When the weather heats up in Oklahoma, some people run to the pool. I run to the fire. Grilling season has long been a favorite at my house, whether it is cooking a quick dinner for family or entertaining friends.
Between Independence Day, family reunions and lazy summer vacation weekends, July brings so many opportunities to host a backyard barbecue. The kids are out of school, so it is also the perfect opportunity to invite them into the kitchen to help.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we gathered some friends and family together to share a day of sunshine, hide and seek, pasta-making, digging in the dirt for worms (my chickens love worms) and grilling more food than 15 people can eat in one sitting.
For this particular culinary adventure, I enlisted most of my husband's family, our Historic District Lifestyle Administrative Director Steve Richards, and our friend Stephen Butler and his two children.
For the menu, my favored theme of "more is more" prevailed. We made several dishes, including Panzanella, a rustic Italian salad made with grilled bread, tomatoes, herbs, greens, red onions and a white balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh pasta is always a crowd pleaser, especially when kids are involved. Grilled local halloumi cheese, asparagus, carrots, scallions and potatoes made excellent sides for our trio of proteins.
Manning our two grills were my husband, Brandon Burt, and his father, Jeff Burt.
For the grilled chicken legs and the cedar-planked salmon, we used a Hasty Bake Legacy. Made in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 1948, Hasty Bake has produced charcoal ovens that grill, bake and smoke. The adjustable fire box allowed direct-flame grilling for the chicken, as well as gentle heat for the planked fish.
Chicken legs from Prairie Creek Farms in Kellyville, Oklahoma, needed minimal seasoning; salt, pepper and a good charcoal fire did the trick. Salmon on a cedar plank was perfect served with an orange, bourbon and maple glaze.
The second grill, an OFYR, is made of Corten steel, consisting of a fire bowl surrounded by a flat cooking surface, as well as a removable grilling grate. It was perfect for finishing off our sous vide tri-tip roasts, as well as the vegetables.
Back in the kitchen, Jeremy Burt and his three children—Brooks, 9, Annie, 7, and Eli, 4—rolled pasta dough as Stephen, Ruby, 6, and Toussaint, 2, prepared vegetables for the grill.
For dessert, balsamic vinegar gelato over grilled pound cake served with macerated strawberries sounded perfect to me. Fortunately, we had an adventurous group of little chefs, and they licked the plates clean as they asked for seconds of the "vinegar ice cream." I'm calling that a win!
One of my favorite things about cooking in the summer is the abundance of local food options. The OSU-OKC Farmers Market is a treasure trove of delicious and beautiful ingredients, as is Urban Agrarian in the Farmers Market District. Meats, cheeses, greens, vegetables, herbs and berries are available from farmers and producers from all over the state. Check out some of Oklahoma's best local offerings.
OSU-OKC Farmers Market
Fresh From OK
Pastured Berkshire pork and American Wagyu beef from Wayne, Oklahoma. Get the dry-aged steaks—trust me.
Prairie Thyme Farm
Goat's milk and cheese, as well as bath and body products, made with goat's milk in Newalla, Oklahoma.
Lovera's Cheese Company
A variety of Italian-style cheeses made at a family-owned creamery in Krebs, Oklahoma.
Wagon Creek Creamery
Grass-fed dairy, beef, eggs and seasonal veggies from Helena, Oklahoma.
Urban Agrarian, in the historic Farmers Market District (Also in Edmond)
Emre Natural Foods
A family-owned creamery producing Cypriot-style cheeses in Stroud, Oklahoma. The haloumi is perfect eaten straight off the grill.
Some of the best peaches you'll find anywhere, straight from Porter, Oklahoma.
Based in Miami, Oklahoma, JM Farms produces varieties of mushrooms that are perfect for the grill.
Prairie Creek Farms
Locally raised pork and chicken from three great guys in Kellyville, Oklahoma.
Marak Family Farm
Fresh local milk from a fourth-generation family operation in Meeker, Oklahoma.
Five generations of grass-fed beef raised in Enid, Oklahoma.