Story & Photos by Brianne Dela Cruz, Gather & Grow
It's the season for backyard cookouts with friends and family. There’s no better way to enjoy good company and good food than crafting elevated yet classic meals over open flame at home. While I normally cook over the fire in the backcountry, I was thrilled to bring the tall Cowboy Fire Pit Grill to my patio to cook in the comfort of my own backyard. The Cowboy grill and accessories provide the perfect rustic kitchen for a summer dinner patio party.
For this gathering, I adapted classic American grilling recipes for the fire, including Bourbon Barbecue Grilled Chicken and juicy Shrimp Kebabs lathered in a bright chimichurri sauce that utilizes fresh cut herbs from the potted herb garden. A barbecue dinner would not be complete without homemade Aged White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese on the side. To complement the salty, smokey and rich flavors of this classic summertime menu, I added a tangy Pickled Cucumber Salad loaded with crunch and a touch of creaminess. These recipes are simple to prepare and cook, which takes the stress out of open-fire grilling. This menu is an easy but delicious option to serve up on any summer weekend.
BOURBON BARBECUE GRILLED CHICKEN
- 6 Chicken breasts or thighs
Bourbon barbecue sauce and marinade
- 1/2 cup Bourbon whiskey
- 1 cup ketchup
- 4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
Sauce can be made in advance and used to marinate chicken.
- Over the fire, whisk together bourbon, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt in an enamel saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.
- Pat and dry chicken, then salt lightly. Add to a large bowl and coat with 1/4 cup of the prepared bourbon barbecue sauce. Set the rest of the sauce aside.
- Marinate chicken for at least 10 minutes. If marinating overnight in a fridge, remove from the fridge at least 15-20 minutes before preparing to cook.
- Place marinated chicken directly onto a heated grate. Cook for 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through, flipping halfway through and applying more bbq sauce.
- Remove from the fire and serve with extra spoonfuls of sauce.
HOW TO MAKE
SHRIMP KEBABS WITH HERBY CHIMICHURRI
Servings: 4 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Marinate Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 15 minutes
- 24 large shrimps, thawed with skin and tails removed
Makes about 12-14 ounce of chimichurri
- 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, lightly packed
- 2 green onions, chopped
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- Combine all chimichurri ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until reaching desired consistency.
- Load six shrimps on a skewer. Repeat until all four skewers are loaded with shrimp.
- Brush sauce over skewered shrimps right before grilling.
- When shrimp kebabs are fully cooked
HOW TO MAKE
AGED WHITE CHEDDAR MAC N’ CHEESE
Servings: 4-6 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes
- 3 cups 2% milk
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 450 grams macaroni pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chives for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups aged white cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of paprika
- In a 12" Dutch Oven, combine the 2% milk, water and salt. Bring to a low boil over charcoal briquettes. Add a few coals to the lid to even out the heat distribution. To prevent the milk from burning and boiling over, keep the lid vented and suspend the Dutch oven 3-5 inches above the coals.
- When the milk is boiling, pour in the pasta, stirring slowly with a spoon to incorporate noodles.
- Cover with lid for 1-2 minutes to get the milk back to boiling point, then vent the lid for the remainder of the cooking time. Keep an eye on the milk to ensure it doesn’t froth and boil over.
- Cook the pasta in the milk until al dente, about 10-15 minutes; it should be slightly underdone when you bite into it. Do not drain.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low by raising the height of the Dutch oven to about 8-10 inches from the heat and removing the coals from the top of the lid.
- Stirring constantly, add the butter, dijon and heavy cream to the pot. Slowly sprinkle in the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir until melted. The sauce will thicken as the cheese melts and the pasta finishes cooking.
- Remove the pot from the fire. Season with salt and pepper. Taste the mac & cheese and shake in a little extra salt, if desired.
- Cool slightly and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta.
- Garnish with chives and serve at once.
HOW TO MAKE
PICKLED CUCUMBER SALAD
Servings: 4 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Marinate Time: 20-2 hours | Total Time: 25 minutes-2 hours
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 8 mini cucumbers, or 1 armenian cucumber, sliced
- 2-3 fennel fronds, chopped
- ¼ cup feta crumbles
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 pinches pepper
- Arrange sliced cucumbers and onions on a plate or shallow serving dish.
- Sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and fennel.
- Pour red wine vinegar over the top to coat and almost cover the vegetables.
- Marinate for at least 20 minutes, then sprinkle feta over the top right before serving.
Hanging S-hooks and Chains offer versatility in cooking and the ability to easily control temperature. Use the hooks to hang food over the grill to slowly roast, or suspend a dutch oven above the fire to lower the cooking temperature. The suspension feature proved valuable for cooking the Aged White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese without it burning the milk and cheese.
Adjustable grates enable easy maneuvering from side to side or up and down along the bar. This feature also allows for more precise temperature control when grilling food directly on the grate. Raise the grate to lower the cook temperature or lower it closer to the flame to create a beautiful char on food. The grate can be twisted side to side to tend the coals or move the food away from the heat. If you’re grilling a lot of food, then the ability to position multiple grates is convenient. Adjusting the grate height and position over the fire made cooking the Barbecue Chicken and Shrimp Kebabs smooth.
Utensil racks on each side of the grill make working quickly a breeze. Having everything on hand right when you need it is vital when juggling multiple dishes over a rapidly changing fire.
Adjustable legs make this grill multi-functional. It can begin the evening as a camp kitchen, then end the night as a fire pit for roasting s'mores or watching flames dance.
The side table is an essential accessory for prepping food, staging ingredients, and keeping food warm. After using this feature, I know I’ll never want to cook without it. It was the perfect space to hold ingredients right where I needed them. With the basin filled with a bed of radiating hot coals, I can also imagine using this piece like a flat top skillet to toast buttered bread or fry eggs.
The size of the basin proves to be invaluable when cooking multiple foods at once. It is spacious enough to cultivate one large fire or multiple small piles of hot coals to cook varying types of food. It can easily fit a Dutch oven, large enamel pots and pans, and full size cast irons skillets positioned in the pit or on the grates. It’s large enough to grill food while tending coals but not so large that it takes up too much space on a patio. Tending multiple piles of coals in a wide basin allows for the ability to cook different foods at unique temperatures, which means dinner turns out perfectly cooked every time.