On the menu, Chez Uehlein:
Grilled Chicken Breasts
Corn on the Cob
What does an award-winning chef cook for family and friends? In summertime, with its abundance of fresh produce and sunny weather, Canyon Ranch Corporate Chef Scott Uehlein favors simple meals from the grill.
His at-home menus are surprisingly easy to pull off: Grilled chicken breasts and zucchini, plus quick-boiled corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes is a favorite. It doesn’t get any more delicious – or good for you – than this.
So simple, so yummy
“I get my tomatoes sliced beforehand, shuck the corn – I like white corn – and cut the ends off two or three zucchinis and slice them lengthwise into pieces about a quarter-inch thick,” he explains. “I’ll cut them in half first if they’re really long.”
Then he tosses the squash with gray sea salt, pepper, fresh garlic and enough olive oil to just coat the slices. He lets it all sit for a few minutes while he grills the chicken.
“When the chicken’s done it needs to rest, so I take it off and cover it, then put all the zucchini slices on the grill one at a time over a medium-high flame. By the time I get the last slice on, the first one is ready to turn. Once both sides are seared, I’ll close the cover for a minute or two and, there, I’m done.”
For the chicken, he prefers boneless skin-on breasts for maximum flavor and juiciness. To get them ready for the grill, he lifts up the skin, sprinkles some Montreal Steak Seasoning underneath and sprays the skin with a little canola oil. He then sears each piece on both sides before turning the flame down to low-to-medium to finish cooking. He removes the skin before serving.
“When you discard the skin you get rid of most of the fat. In addition, you always want to avoid eating anything charred – that black crust contains carcinogens. Grilling adds lots of flavor and can be a very healthy method of cooking because it’s low in fat, but you do want to avoid letting the flame flare up and char the food.”
For the same reason, Uehlein says, he uses just a light coating of olive oil on the squash.
“Zucchini is not something I particularly enjoy prepared steamed or boiled because it tends to be watery,” he says. “But it’s my favorite vegetable for grilling. Even my kids will eat zucchini cooked this way.”
He prefers corn on the cob boiled and served with just butter and salt.
“There are a dozen ways to grill corn on the cob, but they all make it chewy, to my taste. You can’t beat plain old boiled white corn on the cob. I don’t even add salt to the water because it toughens it.”
If Uehlein has really ripe slicing tomatoes, he’ll serve them with nothing more but sprinkling of fleur de sel sea salt. If good full-size tomatoes aren’t available, he’ll use miniature teardrop or cherry tomatoes, cut them in half and dress them with some chopped fresh basil and onion and a bit of salt and pepper.
Unfussy, healthy and bursting with the flavors of summer – that’s this chef’s favorite casual summer menu.
Chef Scott’s tips for great grilling:
- Have all preparation complete before you light the grill so you can concentrate on cooking.
- Gas is easier than wood or charcoal, but try setting a pan of soaked mesquite chips on the grill for added flavor. (Uehlein doesn’t use charcoal briquettes – “I don’t know what’s in those things.”)
- Don’t let oil or meat fat drip into the flames.
- Don’t use sugary marinades – they tend to char.
- Use simple preparations that showcase the vivid flavors and colors of summer.