Smart Summer Grilling with Curtis Stone

Tried and true tips from our celebrity chef for throwing the perfect family cookout.

BBQ Turkey burger

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Nothing says summer quite like firing up the grill and dining outside — it’s something I wait all year to do! To pull off fun-filled, hassle-free outdoor dinner, my mantra has always been to get as much done as you can in advance. Get the grill ready so it can become your outdoor cooktop all summer long. Set the outdoor table, prepare the BBQ sauce, and then form the burger patties and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to grill. Keep the menu simple and healthy. Swap out ground beef with ground turkey — a lighter, leaner option — as in BBQ Turkey Burgers with Homemade Pickles. Before popping patties on the grill, make a ¼-inch depression in the center of each burger to trap in flavor and prevent grill bulge. Instead of store-bought condiments, make your own, allowing you to control what’s in them. The ingredients in my barbeque sauce form my ideal balance of salty, spicy, sweet, and acidity and complement the savory, meaty flavors of turkey. Top burgers with homemade pickles that are super easy to make and require no special equipment other than a jar.

And no barbeque is complete without sweet corn. I added a few ingredients to Grilled Corn on the Cob with Parsley and Garlic Brown Butter that take it to another level.

If it’s still not safe for friends to come over, stay connected by sharing photos on social media.

BBQ Turkey Burgers with Homemade Pickles

(Makes 4 servings)

Pickles:

  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup wood chips (such as hickory)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, finely chopped

Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (85% lean) (24 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced

Directions

To make pickles: Place cucumbers in 1-quart Mason jar or other tall narrow container. In small saucepan over ­medium-high heat, bring vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes (if using), garlic, water, kosher salt, and pepper to boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Pour hot liquid over cucumbers and leave to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make barbecue sauce: Preheat covered charcoal grill for medium-high heat. Sprinkle wood chips over charcoal. In small ovenproof saucepan, whisk ketchup, mustard, sugar, molasses, Worcestershire, vinegar, butter, and chipotle. Place saucepan on grill, cover grill hood and cook sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

To make burgers: Divide turkey into 4 patties that are slightly larger in diameter than buns. Brush patties with oil and season both sides with salt and pepper. Using your thumb, make a ¼-inch-deep depression in center of each patty. Grill patties 4 minutes. Turn patties over, brush with some barbecue sauce, and grill 4 minutes, or until well browned and cooked through. Transfer burgers to plate to rest 5 minutes. Place burgers on bun bottoms. Spread more barbecue sauce on burgers, if desired, top with pickles, onions, and bun tops, and serve. Save any remaining barbecue sauce for another use.

Make-Ahead: Pickles can be made up to 1 week ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Barbecue sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 670
  • Total Fat: 34g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Sodium: 910 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 57 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 30 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 3.5 carbohydrate, 4 lean meat, 0.5 vegetable, 5 fat

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Parsley and Garlic Brown Butter

(Makes 6 servings)

Grilled Corn
Grilled Corn on the Cob with Parsley and Garlic Brown Butter (Ray Kachatorian)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped
  • fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 ears fresh yellow corn with husks attached

To make brown butter: Place small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and cook for 5 minutes or until butter melts and becomes golden brown, swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in garlic. Set aside until butter is almost cold, then add parsley and lemon juice. Place butter mixture in bowl and chill until mixture is cold and firm.

To grill corn: Fold back husks from corn cobs and remove corn silk (keep husks attached to cobs). Soak corn in large bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and pat corn dry. Prepare barbecue for medium heat. Tear a few corn husks into long strips. Gather husks at base of corn cob and tie them with husk strips to secure. Repeat with remaining corn cobs.

Spread garlic butter all over corn kernels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place corn on grill. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until corn is soft and juicy and husks are lightly charred.

Make-Ahead: The garlic brown butter can be made 2 days ahead, covered, and refrigerated.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 158
  • Total Fat: 9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Sodium: 77 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 20 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 1.25 carbohydrate, 1.5 fat

Want more cookout ideas? Check out Curtis Stone’s Grilled Steak Salad at saturdayeveningpost.com/steaksalad.

This article is featured in the July/August 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: BBQ turkey burger with homemade pickles (Ray  Kachatorian)

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