In Memory of a Grill Meister

We’re right in the middle of tailgating season. Just the other night, I came across a bunch of tailgaters outside the Eagles Arena in Grand Forks. I had been there watching my grandson’s hockey practice. The smell of the burgers and brats cooking on the grills really put me in the mood for grilling.

Coincidentally, I had made plans earlier in the day to cook some homemade, old-fashioned hot dogs on the grill along with some vegetables for supper. This may sound a little sappy, but I decided to prepare some food on the grill in memory of my next-door neighbor, Ray Stinar, who died early Monday morning from a heart attack.

Besides being the perfect neighbor (he always had a friendly word, the neatest yard in the summer, the cleanest sidewalk in the winter as well as having treats for my sometimes naughty dogs), Ray was a grill meister.

Next to his love of sports, especially baseball, cooking on the grill was one of Ray’s favorite things to do. I think he used to grill at least once or twice a week. Many times, we could smell the fragrant aroma of a steak or burger he was grilling as it wafted through our kitchen window.

Ray didn’t like to just cook on a gas grill, either. Just this past summer, I remember talking with him and his good friend, Mike Lundby, as he was preparing his Weber charcoal grill for a 10- to 15-pound turkey. He had it down to a science.

I’m going to miss Ray. But I’ll never forget him, especially when it’s time to fire up the grill.

Sliders with Chipotle Ketchup
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce
1 pound ground beef or bison
¼ cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoons Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce
½ teaspoon salt 8 small rolls, about 2-inches round
2 slices Colby Jack cheese
Green leaf lettuce
Prepare chipotle ketchup: In small bowl, combine ketchup and Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce; set aside.
Preheat grill to high. Meanwhile, combine ground meat, scallions, Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce and salt in bowl; mix well. Shape mixture into 8 2-inch round burgers.
Grill burgers about 5 minutes, or until of desired doneness, turning once. Cut each cheese slice into 4 pieces. Top burgers with cheese; cook 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.
To serve, cut each roll horizontally in half. Place leaf lettuce and cooked burger on roll. Serve with chipotle ketchup.
Yield: Serves 4.

Buffalo Sliders
1 pound ground buffalo (bison) meat
1 egg white
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
2 teaspoons ketchup
1¼ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
8 whole-wheat slider buns, split and toasted
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
Spray grill grates with nonstick spray. Preheat grill to medium high or allow coals to burn down to white ash.
Combine buffalo, egg white, garlic, jalapeno, ketchup, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and cayenne. Mix lightly. Shape into 8 thin patties, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Season very lightly with salt.
Grill patties 2 to 3 minutes each side or until meat thermometer registers 155 degrees. Remove from heat, cover and allow to stand about 5 minutes while internal temperature rises to 160 degrees. (Do not overcook.)
Meanwhile, combine blue cheese and buttermilk in a small mixing bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the blue cheese into the buttermilk. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Stir in celery and remaining 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
Place a tomato slice on the bottom of each bun. Top with a buffalo patty, then dollop 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons blue cheese sauce over the meat, then top with bun.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 215 calories, 26 percent of calories from fat, 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 243 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.