The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Grilled tuna

From Chef Charlie Cicero, executive chef of Buckley’s Great Steaks in Merrimack and co-founder of competitive barbecue team Mighty Swine BBQ with Chef Alan Lantz. 
4 6-ounce tuna loin
¼ teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
½ tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Place olive oil, crushed garlic, chopped fresh thyme, chopped rosemary and red wine vinegar into a Ziploc bag with tuna. Marinate for up to three hours. Remove, and wipe off excess marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over a medium, direct heat. Cook until rare.

Fire up the grill
Tips for your backyard barbecue


 When you break out those burgers and brats for your grill, don’t be afraid to try something new, too. Bored barbecuers often come to Craig Muccini, manager at The Flying Butcher in Amherst, for fresh ideas.

“Always, people are asking for ideas,” Muccini said. “They get tired of the same hamburgers, hot dogs, sirloins, rib-eyes.”
Muccini and Charlie Cicero, executive chef of Buckley’s Great Steaks in Merrimack and co-founder of competitive barbecue team Mighty Swine BBQ, share some tips for your backyard cookout. 
Pass the veggies
Meat and grilling go hand in hand, but don’t forget to add grilled vegetables to the menu. Cicero recommends grilling up your garden for a flavorful cookout.
“I love grilled vegetables. It makes such a great flavor on your grill,” Cicero said. “I don’t think enough people grill their vegetables.”
Tomatoes and peppers are a great start, but Cicero recommends asparagus and onions, too. He prefers to cut his onions thick, along with zucchini and summer squash cut lengthwise into thick strips. For more flavor, he’ll add olive oil to his veggies before grilling them, as well as salt, pepper and a little garlic. Meatier veggies like portobello mushrooms and eggplant also go great on the grill, Cicero said.
Mighty meats
Gourmet burgers are trendy in the restaurant world, but backyard grillers are getting creative, too.
“Some people put ground bacon in [the patty], some people get some cheese involved,” Muccini said. 
If ground bacon sounds like too much of a heart attack, Muccini recommends incorporating diced peppers and onions into the patty.
“A lot of our customers put together topping bars … [to] let people make their burger their own.”
And those aren’t just topping bars with slices of American cheese and pickles — Muccini said people are offering toppings like chutneys, heirloom tomatoes and portobello mushrooms. 
“Don’t be afraid to put a nice manchego on the burger,” Muccini said. “Some of those nice cheeses you enjoy with wine are wonderful on top of the burger.”
Barbecue chicken is another summer cookout classic, and it’s easy to grill, too. For flavor, Cicero recommends skipping the breasts and grilling the legs and thighs instead.
“Those are the best for the grill; they have some fat to them, they have some flavor,” he said “I would just rub them, put them on the grill, and put them in indirect heat.”
Another tip: don’t pre-marinate the chicken in a sauce (that will cause the chicken to char and burn). Instead, brush on your sauce during the last 10 minutes it’s on the grill.
“I usually start with a rub and I finish with a sauce,” Muccini said. “Typically that way you can get the flavor from the rub and the sauce.”
For a more adventurous griller, try ribs or pulled pork. You don’t need a smoker or other fancy barbecue equipment. Brisket would be difficult, Cicero said, but ribs aren’t impossible.
“The ribs, if you do them on a grill, it just takes more time and more practice,” he said. “You  have to build a small fire and keep it to one side of your grill. The whole idea of barbecue is to cook it slow.”
If you really want to impress the neighbors, grill fish as an alternative to steak. Cicero said that he likes to prepare fish with a rub, Mediterranean spices or a pan sauce using garlic, oil and sherry vinegar.
“If you’re just starting out and never cooked fish before, I’d say [make] something like a swordfish, scallops, even tuna — like a big steak fish. Something that can handle the heat, the smoke and the flavors,” Cicero said. 
Is it ready?
Muccini said one of the biggest mistakes grillers make (particularly with chicken) is that they’re overcooking the meat.
“Most home cooks don’t use a temperature gauge,” he said.
As a competitive barbecuer, Cicero said that he and Mighty Swine BBQ co-founder Alan Lantz (who also happens to be the executive chef of Surf in Nashua) learned a few tricks along the way.
“We went into it blind; we had no idea what we were doing,” Cicero said. “You learn how to cook meats to the proper temperature. … Certain things like brisket you want to cook to 200 degrees. At that point, that’s when everything breaks down and it starts to get tender and it’s just perfect.”
Cicero recommends even backyard grillers use a thermometer “for optimal flavor,” he said. “Believe it or not, you want the chicken thighs and legs to get to 180 degrees, and that’s when they start to break down.” 
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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