Stephen Fries: Lighting up the grill made easy with these recipes

Chicken, pulled pork, ribs, brisket, grilled corn on the cob and the quintessential burger and hot dog — everyone has a barbecue favorite. Many of us will be lighting up the grill this weekend, celebrating Memorial Day and welcoming the unofficial start of summer. May also happens to be National BBQ month. The season we have been waiting for, with its longer days, warmer evenings, when inviting friends and family over for alfresco dining has finally arrived. A gourmet meal prepared under a blue sky in the comfort of your home still offers affordable luxury.

With so many different cooking styles, creating endless amounts of grilled possibilities, is made easy when you have great recipes for dry rubs and “special” sauces to make ordinary meats and vegetables extraordinary. There are BBQ cookbooks for those who are “advanced,” requiring special equipment with recipes that require many steps and time. Most of us, however, are looking for easier, simpler recipes that turn out delicious food.

Steve Tillett, author of “Grill It Up” (2018, Gibbs Smith, $16.99) has written a book for the casual BBQer. Tillett’s background caught my interest; he considers himself the king of the backyard barbecue (at least in his own backyard), and has done it all of his life. I relate to him, since he too, grew up the son of a butcher, where the grill ran often and the smell of barbecue was frequent in the air. My dad, now 85, still looks forward to lighting up the grill to BBQ; one of his favorite summertime activities.

Tillett, a podiatric surgeon by trade, spent several of his post-graduate and medical residency expanding his BBQ knowledge and refining his style. I admire cookbook authors whose professional career is unexpected.

He opens the book with helpful hints, writing “grilling “low and slow” is the often-heard adage and barbecue mantra. If you say “cook it low and slow” to a grill enthusiast, their response usually accompanied by a grin, is, “Yep, low and slow.”

Did you ever think why? This method avoids the intense heat that will dry the meat out. Charred on the outside with the loss of the flavorful juices.

Now, “Grill It Up” for some good eats with flavor-bursting recipes such as BBQ shrimp scampi, Steve’s famous dry rub chicken on a can, grilled cantaloupe, grilled pizza bites, BBQ sauces and rubs. To get yourself and your grill started, check out these recipes for Mix-and-Match Veggie Kebabs and Boy’s-night-Out Orange Ribs. For the recipe for raspberry pork loin, please visit

Hint….this cookbook makes a great gift for Father’s Day. You will get enjoy the delicious food dad prepares from it.

Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Store unused rub in an air-tight container. Makes about ½ cup.

Preheat grill to medium. Cut all of the vegetables except tomatoes and mushrooms into ½ -inch-thick slices or wedges. Place vegetables in a large sealable bag, add oil and Steve’s dry rub or other seasonings of choice, and gently toss to evenly coat.

Thread vegetable pieces onto the skewers**, making sure to place the more solid vegetables on both ends so that the softer vegetables don’t fall off. Lay the skewers on the grill at a 90 degree angle across the grates and turn every 3-4 minutes until you reach the desired tenderness, about 10-15 minutes.

*Tips: Try boiling carrots for a few minutes until barely softened so they will slide a little more easily onto the skewer.

**If you use wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 minutes prior to using so they don’t burn.

Add flavor by brushing the veggies with an infused oil (recipe below).

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Place garlic, oil, and oregano in a small saucepan. Gently warm the oil over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When cooled, place in an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

*Variation: Ask your grocer’s meat department to rip (or cut) ribs lengthwise to create bite-size” riblets.”

Tip: To enhance and give ribs a more robust flavor, soak them in Pork and Poultry Brine (recipe below) for 1-2 hours before grilling.

Peel film off back of ribs by hand, or carefully using a knife. Rub the ribs thoroughly with dry rub and let rest for about 1 hour before grilling.

In a small bowl, combine salsa, chili sauce, and marmalade together. Preheat grill to medium low.

Place ribs on grill grate out of direct heat, cover with lid, and cook slowly for 30-40 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees, turning occasionally. Baste with sauce during the last 5 minutes of grilling.

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub over ribs about an hour prior to grilling. Store unused rub in an air-tight container. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. If brining a lot of meat, make enough to cover completely. Let meat soak in brine for approximately 1 hour per pound. Makes 2 To 4 servings.

What chef would you like me to interview? Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. (Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to

New Haven Food Truck Festival, June 2, noon to 7 p.m., Long Wharf Park in New Haven. The event will also include a bicycle wheelie competition, a dragon boat regatta and live music. Free admission, food, beverage and some activities are an additional cost. Parking at the Long Wharf Maritime Center Garage. 555 Long Wharf Drive, $5 per car,

Ninety9Bottles Craft Beer Festival, June 2, 2 to 5 p.m. Oyster Shell Park, North Water Street, Norwalk. $40 advance, $50 at the door, $20 designated driver. A portion of proceeds will benefit The Adoption Hope Foundation. Price includes a tasting glass, unlimited samples, live entertainment. 75+ craft beers; some old favorites and some new beers to the Connecticut market. Food truck will be selling delicious local fare. Tickets, and details at

Mohegan Sun annual Sun BBQFest, June 2 and 3, Saturday 11 a.m.--10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. 1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard Uncasville, 888-226-7711 , $5 a day per person (does not include food & beverage) Kids 6 & under: free. $1 food & beverage tickets available at the event. Barbecue battles, food vendors, beverages, live music and cooking demonstrations. Saturday's events feature a wing contest and a rib challenge, with an evening fireworks display. Complete schedule at

Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner “Taking Dad Out” June 15, doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7 p.m. Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489, $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening as you enjoy a 3-course meal. The cast mingles from table to table, dropping clues for a mystery that only you can solve.