It’s Race Day and you’re ready for the third turn. You’ve got binoculars, sunscreen, a hat, a seat cushion – and, of course, food and libations to last the day. You could pick up those ever-popular prepared box lunches of fried chicken, chips and baked beans, but why ditch your commitment to local, wholesome food just because you’re going to the Indy 500?

Chef JJ Boston of Chef JJ’s Back Yard, a grilling destination and Big Green Egg retailer in Broad Ripple, has found a fresh take on the traditional fried fare. Like all the food he serves, Boston’s box lunch is locally sourced and artfully prepared with the aid of the Big Green Egg, an all-in-one grill, smoker and oven. Yes, right down to the buns and cookies.

But most of his box lunch recipes easily translate to any grill or oven.

This lighter version of conventional grab-and-go food doesn’t scrimp on flavor. In a twist on the classic breaded pork tenderloin, Chef JJ takes a Gunthorp Farms tenderloin and smokes it in the Egg. The potato salad features bacon and vinegar for a tangy-sweet flair.

The cured meat and mayo-free potato salad is shelf-stable, making for a safer race day lunch as the mercury climbs. But taste alone is enough to sell it as an inviting alternative to the usual fare.

While cookies baked to perfection on the grill might take Andretti-level skill, countless rookies have mastered the art of the barbecue from Boston.

As a Big Green Egg dealer, Boston has shaped Chef JJ’s Back Yard into a destination for grilling enthusiasts. It offers classes and events, and sells grilling accessories and chef supplies, all in an indoor-outdoor space that feels like home.

Big Green Egg devotees – known as Eggheads – like Boston use the grill year round. Whether you’re an Egghead or a Weber-and-briquettes kind of cook, fresh ingredients are a must.

“No grill will make food taste good if it’s not good food,” he says.

He advises clients to patronize farmers’ markets and get on a first-name basis with their butcher – and consider growing some produce of their own. He and his staff walk the talk: Pastry chef Jenna Gatchell’s baking needs are found at nearby Good Earth Natural Foods, while eight vegetable beds – planted by his wife, Sarah, at their south side home – provide much of the produce for Back Yard events. Gunthorp Farms in Lagrange and Moody Meats and Smoking Goose in Indianapolis are preferred sources for meat.

But how do you get that meat done without drying it out? Brining, curing or marinating is the answer. Chef JJ also says to abolish the fear of serving undercooked meat. It’s a worry that has led to many a chewy steak. “I always tell my clients, it’s really easy to take a piece of undercooked anything and put it back on the grill and cook it some more. But you can’t uncook anything.”

As far as equipment, Boston notes the importance of cleaning out a seasonally used grill before that first lap around the track this spring. Of course, he adds, “If you have an Egg you’ve probably been using it all winter long.”

Chef JJSara Crawford

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