Army chef gets things cooking with summer recipes

Staff Sgt. Edmund Perez places par-boiled chicken on the grill during a segment of "Grill It Safe," May 18, 2012. The beer barbecue chicken he is preparing is one of the recipes featured on Soldiers Live. (DOD photo by Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers magazine)

Best known as one of the Pentagon Channel’s “Grill Sergeants,” Staff Sgt. Edmund Perez is an Army chef and an enlisted aide. He loves feeding people – especially privates – and entertaining. As a member of the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, Perez will represent the United States at the World Culinary Olympics in Germany this summer.

To kick off the outdoor cooking season, Perez shared some of his favorite summer recipes with Soldiers Live. Now, we’re sharing them with you.

Beer Barbecue Chicken


4 pounds of chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 yellow onions, sliced ¼-inch thick

1 ¼ cups beer

1 ½ cups barbecue sauce


  1. Heat grill to approximately 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit, with coals set to one side of the grill, for two-temperature grilling.
  2. Combine beer, barbecue sauce and salt and pepper to create the marinade.
  3. Place chicken and onion slices on the grill over the coals, and allow to completely sear all around.
  4. Add the marinade mixture to a pan that can be placed on the grill, set aside.
  5. Once chicken and onions have been browned on all sides, move to the side of the grill with no coals; it’s OK at this point to stack if necessary.
  6. Place the pan with the marinade directly over the coals and allow contents to simmer until thickened.
  7. Occasionally brush chicken with additional marinade, and continue to cook with the lid on until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Remove from grill and set aside. Cover with Foil and wait until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


Grilled Potato Salad


2 pounds of red or white new potatoes

vegetable oil for brushing

5 lean bacon slices

For the mustard vinaigrette:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup pimentos, rinsed and drained

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

1/3 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley (optional)


  1. Bring a saucepan ¾ full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes, just until they can be pierced with a knife but are not completely tender. Do not overcook. Drain and pat dry. Brush the potatoes with vegetable oil.
  2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.
  3. Place the bacon in a cast-iron fry pan over the hottest part of a charcoal fire, or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill. Cook the bacon until crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  4. Oil the grill rack. Grill the potatoes over the hottest part of a charcoal fire, or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill, turning once or twice, until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife (15-20 minutes total, depending on the size of the potatoes).
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board. Let them cool just until they can be handled, then slice or cut into chunks, discarding any loose skin.
  6. To make the mustard vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, relish, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  7. In a large serving bowl, toss the warm potatoes, pimentos and shallot with the vinaigrette until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Let stand for up to 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Crumble the bacon and mix it into the salad. Garnish with the parsley. Serve at room temperature.




1 pound ground chuck or lean ground beef

2 tablespoons minced yellow onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fajita seasoning

1 teaspoon Fiesta Season-it-All

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 or 2 dashes of steak sauce

4 slices cheddar or Swiss cheese (optional)

4 hamburger buns, split

sliced tomato for serving

sliced sweet white onion, such as Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla, for serving

torn lettuce for serving

sliced dill pickle for serving

condiments of your choosing for serving


  1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, minced onion, garlic, fajita seasoning, season-it-all, salt, pepper and steak sauce. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each ¾ inch thick.
  3. Grill the hamburger patties directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 3-5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by cutting into a patty near the center or testing with an instant-read thermometer. No pink should show on the inside, and the internal temperature should register at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer. If making cheeseburgers, place a slice of cheese on top of each patty during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
  4. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, toast the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the grill. Serve the hamburgers on the buns with tomato, white onion, lettuce, dill pickle and condiments. Serves 4.


Grilled Portobello Burgers


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste

4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed

4 slices smoked Gouda cheese

4 round Italian rolls

2 tablespoons pesto

½ cup mayonnaise

1-2 tomatoes, sliced


Cook the mushrooms:

– Prepare a medium-hot fire on the grill, or preheat a stovetop grill pan.

– In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Using a small spoon, remove the gills from the underside of the mushrooms. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with the oil mixture.

– Place the mushrooms, stem sides up, on the grill and cook until nicely grill-marked (about 4 minutes). Turn the mushrooms over and cook until tender (about 4 minutes more).

– Place 1 cheese slice on top of each mushroom, 2 minutes before you remove them from the grill, and cook until melted.

Toast the rolls:

– Meanwhile, cut the rolls in half horizontally. Place each half, cut side down, on the cooler part of the grill and cook until lightly toasted (2-3 minutes).

Assemble the burgers:

– In a small bowl, stir together the pesto and mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pesto-mayonnaise on the cut sides of the toasted rolls.

– Place a grilled mushroom on the bottom half of each roll and top with tomato slices. Top each with a top half of the roll and serve immediately. Serves 4.


Turkey Burgers with Cranberry Relish


For the cranberry relish:

1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

pinch of ground cinnamon

pinch of ground clove

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the turkey burgers:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 ½ pounds ground turkey

1 cup day-old small corn bread cubes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 egg

4 sandwich rolls, preferably fresh-baked


  1. To make the cranberry relish, stir together cranberry sauce, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Let the relish stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before using, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Return the relish to room temperature before using.
  3. In a small fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the celery and onion to cook, stirring often, until softened (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, corn bread cubes, parsley, sage, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, egg and the onion mixture.
  5. Using your hands, mix together the ingredients until evenly distributed. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and form each into a patty 4-4 ½ inches in diameter and about ¾ inch thick. Take care not to handle the meat more than necessary or to compact the patties too much.
  6. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. Oil the grill rack.
  7. Grill the burgers over the hottest part of a charcoal fire or directly over the heat elements of a gas grill, turning once, until opaque throughout (6-7 minutes per side).
  8. About 1 minute before the burgers are done, place the rolls, cut sides down, along the edges of a charcoal grill where the heat is less intense, or on an area of a gas grill with lower heat, until lightly toasted.
  9. Serve the burgers in the buns with the cranberry relish. Serves 6.


Greek Pasta Salad


1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

½ cup chopped sweet red pepper

½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes

½ cup pitted Greek olives, halved

¼ cup chopped sweet onion

¼ cup minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water.
  2. Place pasta in a large serving bowl. Add the corn, red pepper, tomatoes, olives, onion, basil and parsley. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; shake well. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Yields 8 servings.

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