With the unusually mild winter most of us have had, and a warm start to springtime, grilling season seems to be coming sooner than usual. And that means all the planning has begun among dedicated outdoor cooks who want something great from their grills this year.
I find that grilling enthusiasts generally fall into one of two different camps. Some will go to great lengths, and take all the time they need, to produce delicious new dishes. Still others prefer to keep their grilling simple, even if that means relying on tried-and-true recipes.
Allow me to offer an approach that's likely to please both ends of the grilling spectrum: coating food with a flavorful glaze. All you have to do is prepare a simple glaze in advance and then, shortly before you put your main ingredient on the grill, brush it all over with that mixture, which forms a rich-tasting, slightly caramelized coating.
Glazes work especially well on quick-cooking seafood fillets, such as the swordfish in the recipe I share here. (Just make sure the swordfish comes from the U.S. or Canada; or from the North Atlantic or East Pacific Oceans for best quality. You could substitute any other fish fillets, or skewers of jumbo shelled and deveined shrimp or large sea scallops.) You can also use glazes on boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, and on not-too-thick steaks and chops. The key is to choose foods that will cook through to your liking in 10 minutes or less, so the glaze doesn't have time to burn.
For more robust choices such as red meats, you can even use some of the glaze as a marinade, refrigerating them together in a covered container for up to several hours. In that case, just be sure not to baste with any of the glaze mixture in which the food marinated, to avoid the possibility of contamination.
The glaze itself is easy to prepare, made with ingredients you probably already have in your refrigerator or pantry: citrus juices for sweetness and acidity; wine vinegar for tang; a couple of spoonfuls of marmalade to sweeten the mixture, help thicken it to coating consistency, and caramelize deliciously from the grill's heat; ginger and garlic for extra flavor; and some oil to both flavor and enrich the mixture and help keep the food from sticking. Once you've used the recipe a few times, feel free to vary the ingredients with your own favorites. It's hard to go wrong if you choose compatible seasonings you love and follow the same proportions.
In other words, this is a quick yet creative approach to grilling that you can use again and again. And, even if winter decides to make a quick return in mid-spring, you can also use it indoors on a ridged stovetop grill pan or countertop electric grill.
MARINATED SWORDFISH WITH MARMALADE-GINGER GLAZE
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