Try grilled drum sticks, a neat September meal

September’s season change is perfect for this neat meal

September will only be a little cooler than most summer months, but the difference is noticeable, especially in the evenings. Whatever the reason, enjoy it. This is obviously a meal to cook on the grill, and enjoying it outside is a plus, too. Just be sure to have the insect repellent fired up and working. Those blood-thirsty buggers don’t respect the seasons.

This is a recipe that came about while trying to find a different, but simple, way to cook drum. Truly, this is about as simple as it gets, and you can visit with family or friends while it’s cooking. Be sure to choose or make a variety of dipping sauces, ranging from mild and creamy to pretty spicy. You might even make a cheese sauce for anyone who likes fondue.

(Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

My current favorite dipping sauce is a combination of Ranch dressing and sriracha sauce. I am a bit of a sauce snob and make this exclusively with Hidden Valley Ranch, which is creamier, and Texas Pete Cha Sauce, which has a great smoky and sweet flavor. If you like creamy and spicy, be prepared for this to become your favorite for this and many other foods. The ratio of the mix is up to you and is easy to vary from mild to wild. The more Cha sauce you add, the spicier it will be.

I think this is just a little better with red drum, however, the limits are low, and without several people fishing, there might not be enough red drum to go around. Don’t fret, this is still good with black drum.

The basics

The wooden skewers still sometimes burn, even after soaking them, but I like them better than metal ones. Metal skewers get very hot and are difficult to hold to turn the fish, and they stay hot longer after removing them from the heat. I have threatened several times to do this with coat hangers, like roasting marshmallows, and leaving the end long enough it’s easy to handle, but I won’t remember to do this until I grab a hot skewer again.

I only use salt and pepper for seasonings with this so the flavors of the dipping sauces stand out. My preference is for pepper; I use very little salt. There is plenty in the dipping sauces.

There will be pieces of fish that are thicker and thinner. Try to match these together on skewers. My grill has a hot side, and I put the thicker pieces there so all will be ready at the same time.

This is a fun time around the grill, and the fish cooks quickly. Many of my friends say the best part is trying the many dipping sauces, and I agree. I made this just for us, and it has my Ranch and Cha mixed sauce, Tai sweet chili sauce and teriyaki sauce. Try a bunch. I’m sure there’s a dipping sauce just right for everyone.

Grilled drum sticks

Having a variety of dipping sauces makes grilled drum sticks a very interesting late-summer meal. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-1/2 pounds of drum fillets — red and/or black drum
  • Olive oil or buttery flavored, non-stick cooking spray
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • Dipping sauces: teriyaki, sweet mustard, hot sauce, cocktail sauce, homemade sauces, etc.
  • Wooden skewers

PREPARATION:

Wooden skewers should be matched to the size of the fish chunks you’re grilling. (Photo by Jerry Dilsaver)

Soak skewers in cool water as instructed, usually a minimum of 30 minutes. Trim any dark or red meat from the fillets, then cut them into pieces approximately 1 to 11/2 inches wide. They will be different lengths.

Slide the fish pieces on the skewers. Lightly rub the fish pieces with the olive oil or spray them with the cooking spray. Sprinkle the fish pieces with salt and pepper to personal preferences. Place the fish pieces and skewers in a Zip Lock bag and seal if possible. Put the bag of fish in the refrigerator to season for at least 30 minutes — longer allows the salt and pepper to season better.

Make any homemade dipping sauces while the fish pieces are seasoning.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Cook the fish, being careful not to overcook them. The time will vary according to the thickness of the fish, but it should only be 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Serve the fish hot off the grill with an assortment of dipping sauces.

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