Fourth of July grilling conjures up visions of the barbecue loaded up with various cuts of steak, ribs and chicken, while often times the side dishes take a back seat to the grilled meats. However, this year I'm envisioning the sides taking more of the focus and cooking them on the grill as well. I'm planning a Fourth of July menu of grilled juniper and coriander crusted venison tenderloin with smokey grilled sweet potatoes and grilled red chard with a fresh chimichurri sauce. You may think the star of the show will be the venison, but here it almost plays a background roll to the delicious grilled sweet potatoes and grilled red chard.
Grilling for Better Digestion
I love grilling all types of foods during all seasons of the year and here the grilling acts as a pre digestion on the outside of the body to make food more easily digestible on the inside of the body. This grilling step can initiate and facilitate the stomach’s decomposition and cooking of it's “middle burner pot”.
As I have explained before In previous recipes, the middle burner diet has the spleen and stomach as a “yin-yang pair” with the stomach's function being to receive food and liquids and to decompose and cook these as the spleen is the fire under the stomach that causes the distillation mechanism. According to Chinese medicine theory, the digestive process consists of first creating a “hundred degree Fahrenheit soup” in the stomach and that whatever facilitates the creation of such a hundred degree soup in the stomach benefits digestion, and conversely, whatever impedes or impairs the creation of a hundred degree soup in the stomach impedes or impairs digestion.
Chilled Food Requires More Energy for Digestion – Keep Your Stomach “Pot” Warm and Strengthen Your Digestion
Chilled and uncooked foods require more energy to transform them into a warm soup within the stomach’s “pot”. Since it takes energy or Qi to create this warmth and transformation the net profit from this transformation is less, on the other hand if we eat cooked foods warm or at room temperature, than less spleen Qi is spent in the process of digestion, this means that the net profit of digestion is greater.
Protein with Grilled Vegetables: A Digestion Strenthening Approach to July 4th
Cooking sweet potatoes on the grill is one of my summer time favorites and this is a great way to bring a nice smoky flavor to any Fourth of July BBQ. It's as simple as peeling your sweet potatoes, cutting them into wedges and tossing them with a little olive oil and a nice smoky rub such as a mix of paprika, smoked paprika, salt & pepper, chile powder and cayenne. You can add things that you like such as thyme, chipotle or garlic powder. Cook on medium high heat on the grill for only a few minutes per side and move them around the grill to control the heat as you want them to be tender but want a nice grilled char as well which will contribute to the smokiness.
I love grilling all types of greens and red chard is no exception. Separate the leaves from the stems as the stems will take a bit longer to become tender. Toss with a little olive oil, salt & pepper and grill on medium to medium-high heat to desired doneness. Here again, you want the stems and leaves to be tender while adding a bit of char from the grill. Rough chop and set aside.
Select the Protein that You Want
Any kind of protein you have available will work fine. I happen to have some beautiful lean venison tenderloin that I want to rub with ground juniper berry, coriander, black pepper & salt and grill to a nice medium rare. It only takes a few minutes on the grill as overcooking will quickly dry it out and make it tough. Don't forget to give it time to rest off the grill before you slice it.
The Sauce: Chimichurri
Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce or condiment similar in texture to a pesto that is popular throughout South America for use on grilled meats, fish or vegetables. The tangy vinegar and garlicky fresh herbs make it an easy summertime option to heavier steak sauces.
Feel free to come up with your own variation as you can substitute different herbs, chiles, vinegars and quantities of each ingredient to suit your taste. You can make this in a blender or food processor but I like to dice everything finely and just mix all ingredients in a bowl. There are many variations of this recipe, a favorite version of mine is as follows.
Prep time about 10 minutes
Serves about 4-6
- 2-3 Tablespoons Shallot
- 1-2 Tablespoons Garlic
- ¼-½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ½-1 Cup Parsley
- ¼-½ Cup Cilantro
- 2 Tablespoons Oregano
- 2-3 Ounces Sherry Vinegar
- 1-2 Ounces Lemon Juice
- ½ Cup Olive Oil or just enough to get things moving if using a blender or processor
- Pinch Sea Salt
- Pinch Pepper
- Adjust to taste
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