Kicking and screaming, warm weather has finally arrived in Wisconsin and the days when you may not feel like turning on the stove (for one reason or another) are not far away. Since we in the kitchen turn on the ovens for a living, we aim to make your summer easier by providing you with full-meal options as you shop the Willy, much as we did last spring. We’ve made some changes since then, and I’m writing here to give you a preview of what to look for in the upcoming weeks and months

Grilling tips

What aroma, primal and bold, signifies the onset of summer like nothing else? The smell of the grill, of course. Grilled foods have enjoyed a bit of a mixed reputation of late owing to reports that they are lower in fat than fried foods (sometimes, not always true) but may also contain carcinogenic compounds (heterocyclic amines) formed when meat is charred on the grill. Here’s the rub (no pun intended): Researchers at the Livermore National Laboratory in California found that marinating chicken in a simple vinaigrette reduced 90 percent of potential carcinogens in the finished grilled product-but one of the main culprits in charred grill food is oil-rich marinades dripping from the meat to the coals and causing flare-ups. The solution? Marinate away, but don’t (as is a common mistake) feel that you need to submerge the meat (or fish or vegetable) under an inch or two of marinade-all you need for either health of flavor purposes is a coating, then let it sit overnight under plastic wrap. This will really help cut down on flare-ups while promoting the protective effect described above. Additionally, choose items for the grill that are low in fat-this will also cut down on flare-ups and amplify the health benefit of grilling the food.

Grilled entrée choices

With that said: We are going to be producing and promoting grilled entrée choices this summer, concentrating on marinated and glazed chicken and fish. We may dabble a bit in red meat, but in order to sell it from our case, it must be fully cooked and not everyone cares for a well-done steak—in addition to which, research supported by the National Cancer Institute suggests that well-done red meat, especially grilled, is much higher in potential carcinogens than meat cooked to rare/medium-rare—so we’ll probably let you make that choice on the patio. Here are some of the selections that are coming up off the grill:

  • Chile-rubbed Bell and Evans chicken breast with lime-coconut sauce
  • Mahi-mahi with chipotle-pineapple glaze and cinnamon basil
  • Willow Creek St. Louis-style ribs glazed with reduced balsamic vinegar and potted fig relish
  • Willow Creek boneless pork loin chops marinated in honey, olive oil and lavender
  • Bell and Evans chicken marinated in cumin, coriander and lemon
  • Grilled summer squash with pine nuts, marjoram and Sicilian olives

Deep fried feasts

Additionally, we’ve been experimenting with some deep-frying in the kitchen and, while it makes one hell of a mess, some things are worth cleaning up after. Expect to see traditional Southern fried chicken (marinated in buttermilk), black bean empanadas and pesto-stuffed fresh mozzarella, among others. Cold fried chicken is almost a dish in the canon all on its own, but reheating on some of the others can be a little tricky—we recommend microwaving whenever possible to avoid drying out. If it’s not an option for you, try the oven at 350º, but throw a foil cover on the pan.

Returning favorites

Those of you who shopped and enjoyed the entrees in the Deli case last year—please write in and let us know if you’d like to see any of them return and also if there were particular aspects of any of them you really liked and would like to see expanded on in future menu selections. Our goal is to be able to provide the option of buying a whole meal out of our Deli for ready home or picnic preparation, so we’re all ears when it comes to your preferences. See you at the Deli.