Latin-ize your grill
Draw on traditional cuisines to punch up the flavor for summer menus
Caribbean-style garlic-soaked shrimp: In Cuba, the native sour orange is used; here we add lime juice to simulate its flavor. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
It's easy — by drawing from the traditions of Latin America's down-to-earth cuisines, you can dial up the flavor without spending too much time in the kitchen.
For meat lovers, making Mexican-style chorizo is almost easier than finding it at the grocery store. By grilling it in patties you skip the tricky steps of sausage making, and can serve chorizo burgers with queso fresco and avocado salsa any day of the week. (Just remember to prepare the chorizo mixture a day ahead for better flavor.) Margaritas and chilled Mexican lager are a must.
Argentine cooks are famous for their savory grilled meats, and their signature chimichurri sauce accents carne asada perfectly. Make a big batch of this fresh green sauce and serve with grilled vegetables or seafood as well, for a less traditional but equally delicious idea. Try serving with a vinegar-based potato salad for a real change of pace, and pair it all with a malbec for authenticity.
The tropical flavors of the Caribbean suit our steamy summers. In our recipe for grilled shrimp al mojo, the marinade and the sauce are one and the same for easy execution and a powerful flavor punch that works on poultry or pork chops too. Serve with rice and black beans and a hearts of palm salad. Don't forget the mojitos.
Chorizo burgers with queso fresco, avocado salsa
Prep: 30 minutes
Chill: 2 hours or overnight
Cook: 8-10 minutes
Makes: 8 burgers
3 to 4 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 pounds ground pork (or turkey, or a combination)
8 burger buns or bolillo rolls, toasted
8 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1. Combine chili powder, salt, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and vinegar in a large bowl. Add the meat; combine with your hands thoroughly. Form into 8 patties, wrap well in plastic and chill to blend flavors, at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Heat grill to medium high. Place patties on the grill; cook, turning once, until cooked through (internal temperature 155), about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve on toasted rolls topped with avocado salsa and queso fresco.
Prep: 25 minutes Makes: 4 cups
2 large ripe avocados, diced
1 large tomato or 8 tomatillos, diced
1 jalapeno, diced, optional
Juice of 4 limes
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir gently without smashing. Salsa should be chunky. Taste for seasoning; serve as a topping for chorizo burgers or with tortilla chips.
Carne asada with chimichurri
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Fun fact: In Argentina, jugoso means rare, a punto means medium and cocido means well done.
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (or 1/2 cup cilantro or basil plus 1/2 cup parsley)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 large cloves garlic, whole
¼ small yellow onion, whole
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 pounds skirt steak or flank steak
1. For chimichurri sauce, place all ingredients (except steak) into a blender; blend to a smooth sauce. Taste for seasoning.
2. Heat grill to medium high. Season steak generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place steak on grill; cook to desired doneness, turning once, 10 minutes. Allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing on the diagonal. Serve with chimichurri sauce, baguettes and a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, onion, oil and vinegar.
Caribbean-style garlic-soaked shrimp
Prep: 25 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes
Cook: 4 minutes
Note: In Cuba, the native sour orange is used; here we add lime juice to simulate its flavor. This sauce is terrific on any seafood but is traditionally used for Cuban roast pork.
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon each: kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined
½ cup sliced green onions
1. Combine the juices, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup in a separate container for serving; toss the shrimp in remaining marinade; marinate, refrigerated, 30 minutes-2 hours.
2. Heat grill to medium high. Thread the shrimp on skewers. Grill, turning once, until pink and firm, about 2 minutes per side. Place on a platter; drizzle with reserved sauce. Serve topped with green onions.