Thursday, May 29, 2008

"Put another shrimp on the barbie!"

Memorial Day marks the official start of grilling/barbecue season and Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Restaurant (yes like the sauce) knows Chicago barbecue! Although I technically had the holiday off, I was happy to join the restaurant's executive chef/partner Paul Papadopolous, owner Dave Raymond (Sweet Baby Ray himself) and fellow chef Mike Nykaza for a grilling season kickoff segment at WGN.

Anchor/traffic reporter Val Warner led the segment as Chef Paul demonstrated Grilled Yukon Gold Potato Salad with Yukon Gold potatoes, hickory smoked bacon, red onion, balsamic vinegar, parsley and blue cheese. I snuck a bite afterwards and it was amazing! Paul also showed us a unique dessert, Elvis-inspired Peanut Butter and Banana Burritos...kind of like a s'mores with bananas wrapped in a tortilla instead of the graham cracker and gently grilled to melt it all together. Yum!

Chef Mike showed off his grilling skills with some baby back ribs, pork chops and chicken breasts, yet it still wasn't quite enough to feed the entire WGN morning news staff.

Finally Paul topped it all off with a demo of Grilled Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Skewers and Hawaiian Style Lamb Ribs...Overall a pleasing spread for any barbecue. Want to try this dishes on your own? All of the recipes are on the WGN site, here.

But, don't fire the grill up until reading the TOP 10 GRILLING TIPS, compliments of Sweet Baby Ray's:

10. Clean, preheat, & season grill before cooking.
9. Season or marinate foods well before grilling to enhance flavor.
8. Sear steaks, chops, and fish at high temperatures to lock in juices and flavor.
7. Use tongs or spatula to prevent puncturing food with a fork and loosing juices.
6. For perfect grill marks, rotate foods from 10:00 to 2:00 with 3 turns.
5. Never leave the grill unattended. Be patient and don’t ever abandon your post.
4. Learn to cook by sight: Watch the edge of meats become opaque indicating doneness.
3. Learn to cook by touch:
Soft = Rare
Some Resistance = Medium
Firm = Well Done
2. NEVER trust a skinny Chef!

Happy grilling!
Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Restaurant is located at 800 E. Higgins Rd. in Elk Grove Village. Open for lunch and dinner daily, and breakfast Saturday and Sunday. For catering and general information, call the restaurant at (847) 437-9555 or visit online at

The second restaurant location is at 249 E. Irving Park Rd. in Wood Dale; (630) 238-8261.

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