What’s Memorial Day weekend without a barbecue? To get your summer off right, we’re introducing our latest food column—Grillin’ & Chillin’ with Grill Daddy and The Big Chill. Grill Daddy is a pro with tongs who has been cooking up summertime feasts for family and friends for more than 20 years. The Big Chill is our libations expert. An international wine importer and expert by day, by night he helps friends, such as you, get their chill on—big time.

To give you great ideas for summer eating Grill Daddy will be perusing the hottest cookbooks for the tastiest recipes. And since no meal is complete without a beverage to complement the flavors, we’ve turned to The Big Chill for his expertise in adult refreshments. So make sure you have plenty of propane or hard wood charcoal on hand. This team will provide the know-how that is sure to wow your guests.

Grillin’ & Chillin’ for Memorial Day

by Grill Daddy and The Big Chill

For us folks up north, the approach of summertime often means three things: the too-long-absent feel of the warm sun upon our faces, the dreaded day when the lawnmower is first dragged out of the garage, and that blessed evening when we can fire up the grill once more and finally cook food the way it was meant to be prepared—over an open flame.

There are a number of wines that will enhance the flavor of your sweet-heat chicken thighs without overpowering them, all of which should cost less than $20 per bottle.

For our southern friends, cooking on the barbecue can be more of a year-round treat. So, as Memorial Day approaches and we up north pull the cover off the grill once again, what better way to kick off a season of outdoor cooking than to indulge ourselves in the pages of All Fired Up: Smokin’ Hot BBQ Secrets from the South’s Best Pitmasters from the editors of Southern Living with Troy Black, award-winning barbecue chef?

Our first recommendation is a light red 2012 Côte du Rhône, a great vintage that is easy to find. Pinot Noir will also stand up nicely to chicken thighs. If you prefer white wine, a currant vintage (think 2010-11) Bourgogne Blanc or a Viognier with its rich, earthy flavor from either California or France is also a great choice.


Click to learn more.

In this sumptuous tome, the editors of Southern Living have given us an ode to grilling that would warm even the coldest of northern winter nights. The book is not only a festival of delicious and widely varied recipes for the grill, it’s also a feast for the eyes as well. Large, full-page pictures of tantalizing barbecue productions grace nearly every page, as do photos of the men, women, and locales that produce these morsels. This alluring feature gives the reader the sense that they can recreate the not just the flavor of the meals, but also of the rich environment in which they were born.

We put All Fired Up through its paces by hosting a warm gathering of family members, as well as friends both old and new, to our first grill party of the season. We started with Chipotle-Mango Salsa and chips, a delightful and colorful mix of fruity and savory flavors that quickly disappeared from its bowl. We followed that up with a feast of Marinated Beef Tenderloin, Sweet-Heat Boneless Chicken Thighs, and chicken breasts slathered generously with Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce.

A Sirah from Washington or California might also be a good selection for this dish, as would an Alsace Pinot Gris, a wine that is not sweet, but still has plenty of richness. For something different, try Champagne or a sparkly wine, such as Spanish Cava or a sparkling wine from California.

The hit of the evening was probably the chicken thighs. Made with orange marmalade and horseradish, the marinade for this dish perfectly accented and highlighted the boneless and skinless thighs, which, while containing more fat than the breasts, always pack a bit more flavor. The sharp, mustard-based tang of the Carolina BBQ sauce over the chicken breasts was a great counterpoint to the sweet, slightly spicy flavor of the thighs.

The guest of honor amongst the dishes, the marinated beef tenderloin, was delicious, but possibly a slight letdown from the chicken. While the marinade (based on zesty Italian salad dressing, soy sauce, wine, and garlic) allowed for a great “bark” to form on the beef, its taste was a bit too subtle compared to the power that the chicken dishes packed.

While many people buy their wine from a liquor store, a sound strategy to find the right wine for any dish is to develop a relationship with your local wine dealer. With his or her help, you can eliminate mistakes while maximizing proper choices for any dish.

Still, the recipes overall were a hit. With easy-to-follow directions and great visual guides, the book serves as an excellent manual for both novice and experienced grillmasters, who could find themselves cooking until Labor Day with the recipes from the book’s pages. In all, a wonderful way to kick off the summer!

Drink selections provided from our wine expert, The Big Chill



Orange marmalade and horseradish combine to give these grilled thighs a sweet-heat flavor profile.

Makes: 10 servings. Hands-on time: 5 minutes. Total time: 21 minutes.


3 lbs skinned and boneless chicken thighs

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ cup orange marmalade

¼ cup chopped green onions

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. refrigerated horseradish

1. Preheat grill to 300 to 350 degrees (medium) heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Stir together marmalade, green onions, soy sauce, and horseradish in a small bowl.

2. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, eight minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 180 degrees, basting frequently with marmalade mixture.

TIP: Boneless skinless chicken thighs offer the convenience of a quick cook time. You can buy them already skinned and boned. Or, if you prefer, substitute bone-in chicken thighs and remove the skin to prevent greasiness. You’ll need to increase the cook time to 12-13 minutes per side.

Local wine dealer. With his or her help, you can eliminate mistakes while maximizing proper choices for any dish.