Summer Staff Recommendations
I just got a Big Green Egg, so I’ll be putting that through its paces all summer. I can’t wait to try smoking Shenandoah Valley Organic chicken thighs. And I know many steaks will hit the flames over the course of the season.
Octopus is a summer standby in our family. My wife, Orsi, makes fantastic Pulpo a la Gallego, a Galician-style dish that’s found all over Spain. It couldn’t be simpler or more delicious. A 1-2 lb. octopus takes about an hour to boil to complete tenderness. Chill the cooked octopus then cut into chunks and serve dressed with good olive oil and sweet Spanish paprika alongside boiled potatoes. You can also give the legs a light char on the grill and serve them warm.
Orsi and I love seafood. Langoustines are a particular favorite. They look like little lobsters. We often add them to paella and include them in mixed grills. When we do make paella, you can bet rabbit legs will be in there too. Summer! Bring it on!
Summer is the season for grilling, and grilling is one of the only ways you’ll see me outdoors in direct sunlight. My friends know I make a mean burger, so I gotta have some ground beef, and it’s gotta be the grain-fortified Irish Nature Beef Steakhouse Blend. For my friends who don’t eat beef, wild sockeye salmon fillets or Shenandoah Valley Organic chicken breasts make a great second protein on the grill.
You can bet there will be a pitcher of lemonade on the table too. When I visited Eastern Europe in late summer of 2016, I discovered people there are crazy about fresh lemonade. Almost every restaurant had a separate menu that just listed all the lemonades they make in-house. My favorite by far was the tarragon lemonade, an emerald-green potion made with fresh tarragon that was absolutely delicious. This summer I plan to recreate it using Meyer lemons, a hybrid variety that a bit less acidic than regular lemons. Cheers to Summer!
There is just something magical about eating a freshly grilled burger underneath the hot summer sun. If I’m going with Wagyu Burgers, I like to keep the toppings fresh and simple to let that lovely fat shine, and maybe top with a bit of arugula and a smoky aioli.
If we’re grilling burgers, might as well throw some brats on the grill too! I love to grill them whole, and then slice into bite sized pieces to eat with toothpicks and a spicy brown mustard dip. Kind-of a BBQ appetizer.
When my mom busts out the FryDaddy, I know we’re in for a treat. Fish frys are a summer favorite and we make sure to have all the potluck trimmings. (Hushpuppies! They are so underrated!!) In our family, the fish is usually Walleye. It’s great for frying and the sweet, white meat flakes well.
I’m pretty sure in the dictionary next to the definition for “Summer” you’ll see an ice-cold glass of lemonade. You can sometimes find late season Meyer Lemons and if you do, make a pitcher of fresh golden juice lemonade with those. Meyer Lemons are crossed with tangerines, so they have a unique flavor that is sweeter compared to conventional lemons. If it’s too late for Meyers, use conventional lemons and add a few sprigs of rosemary to your simple syrup. It brings a lovely herbal touch to the classic drink.
We’ll start seeing fresh wild huckleberries later in the summer. Although frozen hucks are just as good, I like the “pop” fresh ones add to a green salad. I add some goat cheese crumbles, to counter their sweetness. I’m not opposed to going the huckleberry pie route though. Nothing better for curing the blues than huckleberry pie ala mode in the summertime.
Summer means grilling season, so I am drawn to those items that work best over a fire. Quail is one. There are so many ways to go with accompaniments when you grill these tasty little birds. I like to pair whole semi-boneless quail with lardons, date puree, and a charred herb vinaigrette.
Grass-Fed Tri Tip Steak is a West Coast summer barbecue staple. Cut from the bottom of the sirloin, it’s super flavorful and economical too. Tri Tip is awesome for a big, family-style beach party.
I can’t think of anything I love more than Pacific NW peaches on the grill, and I can’t think of a better partner for them than Iberico Pork Presa, aka shoulder eye steak. With conventional pork, shoulder cuts usually require slow cooking, but because of Iberico pork’s lavish intramuscular marbling, you can pan-sear or grill presa and it remains extremely tender and succulent.
I love a burger in the summer too. I like to get out of the beef rut and get creative with different meats. When I use ground rabbit, which is very flavorful but lean, I cut it with Iberico pork back fat. That way I can offer my guests something as unique as it is delicious.
Speaking of different, grass-fed lamb chump, a little-known cut from the lower back above the leg, is one of the bolder lamb cuts we offer. The 6oz. steaks are trimmed and grill ready. Serve with a bright, acidic, herby sauce, like salsa verde, and you’ve got a sassy summer combo.
Summer gets pretty busy at our house. When I don’t have my act together for dinner planning, it’s wonderful to have Spanish squid in the freezer. They defrost in a flash, and after a quick sauté with lemon, garlic, and white wine, I toss them with whatever pasta we have in the pantry and dinner is ready. If we’re heading to or hosting a weekend barbeque, I keep the large tender bodies whole, stuff them with a savory sausage mix, and cook them on the grill.
On those nights when it feels too hot to eat much more than salad, I lean on our grain-fortified steaks for protein. The flat irons and NY strips are some of my favorites. Either one works well with balsamic and blue cheese in a steakhouse-style salad or marinated with lots of fish sauce and lime for a Thai-inspired approach.
When I want to be extra at our neighborhood cocktail hour, I might show up with fresh Szechuan buzz buttons to jazz up a round of Paloma or Penicillin cocktails, or a big platter of langoustines. We sell those little lobster-like sea creatures whole. Just split them with kitchen shears, toss them with butter, and sear them quickly on the grill. Picking out the morsels of sweet tail meat is a fun communal activity, in addition to being delicious. It’s a sure bet, you’ll be the life of the party.
My fiancé and I give our grill a workout in the summer. Meat, fish, chicken, veggies – they all get cooked over fire, whenever possible. Our grass-fed beef outer skirt steaks are ideal for the grill—and for fajitas. Skirt delivers the bold flavor of fancier cuts at a more affordable price. Char a few cactus pads along with it, and you have the fixings for a summer fiesta.
For a surf ‘n turf mixed grill, we look to langoustines, our newest obsession. These crawfish-size crustaceans can be grilled similarly to their cousin, the lobster (As a Rhode-Island native, lobster is dear to my heart.)
We’re always on board with classic BBQ chicken, especially when it’s Shenandoah Valley Organic chicken. Burgers are the fall back when dinner needs to be quick and uncomplicated. Our go-to is grass-fed lamb burgers from New Zealand—a classic with a twist.
I spend a lot of time spelunking in the Marx Foods Recipe Collections, which inspires me to try new things, for instance, quail. I love eating quail, but I’ve never cooked it. This recipe for Buttermilk Fried Quail strikes me as a nice change from fried chicken for a backyard picnic this summer.
Coulotte steaks are a newly discovered favorite at our house. The most marbled part of the sirloin, coulotte comes with a fat cap that helps keep it moist during cooking. In Brazil, they bend and skewer coulotte into a “U” shape with the fat on the outside and grill it to make Picanha. My grilling skills are gradually improving so I might give that a try using this recipe for Grass-fed Beef Coulotte with Pepper & Tomato Sauce.
Recently in our test kitchen we worked with several cuts of Iberico pork, and I now understand why this meat is legendary. It’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. Some of the cuts are almost beef-like. I would love to grill Pluma, the end loin, and make this smoky, tangy, Spanish Romesco sauce to go with it.
Fried squash blossoms are one of summer’s great delights. Usually, I dip them in a simple batter and fry them to a delicate crunch, but I may try stuffing them this year, tempted by our trove of Squash Blossom Recipes.
Fresh berries are another of summer’s joys. I’m no baker, but this recipe for Huckleberry Clafoutis looks like something even I could manage and a great way to showcase the wild huckleberries so prized in the Pacific NW.
I grew up eating meat in massive portions, but I’ve been eating vegetarian for the last two years. Since I joined Marx Foods this Spring, I’ve started eating meats again. (No, it’s not required, but the temptations at our test kitchen shoots are hard to resist.)
In the winter, I enjoy staying away from meats, but I can’t say no when it’s grilling season. Bring on the wings and the ribs, especially when they are Shenandoah Valley Organic party wings and Iberico pork spare ribs.
As a Pacific NW native, I am an absolute fiend for local wild mushrooms, from the morels in spring and early summer to the chanterelles that start appearing in August. I love a white sauce with morels or literally anything with chanterelles: meats, pasta dishes, omelets, breakfast sandwiches. I’ll even toss mushrooms into salads.
Dungeness crab is another summer favorite. I like to pair the sweet crabmeat with a lemon-dressed salad packed with robust greens like arugula and spinach, and veggies like fresh beets and radishes. It’s how I eat when I go camping, which I do with my partner and pup whenever I can outside. Making good food in the middle of nowhere is worth the extra effort.