Memorial Day weekend is upon us and with it, the unofficial start to the summer season. Pull out the bathing suits, unearth the citronella candles and light the grill, for it is time to celebrate warm weather and long days.
Because grilling is so deeply associated with this time of year, those of us without outdoor space can sometimes end up feeling just a little bit left out of the fun. So as a longtime apartment dweller, I’ve developed a handful of techniques to compensate for my lack of porch, patio or yard. If you’re in similar straits, hopefully these tricks will help you cope.
The first thing to do is get yourself a grill pan. It’s nice on the stovetop (though if you don’t have good ventilation, you might set off your smoke detector), but I find that it’s even better when used in the oven. I will often roast a butterflied chicken on a grill pan in the oven in order to get some nice crosshatched marks on my bird.
The second trick is to learn to make really good barbecue sauce. In most cases, hungry diners care more about the quality of the sauce than whether the food was actually cooked in the great outdoors.
Finally, get good at oven-roasted ribs, like these Sweet and Sticky Pork Ribs from Giada De Laurentiis. People associate them with grills and barbecuing, but truly, they are at their best when cooked in a hot oven. Best of all, they can be made in advance and simply reheated and sauced just before serving. Perfect for The Weekender.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Giada recommends marinating the ribs for no more than four hours. I find that they do fine with an overnight rest, however, which means you can prep them just before going to bed and have them ready for a lazy weekend lunch.
— You’re going to get a lot of barbecue sauce from the recipe. It keeps well and is also great on chicken. But if your household is slow to use up condiments, feel free to halve the batch.
— When they’re the main dish, I estimate about a pound of ribs for every hungry diner. If you’re serving a crowd, I suggest doubling the recipe.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available.