"It started as a summertime thing," explains grilling gal, Molly Stevens "but it soon became a year-round obsession." In Northern Vermont, where Molly lives, the summers are glorious but notoriously short. Not one to waste a good thing, Molly finds it hard to come indoors to cook when the days are long and the evening are better spent on the deck with a cold drink. The only practical solution is to take the cooking outdoors, and the most direct way to do that is to grill over live fire. From vegetables and fruit, to meat, poultry, and seafood, to pizza and clambakes, over the years, Molly has learned to grill just about anything that she likes to cook (or eat). Whether slow and low (barbecued) or hot and quick (grilled), it's a rare week that goes by without a few meals on the grill.
Now, in order to cover all the bases, Molly's got both a standard charcoal kettle grill and an outdoor gas grill. The gas grill is especially convenient for those nasty winter days when she doesn't want to spend any extra time outside getting the fire started and only the smoky taste of grilled food will take away winter's chill.
A culinary writer and trained chef, Molly has written a slew of articles and created even more recipes for the grill. Many have appeared in Fine Cooking magazine where she is a contributing editor and resident grill expert. Some of the Girls' favorite articles include: "Smoky-Sweet Grilled Vegetables" (Grilled Mushrooms with Sage, Parmesan & Prosciutto; Japanese Eggplant with Sesame-Ginger Glazed; Penne with Peppers, Fennel & Basil), "How to Cook a Roast on the Grill" (Spice Rubbed Grill-Roasted Pork; Herb Rubbed Grill-Roasted Lamb or Beef), "Juicy, Tender Grilled Chicken" (Chipolte Rubbed Grilled Chicken; Maple-Bourbon Glazed Grilled Chicken). We just love Fine Cooking and have included our new favorite recipe, Chipolte Rubbed Grilled Chicken as part of this Barbee-Q-Babe profile. All the other recipes can be found in back issues of Fine Cooking. Check the website at www.finecooking.com to find the exact issues.
Molly's also a huge fane of wintertime grilling. "Sometimes in the midst of winter, I just crave the taste of charred steaks, skewered seafood and fat sausages grilled outdoors with friends." She prefers to grill quick cooking, tender foods for her winter "barbecues" and always cooks with the lid down to keep the heat inside the grill. Her preference is for meat and fish no more than 1½-inches thick, and boneless when possible. Foods can cook more slowly in the winter, especially if it's very windy, so Molly's wintertime rule of thumb is "grilling about 5 minutes longer than in the summer and flipping the food about halfway through the total cooking time." She also offers this advice, "don't mess around trying to baste food while grilling in the winter, because opening the grill too often cools the grill too dramatically, thus increasing the cooking time."
"The thing that most appeals to me about grilling is the directness," Molly enthuses. "I just really feel like I am cooking in the most primordial sense when I'm grilling, and nothing beats the flavors that you get when food comes off the grill." Given Molly's classic culinary background, it's no wonder that she approaches grilling from a serious cook's perspective. Trained in France at La Varenne, she has directed culinary programs and taught at the French Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute, and L'Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Burgundy, France and Venice, Italy.
Molly currently works as a freelance food writer, editor and cooking tOne Potato Two Potatoeacher. She recently co-authored One Potato, Two Potato (Houghton-Mifflin) and we've reprinted our favorite recipe from the book, Grilled Potato Salad. The Girls' think it is perfect with the Chipolte Rubbed Grilled Chicken.
She also wrote New England, part of the Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series (Time-Life) and has worked on Best American Recipes (Houghton-Mifflin), Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion (Time-Life), The All New Joy of Cooking (Scribner), and several of Anne Willan's books, including From My Château Kitchen (Clarkson Potter) and Cooking with Wine (Abrams).