Cook's Corner: Storm coming? Break out the grill

Published 6:12 am Wednesday, September 3, 2008

By Staff
Hurricane season is apparently in full swing and can openers, barbecue grills and gas cookers are best friends of cooks all across the Gulf Coast region.
With the peak of hurricane season just a few days away and the threat of hurricanes becoming more and more frequent, I've decided to put together a few recipes that might help out in case of power outages.
Of course, we all know about using thawing vegetables and meats to throw together a big pot of soup or stew on the gas cooker on the carport. At least I know about that.
As a matter of fact, right after Ivan came through the area, we had a big shrimp boil at my house. We had about 20 pounds of shrimp in the freezer that had begun to thaw. Rather than lose them, we threw shrimp, potatoes, corn on the cob and some sausage in a big pot and cooked up a throw-down on the carport just two days after the storm. After eating as much as we could hold, we peeled the rest of the shrimp and snacked on them out of iceboxes for the next couple of days. When it came down to eating Spam sandwiches over the next week and a half, we were longing for some of those shrimp by day 12 without power.
Even if you haven't been hit with the sorrows of being without power from a storm so far this season, the chances are pretty good that you could be hit before the season ends.
I've done my best at tracking down some recipes that will use the things you may have lurking in your freezer that may need some quick thinking to keep from losing completely.
If you do have a grill but not a gas cooker, don't fret. There are plenty of ways you can cook items from your freezer on the grill. I've included some unusual grilling ideas and recipes that just may be of help when you have to use up thawing food.
Sausage and Green Beans Pouches
1 lb. green beans
1/2 pound red potatoes, quartered
1 large onion, sliced
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/3 cup water
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. On a large sheet of foil, place the green beans, red potatoes, onion, and sausage. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with oil, and top with butter. Tightly seal foil around the ingredients, leaving only a small opening. Pour water into the opening, and seal. Place foil packet on the prepared grill. Cook 20 to 30 minutes, turning once, until sausage is browned and vegetables are tender.
The best tip for preparing this meal is to make sure that the green beans are thawed and drained before cooking. If they aren't completely thawed, reduce the water to 1/2 cup and lengthen the cooking time by about 10 minutes.
This method would probably work well with any vegetable combination you'd like.
Vegetable packets
4 medium unpeeled potatoes, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt to taste (optional)
5 tablespoons butter, divided
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Prepare two foil packets by layering together 4 squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil for each packet. If using regular duty foil, use twice the number of layers. Spray the top sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl or resealable bag, toss together the potato slices, onion, and frozen vegetables; season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic salt if using. Evenly divide the potatoes between the two foil packets, and top with the divided butter. Fold each packet, starting lengthwise; rolling edges together, repeat for each end, making sure to seal edges tightly. Cook the foil packets over the preheated grill until the potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes per side.
Another way to cook frozen vegetables on a grill is to use cast iron cookware. If you have enough charcoal or gas to do the job, you can put a pot of peas or butter beans on to cook on one end of the grill while grilling meats or other vegetables. It will certainly take a little longer to prepare peas on the grill this way, but if they are completely thawed before putting them on to cook, you could at least get some use out of them and not have to just throw the away.
Now, for those of you who have a gas cooker and not a grill, it's pretty simple. You can simply put a pot or skillet on the cooker and prepare foods in the usual manner. But, if you are accustomed to using electricity to cook, be sure to watch the dish carefully. Gas tends to act a little different from electricity.
I'm sorry if you don't have any appliances that you can use to cook with if your power goes off. But, as many of us have done in times past, that's where potted meat, Vienna sausages and peanut butter come in.
I hope that the rest of the hurricane season just produces some light rains and cool breezes. That's my desire.
Until next week, happy cooking.