Life Natural Foods, The Fresh Market and Kroger, or online at naturalmond.com.

This article appears in the June/July 2017 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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