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Sizzle and smoke

July 10, 2013
By Pat Jensen , Marshall Independent

As food prices increase at a much faster rate than our incomes, many of us purchase cheaper cuts of meat - less expensive but still costly.

Once-inexpensive cuts - pork ribs, round steak ... even ground beef, cost much more than we paid two or three years ago.

There are still ways to combine frugality, fire and flavor this summer. Actually the choices best suited for grilling are the cheaper cuts. For example, ground beef that contains more fat (85 percent lean) adds sizzle and smoke to the cooking process and produces delicious burgers if cooked correctly.

Brats, hot dogs, ground pork, cheaper pork chops or pork steaks are good bets and often go on sale. If you have a hunter in your family, you probably have venison in the freezer.

Ground turkey has become popular in recent years. It's reasonably priced and can take the place of ground beef.

Chicken breasts are not easy to grill. Boneless ones get tough with just a few seconds too much - or too little - cooking, while the bone-in ones are difficult to cook perfectly throughout. On the other hand, the more reasonably priced dark meat (thighs) is much easier to grill and also very flavorful. Whole chickens thrust onto a beer can are a popular choice and budget friendly.

Money-saving options extend beyond meats. Vegetables, fruits, grilled pizzas, and fresh-caught fish taste delicious prepared on the grill.

Seasoning blends and marinades can enrich the cheapest of foods. Whatever the seasoning, everything seems to taste better coming off the grill.

Loads of flavor in every bite


Med. size fish fillets (4 walleyes)

6 to 8 T. butter, melted

1/8 tsp. liquid smoke

1/8 tsp. seasoned salt

1/8 tsp. parsley flakes

1/4 tsp. Nature's Seasons seasoning blend

1/4 tsp. Weber Seasoning (Smokey Mesquite)

Place fillets on heavy aluminum foil or use a disposable foil pan (greased). Combine melted butter with the remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over fillets. Place on gas or charcoal grill. Grill 10-15 min.

Packed with goodness you'll enjoy


1-lb. ground turkey

2 dashes Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 cup diced onion, divided

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

2 tsp. dried thyme, divided

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, divided

4 slices bacon

4 hamburger buns

Season turkey with Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper; mix gently to blend. Shape ground turkey into eight thin patties. Sprinkle on four of the patties: 3 tsp. onion, 3 tsp. cheese, 1/2 tsp. thyme and 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce. Cover seasoned patties with the remaining patties; press the edges to seal.

Place on gas grill over med. heat or on charcoal grill 4 to 6 inches from med-hot coals. Cook about 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until done.

Meanwhile, cook bacon slices (I use microwave). To toast the buns, place buns, cut-side down, on the edge of the grill for 2-3 min. Serve burgers on toasted bun, top each with slice of bacon. Provide condiments of choice. Yield: 4 burgers.

Hint: Wet hands with cold water when shaping patties the turkey won't stick to your hands.

These are sure to please


4 med. red potatoes, thinly sliced

4 small sweet onions, thinly sliced

12 fresh basil leaves

Margarine or olive oil

Seasoned salt

Black pepper

Spray 4 (12-inch) squares of aluminum foil liberally with cooking spray. In center of each, layer 1/4 of potatoes, 1/4 of onions and 3 basil leaves, torn into pieces. Dot each with margarine or drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold into smaller squares and crimp edges to seal. Grill over med. heat for about 30 min, turning once.

Variations: Substitute dried basil for fresh. Use white potatoes. Add carrots, thinly sliced.

An old favorite


1/2 cup margarine, softened

6 T. granulated sugar

6 T. brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, beat margarine until light. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. In a small bowl, blend the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread mixture into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top. Place in a 350 oven for one minute. Remove from oven. Run a knife through dough to swirl. Return to oven. Bake 12 to 14 min. Set pan on cooling rack. Cut when cool.

Food for thought: Put good food in your body and good thoughts in your head.



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