Sure, you can eat clean at your average backyard barbecue if you stick to bunless burgers and wilted side salads. But that’s not a lot of fun. Enter these high-protein, low-carb, Paleo-inspired grilling recipes featuring worldly flavors and unique combinations that allow you to stick to your eating plan without sacrificing taste or nutrition.
“To me, grilling is an experience more than simply a cooking method. It’s an event that engages all of our senses,” says James Phelan, chef and owner of J. William Culinary and co-author of Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking With Fire. “Plus, the heat brings out a complexity of flavors, whether it’s meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables.” Pair this fare with our favorite guilt-free summer cocktails for a summer night everyone will love.
Recipes adapted from Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking With Fire, by Tony Federico and James William Phelan (Fair Winds Press).
Recipes by James Phelan; Photographs by Moya McAllister; Food Styling by Dana Bonagura
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1. Korean Lamb Burgers with Grilled Portobello “Buns” and Kimchi
Portobello mushrooms make a perfect substitute for carb-heavy buns in these Asian-inspired burgers. Lamb has a rich taste, but you can sub in ground beef if you prefer.
Makes: 4 servings
8 large portobello mushrooms with stems removed
1 lb ground lamb (look for 90/10 blend)
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp pickled ginger, minced
2 scallions,thinly sliced
2 tbsp rice wine(can sub in dry sherry)
1⁄2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1⁄2 tsp coarsely ground sea salt
1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup kimchi (buy at Asian specialty stores)
1⁄4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup shredded carrot
2 oz fresh napa cabbage, thinly shredded
Heat grill to medium high. Drizzle mushroom caps with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange mushrooms cap-side down on the part of the grill that has indirect heat. Close lid and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels; cover.
To prepare burgers, combine lamb in large bowl with remaining ingredients. Form into four patties and place over direct heat. Cook burgers to desired degree and set aside on a plate to rest.
To serve, turn one mushroom gill-side up, then place burger on top of mushroom. Add a portion of kimchi and a few slices of red onion, carrot, and cabbage. Top burger with second portobello-mushroom bun; wrap halfway with butcher paper or foil.
Blackening meat over high heat adds incredible flavor and texture, but be careful: To avoid blackening your hands, too, use long tongs and gloves.
Ingredients Makes: 4 servings
1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp dehydrated onion
1 tbsp ground dried thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (5 to 6 oz each)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 lemons, halved
Prepare grill and put a cast-iron skillet directly over the flame. Allow skillet to heat up for about 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic, onion, thyme, black pepper, chili pepper, and salt. Rub chicken with 2 tbsp oil; then coat on all sides with seasoning.
Carefully place chicken in skillet. Pour 2 tbsp oil over each piece and let chicken cook for 2 minutes before flipping.
Using grill mitts, move skillet to indirect heat and allow chicken to continue cooking until juices from the meat run clear or it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Squeeze fresh lemon over each piece before serving.
3. Grilled Pork Cutlets with Apple Saffron Compote
The sweet-and-sour compote pairs perfectly with pork; serve with cauliflower rice.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
10 saffron threads
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
To make compote, combine honey, vinegar, and saffron in a small saucepot. Reduce by half, cooking over low heat until slightly syrupy. Add apples and cook 2 minutes more while stirring. Reserve and allow to cool.
On a cutting board, cut tenderloins into 1.5″ pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then pound gently with meat mallet until about .5″ thick. Place tenderloins on lined sheet pan; set aside.
Preheat grill to medium, and coat with oil. Place tenderloins on grill. Cook 2 minutes, then turn 90° and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip meat; repeat process on other side. Remove from grill; let rest for 5 minutes.
Top with Apple-Saffron Compote and serve with cauliflower rice.
Take advantage of sweet summer peaches to add moisture and flavor to low-fat ground turkey breast.
Makes: 4 servings
2 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk celery,diced
1 medium peach, slightly under-ripe, pitted and diced small
2 sprigs tarragon, finely chopped
1⁄2 tsp white pepper
1 lb ground turkey breast
4 leaves of green-or red-leaf lettuce, washed and dried with a paper towel
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and celery; sweat 30 seconds. Add peach; sauté for 1 minute until slightly brown but firm. Remove from heat; stir in tarragon and white pepper. Add mixture to a small bowl and let cool in refrigerator.
When mixture has cooled, combine with turkey; form 4 patties.
Heat grill to medium high. Cook burgers for 5 minutes before flipping. Close lid and cook 5 to 8 minutes more or until internal temperature of burgers reaches 165°F.
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp fresh tarragon
1⁄4 cup White Balsamic Vinaigrette*
Set grill to medium-high heat. Place onions over hottest part of grill and cook for 10 minutes. Turn onions over; grill for another 10 minutes. When done, the outside should be charred and the insides should start to soften.
Move onions to indirect heat or off grill. Place fennel over heat and grill for 2 minutes on each side. Remove fennel and onions from heat; refrigerate until completely cool.
Once cool, peel off charred outside of onions and cut off ends. Cut onions in half and into strips. Cut fennel in half and into strips.
Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss. Arrange in a serving bowl.
5. Ahi Tuna with Macadamia Peach Chutney and Avocado Tomato Salad
Sear or grill high-quality, fresh tuna at high temperatures and the naturally occurring sugars will react with amino acids in the meat to form hundreds of different flavor compounds. This salad recipe makes enough to serve eight, so save some leftovers.
Makes: 6 servings
4 6-oz Ahi tuna steaks, cut from center of loin, about 2 inches thick
cracked black pepper
2 tbsp Macadamia-nut oil (can also use grapeseed, avocado, or olive oil)
1 cup apple-cider vinegar
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 peaches, pitted and diced
10 toasted macadamia nuts, crushed
Avocado-heirloom tomato salad
4 Hass avocados, pitted and diced
1 pint Heirloom or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
sea salt and black pepper to taste
To prepare chutney, simmer apple-cider vinegar and coconut sugar over medium heat until reduced by half.
Add peaches and nuts; simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove pan from heat. Cool to room temperature.
Heat grill to medium high. Rub tuna with pepper and oil. Place tuna over direct heat and sear for 1 minute.
Turn 90° and cook for another minute before flipping. Repeat process on the other side. When done, tuna should be red and cool at the center. Transfer tuna to a cutting board and slice with a very sharp knife.
Combine all ingredients for avocado–heirloom tomato salad in a small mixing bowl. Mix gently, making sure to not mash avocado. Spoon equally on four plates and top with tuna.
Nutritional info (per serving with salad and chutney)