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What's Cooking? - Posted June 27, 2014 10 a.m.
Photos by Shannon Richardson Recipes created by Chad Lardie, Embers Steakhouse

The Experimental Grill

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Amarillo’s grilling community is a backyard divided. Some prefer the convenience of gas grills. Others stand proudly behind the robust flavor of charcoal. But almost all outdoor chefs agree: Summer is grilling season in the Texas Panhandle. Stoking the fires on a hot July weekend is never boring, but occasionally our menus can be a little dull. Surely those flames deserve more creative recipes than the same old steak and chicken-breast standbys. At least, that’s what local restaurateur Chad Lardie thinks. He oversees the grill at Embers Steakhouse and suggests flavoring up tired backyard menus with these delectable recipes, from coffee-rubbed steak to grilled salmon with cilantro honey.

Kona-Rubbed Rib-eye with Grilled Asparagus
4 rib-eye steaks
20 stalks asparagus, tough stalk removed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Kona rub seasoning

Kona Rub
3 ounces coffee
1 ounce smoked paprika
1 ounce dried ancho chile powder
Heat grill to around 400 degrees. Coat steaks on both sides with rub. Lightly coat prepared asparagus spears with olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper. Place steaks on hot part of grill; the widest part of the steak should be perpendicular to the grates on grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes; flip over to opposite side. Place asparagus opposite the grates of the grill. After 3 to 4 minutes, flip the steak again. Turn asparagus after another 3 minutes or so; it should be soft yet tender (al dente). Remove from grill to serving platter. After last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking, steak should be around medium doneness; adjust time for desired doneness. Let steak rest for 5 minutes before plating.

Makes 4 servings

Grilled Salmon with Mangos and Jalapeños
2 salmon fillets
Salmon seasoning or favorite barbecue seasoning
1 fresh mango
2 fresh jalapeños
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat grill to medium-high. Season salmon and place on oiled grill plates. While salmon is cooking, combine honey, cilantro, vinegar, salt and pepper, and lime juice in bowl; stir well. This can also be done in a food processor. After 3 to 4 minutes, flip salmon. Peel and slice mango into long pieces and place on grill. Wash jalapeños and place on grill (it is easier to leave them whole while grilling). After 2 to 3 minutes, flip salmon again. Plate grilled mangos and top with salmon. Cut off ends of jalapeños and scrape out seeds with paring knife. Cut into thin strips and place on top of salmon. Drizzle with cilantro honey and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings

Grilled Vegetable Salad
2 zucchini
2 yellow crooked-neck squash
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 medium red onion
3 portabella mushrooms
1 ounce olive oil
1 ounce balsamic vinegar
3 ounces goat cheese (may substitute blue or feta)
1 ounce fresh basil, julienned
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash all vegetables. Heat grill to 350 to 400 degrees. Cut ends off zucchini and squash; cut in half lengthwise. Peel onion and cut in half. Cut bell peppers in half and remove seeds. Scrape black ribs from center of portabellas. Place all vegetables in large bowl and lightly drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Grill until al dente – tender yet firm. Remove from grill and place on cutting board. Cut all vegetables into bite-size pieces; return to bowl. Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over vegetables and season with salt and pepper; toss until evenly coated. Place on serving platter and garnish with goat cheese and fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Meet the Cook: Chad Lardie

After graduating from Texas Tech’s Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management Program, Chad Lardie worked for more than a decade managing Johnny Carino’s restaurants. When local favorite David’s Steakhouse closed its doors in 2010 – opening up a well-known location in the Wolflin area – Chad jumped at the opportunity to create a restaurant of his own. He introduced Embers Steakhouse in early 2011, and delicious steaks, seafood and burgers have been sizzling on its charcoal and hickory-wood grill ever since.

“We’ve created a really great base of regular customers and are always bringing new customers in,” he says. “Because it started as a known location, some people may have confused us with David’s at the beginning. They saw we were doing something a little bit different, but familiar enough that they really enjoyed it.”

Chad says a focus on high-quality and unique cuts of meat is what sets Embers apart. He describes his restaurant as more closely aligned with a New York or Chicago-style steakhouse than a traditional southern one, which might serve chicken-fried steak or ribs alongside rib-eyes. “All of our steaks are hand-cut, and we offer a variety of steaks that people may not always see,” he says. These include bone-in buffalo filet and buffalo rib-eye steaks, as well as bone-in beef filets and rib-eyes.

He believes Amarillo is ripe for a more creative approach to steak and seafood. “People nowadays have a much more adventurous palate,” he says, praising the popularity of The Food Network for enhancing local taste buds. “We’re continuously changing the menu and offering some fun stuff.”

Chad’s three grilled recipes in this issue reflect that adventurous spirit. Not least is his recipe for Kona coffee-rubbed steak. “When you grill it, it gets rid of the coffee flavor but leaves a beautiful, roasted, flavored crust,” he explains. His grilled vegetable salad provides a fresh vegetarian option for the grill, and Chad’s recipe for grilled salmon, mango, and jalapeños with cilantro honey is a fantastic way to freshen up the traditional hot-dogs-and-burgers menu for July 4th weekend.

“Cooking-wise, grilling opens up so many great things you can do,” he says. “Almost anything can be grilled, from vegetables to pizza to potatoes.” Chad says summer is an ideal time to relax and toss something new onto the grill. “People tend to take cooking a little too seriously. Experiment with the grill. If something doesn’t work, try again. Add seasoning, or cook it longer. Have fun with it!”

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit and
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