Summer entertaining should be no sweat. And for Labor Day, the season's last holiday, many backyard hosts are looking for a menu that will impress the guests without taxing the cook.
George Hirsch can help you make that happen. The Long Island, N.Y., chef, best known for his public television show, "Living It Up," is all about fuss-free recipes and easy entertaining. "If I can do it, you can do it" is what Hirsch likes to say.
Hirsch's show aired from 1994 to 2011, and he brought to it an impressive resume: After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1980, he launched a career ranging from opening Kings Park, N.Y.'s fusion restaurant American Bistro in 1989 to running the culinary arts program at New York Institute of Technology in Central Islip from 1983 to 1992.
In every position, his goal has been to strip away superfluous flourishes and focus on the basics. Recently, Hirsch presided over a late-summer barbecue for six, one that can easily be re-created for what might be your last grilling party of the season.
Among his lessons:
• Keep the grill covered: Food will cook faster and more evenly, Hirsch says, "and it will be infused with a great smoky flavor."
• Leave the fish (or meat, if that's what you're grilling) alone: Whether tuna or beef, throw steaks on a hot, clean grill and "don't be a hasty flipper." Wait four to five minutes before even thinking about flipping. And let them rest five minutes before cutting or serving.
• Throw something new on the fire: Hirsch grills the potatoes for his potato salad, the corn for the corn slaw. "It adds an extra dimension of smokiness," he says.
The Noyack, N.Y., home Hirsch shares with TV producer Trish Bennett is tailor-made for entertaining. The kitchen is roomy and filled with light. Outside there are five grills scattered about. He stuck to one gas grill for this party, which makes the most of Long Island's late-summer bounty and, most important, gets as much done in advance as possible.
Thus, the side dishes - corn slaw and potato salad - required only last-minute finishing. Grilling the tuna was all that had to be done at the last minute.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Savory Corn Slaw
For the slaw:
•1 small head (2 to 3 pounds) green cabbage
•1 red bell pepper
•1 yellow bell pepper
•1 large carrot
•6 ears grilled or roasted corn 3 scallions, chopped
•1 small sweet onion, chopped
For the dressing:
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
•1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme (or both)
•2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
•2 tablespoons orange juice
•2 tablespoons honey
•1 teaspoon soy sauce
•1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
•2 cloves garlic, chopped
•4 to 6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Thinly shred cabbage and peppers and grate carrot (by hand or in a food processor). With a sharp knife, cut kernels off corn cobs. Combine vegetables in a large bowl with chopped scallions and onion. Combine oil, paprika, herbs, vinegar, orange juice, honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Toss with vegetables and refrigerate for at least two hours. Toss with cilantro just before serving.