Summer grilling


I was visiting a friend in town late one afternoon when I started to notice a delicious smoky scent floating through the neighborhood. People were stoking up their grills to start making supper. It was almost like a supper challenge between backyards as to who was making the best meal. Needless to say, I went home very hungry to start up my grill too.

Now, I’m not the most comfortable with grilling. I tend to throw the meat on the grill and head back to the kitchen to finish prepping the rest of the meal. The smell of smoke generally reminds me I might have been in the house a bit too long as flames engulf the burgers or steaks on the grill. That is why I checked in with my kids for their grilling tips and tricks for this week’s recipes.

Jonathon is probably considered the grill master of the crew. He started grilling for me when he was in high school. I think he was tired of overdone burgers and burnt steaks. Today he grills year-round with his Traeger grill. His favorite tool for grilling is a digital thermometer. He says his steaks are always just right and never overcooked. I’m looking for one to help me grill a perfectly medium rare steak.

According to the Traeger grill website, there are five different ranges for level of doneness. Rare is 120-130 degrees. Medium rare is 130-135 degrees. Medium is 135-145 degrees. Medium well is 145-155 degrees, and well done is above 155 degrees. You should always pull the meat off the grill at the low end of the scale as the meat will continue to cook as it sets. When you pull meat off the grill, place a tent of tin foil over the plate of cooked meat to allow the meat to set and finish cooking. 

When Katie was learning how to grill, she forgot to keep an eye on the burgers. They ended up way past 155 degrees. They were so well done that our dog Bailey wouldn’t even eat them. Katie has come a long way since then. Her favorite seasonings in her burgers are Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and onion flakes. Jonathon will add an egg to his burger meat.

Michael will grill more than just meat. He will wrap veggies in tin foil to cook on the grill while the steaks are sizzling. He is into grilling his whole meal outside. Potatoes with salt, pepper and garlic powder drizzled with a bit of oil wrapped up in tin foil is so quick and easy.

We all learned to start seasoning with Lawry salt. Jonathon has since discovered Pork Barrel BBQ seasoning and rub. In a similar way, I like to use Martin County Magic on my pork chops and other meats. It is sold by the Martin County Minnesota Pork Producers. A pork chop is naked until I use some Magic on it.

One day, I hope to venture out of my comfort zone and try grilling pizza. For now, I’m going to stick with steak, burgers and brats … the perfect summer foods.

Cheesy ‘Juicy Lucy’ burgers courtesy of the Certified Angus Beef website

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20 blend is ideal)

6 slices American cheese, cut into quarters to create four equal stacks with six pieces of cheese

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Canola cooking spray

4 buns

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper; mix lightly by hand. Form beef mixture into eight equal size balls of meat. Using two squares of parchment paper or wax paper, place ball of meat between paper and flatten to 1/4-inch thick using a heavy-bottomed skillet or pan to evenly press balls into patties.

Once patties are pressed, it is time to fill them with cheese. Spread one stack of cheese quarters over one patty, leaving about a 1-inch uncovered area around edge of patty. Place another patty on top of patty with cheese. Pinch the meat together around the edges to seal tightly. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Spray burgers with a light coat of cooking spray. Grill or pan sear over high heat 3 minutes per side. Once flipped, use a toothpick to poke a small vent in the center of the burger to allow steam to escape. Grill second side for 3 minutes.

Transfer to cool side of grill or 350-degree oven to finish cooking to an internal doneness of 160 degrees (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from grill or oven and rest at least 3 minutes to allow cheese to set before eating.

Tequila fajitas courtesy of the Certified Angus Beef website

1 3/4-2 pounds flank steak, cut in half lengthwise

2 limes

1/2 cup tequila

3 garlic cloves, chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

8 flour tortillas

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved and/or 2 ripe avocados, diced

3 tablespoons Triple Sec

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Zest limes, reserving zest for later. Juice limes.

Combine tequila, lime juice, garlic and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Marinate steak in zipper-locking plastic bag for 2 to 4 hours in refrigerator.

Preheat grill to high. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Season steak with salt and pepper. Grill to desired doneness. Let steak rest 5 minutes and slice thinly across the grain.

Grill jalapenos flesh side down until charred and slightly soft; mince and combine with steak strips.

Wrap tortillas in foil and place on top shelf of closed grill to warm. Combine tomatoes/avocados, reserved lime zest and Triple Sec. Heat remaining olive oil in large sauté pan. Turn off heat, add tomato mixture and toss gently. Add steak mixture and cilantro; toss gently to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with warm tortillas.

As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.


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