If my kids had asked me earlier in the day yesterday if I could order a dozen or so freshly cooked Maryland Crabs, fire up the bar-b-que and grill a fine assortment of vegetables, invite a half-dozen kids over afterwards to roast marshmallows and shoot off a hoard of fireworks, I would have told them they were delusional if they thought I would say yes to that request tonight, or, any other night for that matter!
The only part of that plan I knew for sure was that our friend Tom had promised to treat us all to freshly cooked Maryland Crab from some great seafood place he knew. I was not enthused about grilling but, when another friend said that the crabs would be great with outdoor-tasting food I was compelled to clean out the ashes and get a fire started. When the coals lit up without much balling of starter paper, and blowing, and getting smoke in my eyes I was encouraged. So, I opened a bottle of wine and contented myself with prepping vegetables and making marinades.
When Tom arrived with the crab it was if a spicy ocean had wafted in the back door. I perked up and began to chop with more pep. After a bit I noticed that the kids had joined their 2 cousins from next door who had three friends visiting. Also the boy at the house beside theirs had strolled over to join in on a game of tag they were playing (some complicated thing involving a possum??).
I had to run to the store for a couple of lemons and without thinking, I picked up a packet of fireworks that I thought might be fun later (O God, what was I doing!!). Before I knew it, the party I had outlawed in my head was in full swing! I managed to get everything grilled and we all piled into a veritable feast. The table was full with shells and napkins and wine and chatter and we had the best dinner ever.
Of course after dinner we had to roast marshmallows, which meant another run to the shop. The marshmallows were the best part, not of course counting the fireworks that followed…..
First Job is to get the grill going (if it is charcoal like mine). If you are using gas just turn it on before you need it (whatever you usually do).
Put newspaper on the table (for an authentic feel and to eliminate the need for plates), and anything else you might need, like, salts, pepper, various condiments, lemons, napkins, crab utensils etc.
Crabs: You will need about 2 dozen freshly cooked crabs.
For Grilled Corn: 8 -10 ears of corn, stripped of greens and silk, unsalted butter, coarse sea-salt.
1 – Tear off enough tin foil to wrap each ear of corn. Put an ear of corn in the center of the foil and press a pat of butter onto the center. Sprinkle with salt and wrap up. Repeat until all corn is ready for the grill. Place on grill and turn every 6 minutes and check corn after 20 minutes. Add more butter and salt if desired.
For the Onions: 2 big sweet onions, cut into 1/2″ thick rounds, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar, good pinch of coarse sea-salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper.
1 – Whisk all ingredients together (except the onion slices) in a little bowl. Place onions in shallow dish and pour dressing over them. Mix about and let them sit until ready for the grill. Grill on each side until cooked (about 6-8 minutes per side)
For potatoes and Asparagus: 3 lbs baby, 1 bunch of asparagus, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbs honey, 1/2 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tsp coarse sea-salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 – Whisk everything (except the asparagus and potatoes) in a bowl. Wash potatoes and place in pot and cover with water. Place on stove-top and boil gently until just cooked. Drain in colander. Wash and dry asparagus. When potatoes have cooled (but still warm) place in bowl and place asparagus in shallow bowl. Add dressing to each and mix until everything is well coated.
2 – Place potatoes in a big doubled piece of foil and close into a pouch shape. Place on grill and cook for about 12 minutes. Put asparagus directly onto the grill and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn every now and then. Place back in dish with marinade when done (soaks up more flavor).
To serve: Place everything on table. Plates optional!
End meal with Grilled Marshmallows and Fireworks!