And there's no one better to share recipes for a succulent holiday meal than one of the nation's top grilling experts, Elizabeth Karmel, executive chef of Hill Country Barbecue in Manhattan.
On "The Early Show," she demonstrated how to make a terrific and simple Texas Beef Tenderloin on the grill, and some Country Hill Fried Chicken on the stovetop to make any picnic perfect - not to mention super side dishes and, for dessert, Peach and Blackberry Pie with Struesel Topping!
Texas Tenderloin (of Beef)
1 4-5 lb beef tenderloin, cleaned and trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper or favorite BBQ rub
Grilling method: Combo/ Medium Direct and Medium Indirect Heat
1. Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect grilling or preheat a gas grill.
2. Pat tenderloin dry with paper towels, brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Sear tenderloin over direct heat until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer seared tenderloin to indirect heat and continue to cook until internal temperature reaches 120-125° for rare to medium rare.
4. Remove from grill and allow to rest before slicing.
Classic Hill Country Fried Chicken
1 quart (4 cups) buttermilk
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 Tablespoon butcher grind black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 3-1/2 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces (breast, thigh, drumstick, wing)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon salt and pepper blend or favorite BBQ or Spice rub
Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
Favorite Spice Rub, optional
Paper lunch bags
Sheet pan fitted with a rack
1. In large non-reactive bowl, combine buttermilk with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from buttermilk, discarding marinade. Combine flour, salt and pepper and/or any other spices. Whisk well to make sure the spices are well distributed. Place a cup of flour in a paper bag. Shake the chicken to coat well. Set out on a cookie sheet. Continue with chicken one piece at a time, adding more seasoned flour as necessary. Let the floured pieces of chicken sit for 5-10 minutes to let the coating sink in.
3. Meanwhile, in deep cast-iron skillet or chicken fryer, heat 1-inch oil to 365°. Add chicken and cook, turning twice, 20 minutes or until chicken is the desired color of golden brown and mostly cooked. Remove pieces as they are done and place on the sheet pan fitted with a rack.
4. Place chicken on the rack in a preheated 325ºF oven and let chicken continue to cook until the juices run clear and it registers 170ºF. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before eating. Can also be served cold or room temperature.
Blistered Corn Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 pounds corn kernels
1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
1/2 cup diced shallot
1-1/2 cups finely chopped green onion (2 bunches)
1/2 cup chopped jalapeño pepper
4 tablespoons diced pimiento, drained
Sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1. Preheat a heavy-duty sauté pan. Add olive oil and butter. Add corn to sauté pan. Char corn high heat. Drain and transfer to large bowl.
2. Blend in dressing, and let cool. Add remaining ingredients; mix well.
Note: Taste and re-adjust seasonings if necessary; this salad needs more salt when served chilled.
Yields 8 cups.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Freshly ground pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
Whisk vinegar and mustard together, add salt and pepper. Slowly add oil until it is emulsified.
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour, such as White Lily
Pinch of salt
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup Crisco
1/2-3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400º F.
1. Mix flour and salt with a whisk.
2. Work butter and shortening into flour until it looks like small peas.
3. Slowly add buttermilk. You will need to vary the amount of buttermilk based on the humidity. Add enough buttermilk to make the dough wet and sticky.
4. Using two spoons, pick up a generous amount of dough and drop the biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet or on a baking sheet fitted with a Silpat.
5. Brush tops with butter and bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve hot.
Peach and Blackberry Pie with Streusel Topping
1 (9-inch) pie crust, pre-baked
4 generous cups fresh peaches; peeled, pitted and sliced
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of Ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 generous cup fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of ginger
1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
1. Cook peaches and sugar in large saucepan until tender, about 5-10 minutes, depending on ripeness. If you use frozen peaches, you will need to cook them longer.
2. Combine cornstarch and cold water to make slurry, add to cooked fruit and allow to thicken by cooking for another 3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla. Let cool.
4. Meanwhile, toss blackberries with flour. Add blackberries to cooled peaches.
5. Make streusel topping: Combine the sugar, flour and spices until well mixed. Cut in the softened butter to form streusel and set aside.
6. Transfer fruit to pre-baked pie shell. Sprinkle with streusel topping.
7. Bake 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven or until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling. Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.