Temperatures are rising and summer is officially here. What better way to kick back and enjoy the best time of year than with a backyard BBQ? We packed our bags and headed south in search of the best summer recipes around. In Austin, TX, Meghan Erwin (food stylist, recipe developer, and all around cool girl) whipped up an amazing menu that we consider life changing. Grilled Butterflied Oregano Lemon Chicken, Spicy Black Beans, and a Lillet Grapefruit Sprtizer (hello, refreshing!!) just might be the perfect summertime combination. While you’re probably wanting to reach through your computer screen and serve yourself (Kate LeSueur’s photography skills tend to do that), we suggest waiting a bit and sharing this meal with your friends and family. Yep- your next BBQ has been planned!! Whether it’s a random Friday night (tonight??) or a certain Independence Day… this hearty meal will have you going back for seconds. Enjoy:

Grilled Butterflied Oregano Lemon Chicken:
Serves 4
Serve this simple chicken family style, with warm corn tortillas, avocado and fresh summer tomatoes (seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil, of course).

1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), butterflied* (see note below)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 jalapeno peppers
2 whole lemons, sliced in half
2 large red onions, sliced into 1½ inch thick rounds
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1. Combine, garlic, oregano, 3 tablespoons olive oil, butter, zest, salt and pepper in small bowl. Using your fingers, gently loosen skin of chicken and push oregano mixture between skin and meat, seasoning the breasts, legs and thighs. Season outside of chicken with any remaining herb mixture, salt and pepper.

2. Working on a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until very hot, about 5 minutes. Once hot, clean and oil grates. Turn back burners to medium and front to medium-high. Alternatively, prepare charcoal grill.

3. In a large bowl, toss jalapenos, lemons and onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables (flipping halfway) until deep brown and caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Place chicken, skin side up on cooler side of grill. Cover and cook, about 45 minutes. Flip chicken, placing skin side down, on hotter side of grill. Cover and cook until skin is crisp, thigh meat reaches 175 degrees, and breast meat reaches 160 degrees, about 10 minutes more.

4. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Carve and serve with grilled vegetables.

*Note on Butterflying a Chicken: using sharp kitchen shears, cut through bones on either side of backbone, removing entire backbone.  Flip chicken over and firmly press in center of breast, flattening chicken. 

Spicy Black Beans:
If you want your beans slightly soupy, add more water, if not, beans will have a slightly “refried” texture.

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and picked through (check for random pebbles)
6 cups water
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
3 to 5 chipotle peppers in adobo (depending on desired heat level)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt and Pepper

1.  Place black beans in large pot or Dutch oven, cover beans with 2 inches water. Bring beans and water to a boil, cover and remove from heat, letting beans soak, 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

2. In a blender, puree tomatoes, chipotle peppers, and 1 cup water until smooth.  Return beans to pot. Add tomato mixture and 5 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, adding water as needed to prevent burning. Remove lid and simmer uncovered, for about 30 minutes more, or until beans are tender and beginning to breakdown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Optional: top with queso fresco (or goat cheese) and diced avocado. 

Lillet Grapefruit Spritzer:
Slightly sweet, Lillet, the famous French aperitif wine, combined with tart grapefruit and bubbly, will quickly become your go-to summertime sipper.

Crushed ice
1 bottle Lillet, chilled
Fresh Grapefruit juice
1 bottle cava, prosecco or champagne, chilled
Fresh thyme sprigs
Sliced grapefruit

Fill an 8 to 10-ounce glass with crushed ice.  Fill glass to about ¾ full with Lillet, add a splash of grapefruit juice and top with bubbly of choice. Garnish with fresh thyme sprig and sliced grapefruit. Serve.

Voila! If you decide to recreate this summertime meal, be sure to share with us using hashtag #IntheKitchenWithRue!