At the Start
The beauty of the grill is its ability to encourage spontaneity. This collection of light bites with festive cocktails makes that even easier, with recipes to suit any occasion. When friends drop by unexpectedly, try mixed vegetable kebabs or chicken satay—these require little preparation and you may already have most of the ingredients on hand. Grill some crusty bread alongside (you’ll find it goes with everything) and serve with creamy burrata; mix up a pitcher of sangria or a frosty lime shandy, and your friends may never leave. When you have more time to plan, you can brine wings in honey and salt, toss shrimp with a Vietnamese-style sauce, and dollop oysters with an herbed shallot butter (and serve with a basil-infused gin cocktail). But even these hors d’oeuvres aren’t fussy at all. They’re just incredibly delicious, and elevate the notion of what an appetizer can be. Honey-Brined Chicken Wings
Serves 6 to 8
Brining—soaking in a solution of salt, water, and sometimes sugar—results in moist, tender meat. The addition of honey rounds out the flavor of this brine and aids in caramelization on the grill. Wings are the ultimate grab-and-go food, made sweet and spicy here with an additional drizzle of chile-flecked honey. Serve them with a refreshing, tall drink, such as our twist on a standard Southern cocktail, Iced Bourbon Mint Tea (page 00).
1/2 cup coarse salt
3/4 cup honey
2 1/2 pounds whole chicken wings
Vegetable oil, for grill
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
Bring 6 cups water, the salt, and ½ cup honey to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Let cool completely.
Place chicken in a large bowl and pour cooled brine over top. Refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. Remove meat from brine, rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat grill to medium. Lightly oil grates. Grill chicken, turning often, until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup honey, the red-pepper flakes, and ancho chile. Serve chicken drizzled with chile honey.Kielbasa Bites with Potato Salad
Grilling smoked Polish pork sausage is an easy starter to prepare, since kielbasa has already been cured—all you have to do is heat the sausage until you see pleasing grill marks. Slicing the kielbasa lengthwise before cooking means that more surface area is in contact with the grill, for better charring. It contrasts nicely with buttery Yukon Gold potatoes coated in a light grainy-mustard vinaigrette, which you can make up to two days in advance. Serve with your favorite sauerkraut.
1 pound baby Yukon Gold or new potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for grill
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
2 pounds kielbasa, halved lengthwise
Sauerkraut, for serving
Cover potatoes by 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan; add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and return to hot saucepan to dry, 5 minutes. Immediately toss with oil, vinegar, mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and season with pepper. Refrigerate until cool, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. Stir in chives.
Heat grill to high. Lightly oil grates. Grill kielbasa until heated through and charred, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and cut crosswise on the bias into 2‑inch pieces. Serve with potato salad and sauerkraut.Italian Sausages and Tomatoes on Focaccia
Serves 4 to 6
This play on a deconstructed sausage pizza makes for a very popular appetizer. Slices of focaccia are first spread with a fresh relish of grilled tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper, then topped with halved links. You can substitute ciabatta or rustic Italian bread for the focaccia.
4 tomatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds), halved crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill and drizzling
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
6 sweet or spicy Italian sausages
6 slices focaccia, each approximately 6 by 4 inches
Heat grill to medium-high. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil. Lightly oil grates. Grill tomatoes, cut-side down, until charred in spots and beginning to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn tomatoes and grill until soft and juicy but still holding their shape, 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board, coarsely chop, then transfer to a medium bowl. Add oregano and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in 2 tablespoons oil.
Grill sausages, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Cut each sausage in half lengthwise. Using a slotted spoon, divide tomato relish among focaccia. Top each with 2 sausage halves and fold to eat.
Copyright © 2019 by Editors of Martha Stewart Living. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.