5 Finger-Lickin’ BBQ Recipes To Cook Up This Summer

by Claire Thomas SOURCE Refinery 29

Summer's almost here, and in Southern California, as in many other parts of the country, you know that means it's time to hose off your patio furniture and get your grill fired up.

If you happen to be a novice chef and the idea of making up anything other than reservations gives you an anxiety attack—fear not, we have just the thing with these five super easy-yet-impressive recipes for your next cookout, from Claire Thomas of The Kitchy Kitchen. Whether you've got a picnic, BBQs, or beachy bonfire in the works, these finger lickin' recipes are designed to impress and have your guests coming back for seconds. 


Ambrosia Agua Fresca:
The combination of ambrosia melon (basically a cantaloupe with the flavor turned up), yellow watermelon, mint, lime, and agave nectar is refreshing and not-too-sweet. Nothing saddens and repulses me more than the promise of a fruit, but a mouthful of sugar water. Yuck. This agua fresca completely hinges on the quality of fruit, so feel free to shake it up and pick whatever's best that day: Red watermelon, honeydew, even berries, if you'd rather. Just adjust the agave to taste and let it sit for a few hours to let the flavors mingle. Enjoy!

3 cups yellow watermelon
5 cups ambrosia melon (or anything cantaloupe-y)
3 cups water (or to taste)
6 tablespoons agave nectar
3 limes, juiced
4 sprigs mint

Combine the fruit in a blender until it’s pureed. Strain, add the agave and lime, and blend again. Strain into a pitcher and add the water, one cup at a time, tasting with each addition to make sure it doesn't get diluted. Toss in the mint and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors mingle.


Grilled Corn with Ancho Chili Lime Butter
Grilled sweet corn is one of the staples of summer, and the slightly sweet-and-spicy butter only brings out its delicious and delicate flavor. Enjoy!

10 ears of white corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
12 oz unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 1/2 teaspoons lime zest
2 teaspoons honey

Mix the butter, zest, ancho chili powder, and honey together. Salt to taste, and put butter into butter dishes. I decorated mine with an extra pinch of ancho chili powder and lime zest. Set aside or refrigerate. Set your grill to high and drizzle olive oil evenly over the corn, rolling the ears to cover all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until each side has a little color, for about two to three minutes a side. Serve hot and butter with the back of a fork (it works better than a knife) and enjoy!


Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dogs with Cucumber-Fennel Relish:
Could there be anything more satisfying than a satiating gourmet hotdog? And boy, does Sue Moore, the meat forager for Alice Water's Chez Panisse, know how to make a good hotdog! Sue's brainchild is Let's Be Frank, delicious, organic hotdogs sold from an adorable cart next to Helms Bakery in Culver City. You can get a dog right there or buy a four pack. The all-beef franks are made from 100% grass-fed beef and natural spices. Like the lady says: "No fillers. No hormones or antibiotics. Dairy-free, gluten-free, no added nitrates or nitrites. No junk." So, to compensate for all that "health," I wrapped mine in bacon.

Ultimate Hotdogs:
8 hotdogs
8 slices of bacon
1 Maui onion (or yellow) roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon pepper

For a delicious dog:
Wrap a thin slice of bacon around the hotdog and cook on a griddle as usual. In a separate pan, melt the butter and saute the onion until it loses its harsh, acidic flavor and is just caramelized. Don't add salt, as this will cause the onions to completely caramelize, turning soft and sweet. Now, this is wonderful for a soup, or maybe a roast beef sandwich, but for hotdogs I prefer a stronger texture. And be sure to use white buns. I once tried wheat, and while watching it crumble into a soggy mess in my hand, my dad made a good point: "You already wrapped the thing in bacon, why scrimp on the bun?" Indeed.


Fresh Cucumber-Fennel Relish:
1 small fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb finely chopped
1 lb seedless cucumbers halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch diced pieces (you don't have to skin them if you choose a cucumber with a delicate skin, such as lemon cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers)
4 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Mix it all together and let it sit for 15 minutes. You can make it a day ahead, but it loses some of the bright color.


S'Meaches (S'mores + Peaches)
Fire is such a wonderful, transformative thing. At first glance, singeing something as perfect as a ripe summer peach seems sacrilege, but then you taste it, and then add a marshmallow because, really, why not? The burnt sugar with a hint of spice, the acid of the yellow peach against the saccharine marshmallow—it all works somehow, and is my new campfire favorite. Smeaches. Smores + peaches. It's a pretty obvious pun, so you probably didn't need that explained, but whatever, smeaches it is. Enjoy!

1 peach, sliced into six to eight slices and halved horizontally
6-8 marshmallows
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix the cayenne and sugar, and toss the peaches in. Put a bottom half of a peach slice on a stick, add the marshmallow, then the other half of peach. Toast over a medium-low flame until caramelized and browned. Enjoy!