Grill One for Mom: Our Mother’s Day Brunch Menu

Steven Raichlen and his mother Frances

Little known fact about Steven Raichlen (or at least about his childhood). My mother, Frances Raichlen, wore the barbecue pants in my family. Back in a day when most women wouldn’t go near a grill, my mother loaded ours with charcoal briquettes, lit it with gasoline! (do not try this at home), and charred T-bones anthracite black on the outside, leaving the center so rare it still mooed.

So as Mother’s Day rolls around, I always think of the role she played in inspiring my own career as a food writer specializing in smoke and fire.

According to the NRA (no, not that NRA—the National Restaurant Association), nearly half of all Americans will either dine out or order carryout on Mother’s Day. Dining rooms packed like sardines. Harried waiters. Doesn’t sound like much of a way to thank your progenitress to me.

Mom deserves better. Specifically, she deserves a home-cooked meal that requires her to lift not a single maternal finger. That means (drum roll please) firing up your grill.

Do it for brunch, that hybrid meal aptly described as “breakfast that begins with a cocktail.” Brunch has other advantages: it gives you plenty of prep time while your wife/mother sleeps in, and she still has most of the day left to relax.

Which brings me to the official 2015 Mother’s Day brunch menu:

Smoky Marys
Hot-Smoked Salmon with Grilled Bagels
Grilled Vegetable Frittata
Maple Candied Bacon
Grilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry “Salsa”

Here’s how you put it together.

  • The cocktail: A smoky twist on the bloody Mary. Use a Smoking Gun or other handheld smoking device, or smoke the tomato juice in a foil pan in your smoker or grill. Extra credit if you rim the glass with my All-Purpose Barbecue Rub.
  • The fish: Hot-smoked salmon (sometimes called kippered salmon). It’s been a Sunday morning staple in the Raichlen household for decades, and you can smoke it a day or two ahead. Start with wild Pacific salmon—in season now—it has a much better texture and taste than farmed salmon. Give it a short soak in Scotch whisky for extra flavor (and to remove any fishiness), then cure it for 4 hours in a salt and brown sugar mixture prior to smoking over alder or my Best of Barbecue Smoking Chips for Vegetables and Seafood. Serve with—what else?—grilled bagels.
    Smoked salmon

  • The eggs and bacon: A barbecue version of an Italian-inspired brunch classic: grilled spring vegetable frittata. Happily, it cooks at the same temperature as candied bacon, a wickedly addictive side dish. And Mom will appreciate the fact that the cooking and mess are all confined to the outdoors.
  • The dessert: End the meal with a dramatic dessert that’s a perennial favorite at BBQ UniversityGrilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Salsa and Tequila-Whipped Cream.

One parting word of advice: Don’t forget to clean up as you go along.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms on Planet Barbecue! We love you!