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A Taste of Summer – The New York Times

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Orecchiette with tomato sauce and kale.

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Sam Sifton emails readers of Cooking five days a week to talk about food and suggest recipes. That email also appears here. To receive it in your inbox, register here.

Good morning. I was out in Brooklyn the other morning, cooking chicken on a bunch of charcoal grills that my colleagues at The Sweethome are testing for a coming guide to the best ones available. (Watch this space!) The sun was pounding down, the smoke was copious and not really drifting up so much as filling the garden in which we were working, and all of our eyes were stinging and we were drinking cold iced tea and it was really glorious: the first taste of summer 2017.

You might try that for dinner tonight. No recipe. Just chicken parts roasted over coals in a brazier (or under the broiler in your oven if you must), painted for the last 15 minutes or so with a barbecue sauce made of nearly a cup of ketchup, something less than a cup of cider vinegar, a handful of brown sugar and a good dusting of smoked paprika if you have it, plain paprika if you don’t, cooked down in a small pot with salt and pepper to taste.

Maybe put some cumin in there? Maybe some red pepper flakes or hot sauce? “This is your world,” Bob Ross used to say. Make it as you like. Soundtrack: Burning Spear, “Marcus Garvey.” Play loud.

Serve the chicken with a simple slaw and some potato bread to mop up the excess sauce and to keep your fingers clean. Eat outside if you can. In the middle of the week, such a dinner can be revelatory. It can alter your perception of the week and your place in it. (Nervous about grilling? Here’s my guide to doing it well.)

So that’s tonight: a no-recipe dinner in keeping with our Wednesday tradition here at Cooking. Tomorrow you can return to strict instruction and make Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for orecchiette with tomato sauce and kale (above). Or, if you’re craving fish, you might try Melissa Clark’s recipe for fast Vietnamese caramel bluefish. Don’t worry if you can’t find bluefish. It works very well with mackerel, salmon or even trout.

Italian sausage sandwiches might answer later this week as well. Not to mention a platter of thin pan-seared pork chops. (Here’s a version with pea shoot pesto, if you see any at the market.) Make asparagus with miso butter. And a strawberry fool!

You could make avocado fattoush with mint vinaigrette. Or grilled leeks with romesco. It is hard living that the world is experiencing right now. The idea here is simply to cook something at the end of a long day of work or leisure (we serve both constituencies!), and make the lives of those you feed marginally better as a result.

Thousands more recipes to help you do so are available on Cooking. Go browse among them, and save the recipes that…

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