On Saturday family and friends gathered in our yard, I prepped dishes in the kitchen and my husband lit the charcoals to help carry out my Grilling Greek event for May’s installment of Foodbuzz 24×24. This was only after my husband and I had been bickering for the greater part of Friday evening, he insisting it was going to rain the next day and we should postpone the barbecue and I insisting (yelling and demanding are good synonyms) that the barbecue needed to take place on the 29th along with the other 23 meals planned, hence the name Foodbuzz 24×24.
Silly us … we woke up Saturday morning and the weather was close to perfect. The temperature was just right (a warm 75 degrees) and the sun came and went behind a few clouds, a great alternative to it beating down on us the entire time we were out in the yard. So with weather worries behind us, we started cooking up our meal. It’s safe to say I grossly over-estimated our grill. We haven’t yet invested in one of those shiny, over-sized gas models so we set to work staggering cooking of everything on the menu on our humble 22-inch Weber charcoal grill. By the time we got through the octopus, shrimp, burgers, chicken, eggplant, tomatoes and onion my husband was gazing at me with a rather hostile look and I could tell exactly what he was thinking, “Do not. Bring out. Another. Platter. Of food.” So, I nixed the remaining two dishes I had planned–whole red snappers wrapped in grape leaves and barbecued potato smash–in hopes of curbing a marital barbecue battle and keeping this Foodbuzz 24×24 relatively sane.
Onto our dishes. All-American family barbecues feature some pretty standard fare: hot dogs, burgers, chicken, ribs. But if you want to “Greek things up a bit” and add some Mediterranean flair to your grilling repertoire, throw some succulent seafood on the grill and … watch your guests literally lick their fingers clean.
Grilled Oregano Shrimp with Ladolemono
1/2 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
2 small red onions, sliced lengthwise into big chunks
2 1/2 lbs. whole shrimp (unpeeled), de-veined
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Marinate the shrimp for at least one hour and up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Once grill is ready (medium-hot charcoal), place a grill basket onto the grill and once the basket is hot add the shrimp and red onions and grill shrimp about 5 minutes until pink in color (turn shrimp once).
Arrange grilled shrimp on platter, spoon some ladolemono(recipe below) over top and serve with remaining ladolemono on the side.
2 small lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, squeeze the lemon juice and remove any pits. Season with salt and pepper, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Whisk well then cover bowl and set aside (at room temperature) until ready to serve.
Grilled Octopus Tossed with Grilled Red Onion and Capers
Note: I assumed that because I was using two large octopus that weren’t previously tenderized I needed to simmer them briefly until tender prior to placing them on the grill. As such, below I give you that recipe I put together but I will also say that next time I grill octopus I will try simply marinating for an hour before and then cooking it briefly directly on a very hot grill.
2 large octopus, about 6 lbs. total, cleaned well
3 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 medium-large red onions, sliced into thick rounds
2 heaping tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Place octopus into a large pot along with the thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Add enough water to pot to cover the octopus then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and cook octopus for about 45 minutes until tender. Remove octopus from water and set side. Once cooled, rub as much of the dark skin off the octopus as possible (rinse under cool water if necessary).
Meanwhile, brush the onion rounds with olive oil and grill until softened slightly. Place the onions in a serving dish and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the capers, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper until just combined then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
Cut the octopus into large chunks then season with salt and pepper. Grill over very hot charcoals until slightly crisp and somewhat browned on the outside. Add the octopus to the serving dish with the onions and then pour the balsamic/caper dressing over. Toss lightly to combine and serve.