YOUR BUDGET doesn't have to go up in flames when you barbecue.
Passing by the costly porterhouse steaks and butterflied legs of lamb in the fresh meat case leaves all sorts of options for interesting and delicious grilling, at prices ranging from very reasonable to downright cheap. Many bargain meats also have the added advantage of being featured at sale prices throughout the summer.
Some of these usually are avoided because they need trimming, cutting, disjointing or boning. But although these procedures take a little extra time, they are not difficult, and with a good sharp knife and a little resolve they can usually be self-taught.
Other inexpensive cuts of meat are passed by because they are unfamiliar--as in breast of lamb or beef heart. Still others are not even considered for the barbecue because they are believed to be too tough for grilling and are thought to lend themselves only to braising or stewing.
But chuck roast, for example, is tender and delicious grilled when it has first been pounded with the blunt edge of a cleaver and marinated. A boston butt shoulder roast can be boned and butterflied (most butchers willingly do this for you), brined for two days and then grilled for an elegant dinner party main course. The fresh picnic, also from the shoulder of the pork, is succulent and delicious when skinned, boned, cubed and marinated in a Greek-style marinade, then grilled and stuffed in pocket bread with fresh vegetables, feta cheese and a splash of vinegar.
A whole fryer, which costs one quarter as much per pound as chicken breast halves, makes a beautiful and unusual centerpiece for an Indian dinner as chicken tandoori, marinated in yogurt and spices and slowly grilled to a rosy perfection.
A mixed grill, popular in many countries, also makes use of many unexpensive cuts of meat, especially heart, liver and kidney.
Most butchers are willing to bone large cuts of meat and will often slice roasts and hams. A good butcher will also help you understand the bone structure of various cuts of meat and show you how to handle them yourself; or consult an illustrated guide to buying and using meats such as the bargain-priced "The Complete Book of Meats," by Phyllis C. Reynolds (William Morrow and Co. paperback). CHUCK ROAST WITH MUSTARD AND SHALLOTS (8 servings) 1 chuck roast, about 5 pounds For the marinade: 1/3 cup German mustard (can substitute dijon) 3 tablespoons minced shallots 1/4 cup virgin olive oil 1/4 cup madeira 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground Salt to taste
Remove the bones and outer layer of fat and gristle from the roast. Pound vigorously on both sides with blunt side of a cleaver to tenderize, taking care not to break it apart. Pound the section just inside the fat layer more than the rest of the roast. Combine all the marinade ingredients except the salt and rub into the meat. Cover and refrigerate two days. To grill, remove meat from the marinade, add salt to taste, and grill medium rare, turning and basting often. SOUVLAKI (Grilled Pork Kebabs (Greek-style pork in pita bread) (6 to 8 servings) 1 fresh pork picnic roast, about 6 pounds (yielding 3 pounds boneless meat) For the marinade: 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed 1/4 cup virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon thyme 1/2 teapoon oregano 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper For the pocket bread: 1 teaspoon salt to taste 10 to 16 pita breads, warmed 1 head iceburg lettuce, shredded 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, cut in thin wedges White wine vinegar
Remove skin, bone the roast and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Toss with combined marinade ingredients and steep 1 to 2 hours. Prepare a charcoal fire, remove the meat from the marinade and skewer. Sprinkle with salt to taste and grill 8 inches above a moderate fire, turning and basting often, taking care not to overcook. Cook about 15 minutes total, as you would cook beef cubes to medium doneness. To serve, put some of the grilled meat into the pocket of a pita bread along with some of each of the remaining ingredients and sprinkle in a little white wine vinegar. CHICKEN WINGS WITH LIME AND PEPPER (8 servings) 3/4 cup virgin olive oil 4 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked 10 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised 3 limes, sliced Zest and juice of 2 limes 2 dozen chicken wings Salt to taste
Combine oil, pepper, garlic, lime slices, zest and juice and toss with wings. Marinate several hours. Prepare a charcoal fire, remove the wings from the marinade, sprinkle with salt, and grill, turning and basting often. Note: Other chicken parts are also delicious prepared this way. HERBED HOME--CURED PORK BUTT ROAST (6 servings) 5-to-6-pound boston butt pork roast, boned For the brine: 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup salt 7 quarts warm water 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, cracked 8 bay leaves, bruised with a mallet 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried For cooking: 1/3 cup olive oil Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
In a non-reactive container such as glass, porcelain-clad or stainless steel, make the brine by dissolving the brown sugar and salt in the warm water. Add the remaining brine ingredients and, when brine is cool, add the roast. Be sure it is submerged. Weight it down with a plate if necessary, cover and refrigerate 1 or 2 days.
Several hours before grilling, remove container from refrigerator and allow meat to come to room temperature. Remove from brine and pat dry. Rub with olive oil and allow to rest while preparing a moderately low charcoal fire.
Grill the roast 30 to 45 minutes, turning often until the internal temperature is about 140 degrees for juicy pinkish meat.* Cook to 150 degrees for a more well-done roast.
Remove roast from grill and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve garnished with rosemary sprigs.
*Pork is juicy, delicious, and completely safe to eat when cooked to 137 degrees Fahrenheit. BARBECUED SHORT RIBS KOREAN STYLE (6 servings) 12 pieces lean short ribs, each 3 inches long For the marinade: 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, crushed 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper 3 tablespoons sugar 1 1/2 cups sake or dry sherry 2 scallions, minced 6 cloves garlic, minced For cooking: 1/3 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons toasted crushed sesame seeds, for garnish
Trim the ribs of exterior fat and score to the bone at 1-inch intervals. Combine marinade ingredients and marinate ribs 1 hour. Just before grilling, add soy sauce . Prepare a moderately hot fire and grill ribs, 6 to 8 inches above grill, turning and basting often, until interior layers of fat are cooked and juicy, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve very hot, garnished with sesame seeds.
Note: Beef back ribs and breast of lamb are delicious prepared in this marinade. For the lamb, simmer first in water, cover for 1 hour to tenderize and remove much of the fat. Cool, marinate 1 hour and grill. TANDOORI CHICKEN (8 servings)
A classic Indian dish, this is served on a bed of "salat"--shredded onion, tomato, radish and chilies dressed in lemon juice and salt. 1 teaspoon saffron threads or substitute 1 teaspoon annatto seeds* 1/4 cup boiling water 2 frying chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon salt For the marinade: 1 tablespoon ground coriander 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon ginger root, minced 1 1/4 cups unflavored yogurt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring (optional) 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter
Combine saffron and water and allow to steep 5 minutes. Make deep slits in breasts and thighs of chicken, and rub them thoroughly with the combined lemon juice and salt. Combine the marinade ingredients with the saffron and its water, pour over the chickens and marinate, refrigerated, for 24 hours.
To grill, string the two whole birds on a spit, tying the wings and legs close. Baste with the marinade and place over a moderately hot charcoal fire about 1 hour, basting often. If you don't have a rotisserie split the birds, marinate as directed and grill, turning and basting often.
*Note: Annatto seeds are available at Latin groceries. To use, pour 1/4 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon annatto seeds and allow to steep for 1/2 hour. Strain and discard seeds and add the liquid to the marinade ingredients.