Fire Up the Grill: 5 Mouthwatering Recipes for Your Memorial Day Weekend

by Matt Moore on May 22, 2012 · 30 comments

in Cooking, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

For many of us, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of another great summer.  Thousands will flock to the beaches, lakes, and mountains of our great country to take in the warm sunshine and beautiful weather.  Of course, I’ll be right there with the rest of you.  Readied with a cold beer in one hand and a spatula in the other, I spend the majority of my Memorial Day weekends surrounded by family and friends at our lake house on Georgia’s scenic Lake Oconee.

On such weekends, my house typically becomes the center for all of the action.  After all, my family is pretty well-known for never meeting a stranger.  For instance, if you walked through my backdoor, momma would instantly offer up a variety of home cooked food and drink from her kitchen–quickly followed by an invitation to stick around for supper.  I suppose it’s true that the acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  I owe momma a debt of gratitude for my cooking expertise and Southern hospitality.

Since I can’t invite you all over for supper, I figured I’d offer up the next best thing: my recipes.  Whenever I’m at the lake, I prefer to spend my time outside–just man and grill.  These recipes provide an outstanding base of grilled fare for you to enjoy at your holiday cookout.

Most importantly, when you are surrounded by family and friends this weekend, enjoying some of the great recipes below, say a prayer for the members of our armed forces and their families. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Many of them are fighting battles or serving far away from those that they love. May our hearts and prayers be with them until they safely return home.



Bistro Steak Sandwiches + Caramelized Onion + Basil-Balsamic Mayo

Even with such a complicated name, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  However, don’t let the ease of this recipe fool you, as it boasts tons of flavor.  Follow my step-by-step instructions for this delicious and hearty favorite.  (Prep 15 mins, Cook 45 mins, Serves 4)

Bistro Steak Sandwiches

4 Hamburger Buns (French-style if available)
2 lbs. Skirt/Flank Steak
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Caramelized Onions (see below)
Basil-Balsamic Mayo (see below)

Caramelized Onions

2 Large Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Add ingredients into a skillet over medium low heat.  Cook onions for 25 – 35 minutes, stirring often until browned and tender.

Basil-Balsamic Mayo

1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
¼ Cup Fresh Basil, julienned
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Whisk together ingredients in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.  Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Cooking and Assembly

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.  Slice buns and cook cut-side down over direct heat until slightly charred and toasted.  Meanwhile, coat the skirt steak in oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Add the steaks to the grill over direct heat and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side for medium rare/medium (depending on the thickness).  Remove steaks from grill, allowing them to rest for 4 – 5 minutes before slicing.  Next, thinly slice the steaks on the bias and across the grain every ¼ inch or so.  Pile the sliced steak high on the bottom side of the bun, while generously coating the top side of the bun with the mayo and onions.  Top off the sandwich and serve immediately.

Grilled Beef Kebabs

These juicy, marinated kebabs are perfect for preparing a day or so in advance, and pulling out to quickly grill and serve in a matter of minutes.  Packed with tender beef and colorful vegetables, these are sure to be a hit with your guests. (Prep 15 minutes, Marinate 3 – 4 hours, Cook 15 minutes, Serves 4)

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Lemon, juiced
10 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, chopped

2 lbs. Top Sirloin Filets, cut into chunks
1 Large Red Onion, cut into chunks
Assorted Sweet Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 Pinches Red Pepper Flakes

1 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a zip-lock bag and marinate for 3 – 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.  Preheat grill over medium high heat.  Skewer ingredients evenly on metal or bamboo skewers (soak prior to using).  Place skewers over direct heat, grilling for 2 – 3 minutes on each side for medium.  Remove and rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.  Serve.

Grilled Rosemary Shrimp Kebabs

Tender, fresh shrimp are one of my favorite things to put on the grill.  The rosemary doubles as a skewer, while also providing a nice, herbaceous flavor to the hearty shrimp.  (Prep 10 mins, Cook 8 mins, Serves 4 – 6)

6 – 8 Large Rosemary Sprigs, soaked in water for 10 minutes
1 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat one side of the grill to medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, season shrimp in a bowl with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice and olive oil–toss until thoroughly combined.  Begin skewering shrimp, starting at the bottom of the rosemary sprig and working your way to the top (with the leaves), careful not to overcrowd.  Add shrimp to grill over direct heat, 1 – 2 minutes.  Move shrimp to indirect heat and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, or until firm and pink.  Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Oven Roasted/Grilled Baby Back BBQ Ribs

This recipe is written with the assumption that most of you do not have access to a smoker.  For those that do, you can replace the cooking process described below with simply smoking the ribs over low heat (175 – 200 degrees F) for 3 – 4 hours.  The result is a fall-off-the-bone rib that still packs plenty of bite and flavor.  Substitute spare ribs if desired.  (Prep 15 mins, Cook 3 – 4 hours, Serves 4 – 6)

2 Slabs Baby Back Ribs, trimmed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Garlic Powder
BBQ Sauce (I use Johnny Harris BBQ sauce out of Savannah, GA)

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.  Meanwhile, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Coat ribs in olive oil and season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Place ribs, meat side down, onto the baking sheet and bake 3 – 4 hours.  Next, preheat grill to medium-high, carefully add ribs over direct heat with the meat side up (as pictured) and coat in BBQ sauce.  Grill for 10 – 15 minutes and serve.

Red Cabbage + Chive + Blue Cheese Slaw

A colorful and delicious slaw, this version omits the mayo without losing any flavor.  It’s best to prepare this at least an hour in advance, keeping covered in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld before serving. This slaw makes a great side dish for all of the grilled items above.  (Prep 15 mins, Cook N/A, Serves 4 – 6)

5 Cups Red Cabbage, thinly sliced
¾ Cup Chives, sliced every inch on the bias
½ Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

Add the first three ingredients into a large serving bowl.  Next, whisk together the remaining ingredients until thoroughly combined.  Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over the cabbage and toss until evenly distributed.  Cover, and keep in the fridge for at least one hour prior to serving.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

What’s on your Memorial Day menu? Share your recipes and grilling tips with us in the comments!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ron Peters May 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm

These look great! The slaw and the mayo appeal particularly but, say… can’t a manly man be vegetarian?

2 Joel Poindexter May 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

No, Ron, one cannot. ; )

3 Josh B May 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

We had a cookout last weekend and I made some spare ribs that got eaten up so fast I didn’t even get to try any! I cooked them over indirect heat (250-300 degrees) on the gas grill for 30 minutes. Wrapped them in tin foil with about 8oz of apple juice in each packet, then cooked them at 375 for another 30 minutes. Lowered the heat down to 250 again and covered them in a layer of homemade BBQ sauce on each side, letting them cook for 5 minutes then turning and coating the other side and cooking for another 5 minutes. Keep doing this for 15-30 minutes depending on how much sauce you want. They were to die for (or so I was told)! All in all it only took about 2 hours to prepare and cook them.

4 Zak May 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Many a manly man is familiar with the classic hobo dinner. You may have a different name for it but it is essentially meat and vegetables, with a little bacon, wrapped in tinfoil and cooked in a fire. Replace the meat and potatoes with a seafood mix, asperagus, and a little bit of lemon to take this recipe from the trail to the family cookout.

5 Donna May 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Wow! Awesome.. those looks delicious, thanks for the recipes!

6 Matt May 23, 2012 at 12:53 am

How long does the Balsamic Mayo keep?

7 Peter M May 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

A manly man can most definitely be a vegetarian! I’m 210 lbs, play Prop and Hooker on my University’s Rugby team, and have been vegetarian for the past 5 years. It’s a great diet and allows your body to run cleanly. Now before being a vegetarian I was a MASSIVE meat eater – I’m a car carrying member of the 10×10 club (if you don’t know what that is then maybe you should look it up). I cook some mean Q, and the vegetarian items always freak people out because it’s hard to do good veggie Q and most people have never had it. So Joel, I hope you now see the error of your ways.

8 Peter M May 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

…[card] carrying member…

9 Andrew L May 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

When making hamburgers or anything that requires lightly grilling bread / buns, I usually butter them first. It softens the bread a bit and of course gives it a great taste, better than just plain ol’ bread.

10 scoticus May 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

it is easy and appropriate to retain manly man status while sticking to a vegetarian diet. i have been a strict vegetarian for 3 years. before that, i ate anything that walked (or crawled) the earth. i fully enjoy my meat-free existance. the key to getting a great flavorful expererience is the seasonings used. there are so many very good meat-free, protein products out there that it is easy to enjoy this type of eating. it’s healthier as you avoid the fats, cholesterol, chemicals and steroids found in modern meat products. just explore seasonings and you can recreate almost any meat dish. same great flavors, and better for you.

11 jape May 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

I find it good to sear the ribs on the grill for a few minutes for color before putting them in the oven. I also add a can of Guinness to the (double) foil wrapped ribs and into the oven – they come out amazing and cooking with beer is the art of manliness for sure.

12 Gary House May 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

Great recipes Matt! Though I would cook my ribs differently, the end result is all that matters!

Jape: Guinness goes great with Dutch oven stew also!!


13 Daniel May 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I would ignore the rib instructions above, and head on over to and get educated. And quit getting excited that they “fall off the bone”…

14 Kyle Dickens May 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Nothing beats Memorial Day on Lake Oconee, I’ll be up there myself. Hopefully I’ll be able to try some of these recipes out.

15 The Grill Guys May 24, 2012 at 5:17 am

You Guys Rock! What a perfect way to remember the fallen and celebrate the joys of life. Nothing says Freedom more than grilling what you want, where ever you want to. Cheers to you you all.

16 James May 24, 2012 at 10:03 am

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

17 Lauren @ Castello May 25, 2012 at 10:38 am

Can’t wait to get grilling this summer! I work with a brand called Castello Blue Cheese, and we’re on a Char-Broil Live grilling tour that’s going across the US–several months of grilling in the great outdoors! I love the steak sandwich with basil mayo, so maybe I’ll make that myself with a little Castello blue :)

18 Jason May 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

I’ll be smoking up a pork shoulder tomorrow so I can make a pulled pork fatties on Monday. So…damn…good.

19 kenneth wareham May 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I’ll be cooking up some more lonely yearnings with a flaming heart for foreign ladies that’s boiling over with desire of these unfogetable dreams of flaming hot romance and passionate evenings with one of the most absolutly drop dead gorgeous ladies that I am so in love with.please one of you lonely ladies e-mail me.

20 A6 May 25, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Veal, veal, and more VEAL. (Hope I wasn’t redundant here)

21 David May 26, 2012 at 1:33 am

I actually cooked both kebobs tonight, though I used venison instead of beef. They both turned out fairly well, everyone said they were good. I, on the other hand, am not super excited about either one. I am thankful for the recipes, don’t get me wrong, it led to a great night. But I think the beef were a bit too vinegary. I got great compliments from men and women on the shrimp presentation. Thanks for putting up the recipes, just wanted to inform others that the beef may be a bit too vinegary. Unless your from North Carolina and like that detestable NC BBQ

22 Grant May 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

Nice eats. However, I’d add a starch to the list:

Teriyaki Au Gratin Potatoes:

* Pre-boil potatoes for 15-20
* Peel and slice potatoes into 1.5″ x 1.5″ x .25″ dimensions (careful– they’re hot).
* Dice up one sweet onion per baking sheet, and about 3/4 of a head of garlic (6-8 cloves).
* Chop up one stick of butter in 1/8″ increments
* Layer all ingredients in a casserole baking pan (1.5″ in height). The key is to get all the ingredients to commingle — garlic, onion, potato and butter. No one wants to bite into a garlic patch.
* Pour about a half cup of teriyaki sauce and/or orange juice over the baking pan mixture. If you can find a citrus style teriyaki sauce, use that.
* Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
* Take out and mix in your cheeses. Colby, Cheddar, Parmesan, Jack, or whatever is your pleasure. I usually wing it and experiment with the amount of cheese. Have about a pound for every five pounds of potatoes.
* Cook for another 25-30 minutes until it is crispy brown.

23 Grant May 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

Just an FYI — I’m a tinkerer style cook. If you want a safer way to au gratin (with measurements, etc.), try this:

24 Matt May 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm


Thanks for the feedback. Sorry to hear that you felt like your beef kebabs came out with too much vinegar taste.

I might add that I noticed you substituted venison for the beef, and I think that might have accounted for some of your issue.

My recipe called for a top sirloin cut, which tends to be a bit fattier, so the vinegar helps to break that down.

Of course, venison is much leaner, so I would suggest modifying the recipe by adding a touch more oil, and a little less vinegar. Also, since venison is best cooked med rare, I assume your cooking time varied from what I proposed, and that might have left more of a vinegar/acidic taste to the meet.



25 Jon May 29, 2012 at 10:39 am

Wow these look great! I’ve never seen mint in the kabob recipe, is it a strong mint flavor or just a hint? Definitely going to try the Bistro sandwiches after work tonight! Great Article as always!

26 Ben June 2, 2012 at 12:57 am

Made the steak sandwiches. Fantastic.

27 Brad June 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

If you a steel bowl of water between 2 piles of hot colas, it will keep your ribs nice and juicy. Although this is a Memorial Day post, I am going to utilize a few of these recipes for the 4th of July!

28 Brad June 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

It will keep your ribs nice and juicy if you put a steel bowl of water between 2 piles of hot coals in your grill. Although this is a Memorial Day post, I am going to utilize a few of these recipes for the 4th of July!

29 don Roberto June 17, 2012 at 10:07 am

@ Peter M:
Perhaps you could provide links to the 10×10 Club and to this mysterious “Q,” as neither one seems to be yielding to my Google skills.

30 Jeremy May 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

@ don Roberto:

Same here. Only “10×10″ clubs I could find were book clubs.

@ Joel Poindexter: I almost fell out of my chair, laughing, at the dead straight faced answer :) Good call.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter