I was talking to a friend last week and she asked me for suggestions of what she should make for dinner that night. The weather was lovely that day, so I told her to get outside and fire up her grill. “Ugh,” she said, “that’s too much work. I think I’ll just order a pizza.”

I understood her response because I used to feel the same way about grilling. Up until five years ago, our grill was purely Tony’s domain, and I was just fine with that. But then, Tony’s work schedule changed, and he could no longer participate in the photo shoots for this column. I quickly realized that if I ever wanted to feature any grilled food recipes again, I was going to have to get cozy with our grill.

Once I did, I could not believe how easy it was to make a piece of meat taste amazing with so little effort, and little to no mystique. People have been grilling food since the beginning of time, and it is now one of my favorite ways to cook.

Most grilled meat dishes follow a similar, basic formula: Once you have chosen the meat, whisk together a few fresh herbs, some citrus or vinegar, garlic, seasoning and voila — you have a marinade. Before you start cooking, make sure your grill is clean, hot and lubricated with vegetable oil (to prevent the food from sticking to the grate).

Next, all you need to do is place the meat on the hot grill, wait for grill marks to appear on the bottom, flip and repeat until the meat achieves your desired temperature. It really can be that simple. To make it even simpler, be sure to have a meat thermometer on hand to ensure an accurate reading. And, if you plan to grill some vegetables, you can use a grill basket or (my favorite trick) a wire cooling rack to prevent the veggies from falling through the grates.

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Sicilian steak marinade is made with oregano, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and honey. Forum file photo
Sicilian steak marinade is made with oregano, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and honey. Forum file photo

Today I am digging into the archives to share three of my favorite recipes for the grill: Sarah’s Sicilian Marinated Top Sirloin Steak, Sarah’s Sicilian Marinated Top Sirloin Steak and Tony’s Mojito Chicken. These are my go-to recipes for easy summer dinners, and I make them several times each season.

I am developing several new grilling recipes for this summer and cannot wait to share them with you when they are ready. In the meantime, grab your apron and tongs and get your grill on.

Sarah’s Sicilian Marinated Top Sirloin Steak

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Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 sirloin steaks, 2 pounds each

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Quick and Easy Soy Based Pork Chops should be basted several times while grilling. Forum file photo
Quick and Easy Soy Based Pork Chops should be basted several times while grilling. Forum file photo

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, honey, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until combined. Taste and add more seasoning and flavors as desired; flavors will intensify as marinade settles. Transfer half to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place steaks in a large plastic zipper bag and pour remaining marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and turn it several times until steaks are fully coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat grill to high. Remove steaks from plastic bag and transfer to baking sheet or dish. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Grill steaks over direct heat until grill marks are achieved on the bottom, about 5 to 6 minutes, then turn steaks over and continue cooking until a thermometer inserted in the middle of each steak reaches your desired temperature.

Transfer meat to a cutting board, cover lightly with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Carve steaks into slices and immediately pour half the reserved marinade over carved meat, saving the rest to serve on the side.

Tony’s Mojito Chicken

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

6 boneless, skinless split chicken breasts (if using whole breasts, cut in half, lengthwise)

2 to 3 limes, freshly squeezed (zest 1 before squeezing)

Zest from 1 lime

1/2 cup light rum (can also use coconut, dark, or spiced rum)

15 to 20 fresh mint leaves, cut chiffonade style

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl or baking dish first, then toss chicken in the mixture, making sure each piece is evenly coated. Cover dish and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Due to the acid in this recipe, we do not recommend marinating for longer than 4 hours.

When ready, grill chicken on a hot, clean and lubricated grill. Grill on 1 side over direct heat for about 5 minutes until grill marks set in. Turn and grill on other side and grill over indirect heat for at least 10 minutes, until fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

When chicken is done, transfer to plates or serving platter and enjoy. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days.

Quick and Easy Soy Basted Pork Chops

Serve pork chops with fresh herbs and sliced jalapenos. Forum file photo
Serve pork chops with fresh herbs and sliced jalapenos. Forum file photo

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup unseasoned rice (wine) vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark

4 half-inch thick bone-in pork blade or rib chops

Vegetable oil (for grill)

Kosher salt

For serving:

Variety of 3 or more fresh herbs, roughly chopped — mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram

1 medium jalapeno, thinly sliced

Directions:

To temper their heat, marinate jalapeno slices in a small bowl with juice of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons olive oil, then refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar until combined and sugar is dissolved.

Use a fork to prick pork chops all over, and place in a large plastic zipper bag. Pour in half the marinade, seal bag and turn to evenly coat pork chops. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade until ready to grill. Let pork chops marinate for at least 10 minutes, or overnight for best results.

Make sure your grill is clean, hot and lubricated with vegetable or olive oil before using. Remove pork chops from marinade; discard marinade.

Season chops lightly with salt and grill on 1 side until grill marks are achieved, about 2 to 3 minutes, using a brush or spoon to baste tops with the remaining marinade at least twice before turning. Flip chops over and grill on other side, basting often, until an internal temperature between 145 and 160 degrees is achieved.

Remove chops from grill and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle fresh herbs generously over meat and serve with sliced jalapenos on the side.

Serve pork chops with fresh herbs and sliced jalapenos. Forum file photo
Serve pork chops with fresh herbs and sliced jalapenos. Forum file photo

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.