My least favorite part of the rainy season is cooking dinner while holding an umbrella. That’s how die-hard I am about grilling: I don’t let something as silly as bad weather stop me. We’ve been known to put some pretty wacky items on the ‘cue at my house in an effort to cook a whole meal outside to avoid heating up the oven or scrubbing a pile of pots and pans. Here are a few of my more successful experiments and a tip or two to guarantee success.
These are fantastic when you’re slowly grilling a large piece of meat over indirect heat. Wrap the beets in foil with a few tablespoons of water for some steam and then let them roast until tender to the core. Have a more lively fire going? Slice them and set them directly on the cooler part of the grill for plenty of tender, lightly charred sweetness.
Warm bread is a welcome addition to any meal, which is why we put it on the grill at the last minute. From sliced ciabatta or whole pita breads warmed on the grill before serving to raw pizza dough we stretch into flat bread and cook directly on the grate, there’s no limit to what you can whip up in your makeshift outdoor oven.
Keep the heat low and turn carrots often to make sure they’re tender before they get too dark. Larger carrots can be cut diagonally to help them cook a bit faster and more evenly.
Grilling doesn’t end when you hit the last course. Brush slices of pound cake with melted butter and grill until toasted. Serve with a few wedges of lovely stone fruit (grill-worthy, too, see number 10!) and softened ice cream. If you’re feeling creative, throw a cast-iron skillet filled with sweetened fruit and topped with granola on the fire while you’re eating the main course. Cook until bubbling. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you’ll have truly saved the best for last.
5. GREEN BEANS
Skinny beans have a tendency to slip between the grates, but a bit of effort is worth it for the nutty flavor these get on the grill. Using a grill basket works great if you have one, otherwise, make sure you turn them perpendicular to the grates and barely move them. They only need a few minutes of heat to get them to the yummy tender-crunch stage.
READ MORE > GRILLED BACON-WRAPPED GREEN BEANS
Think okra is slimy? You haven’t tried it grilled. Like green beans, set these on the grill perpendicular to the grate to keep them from falling through. Cook until tender and browned, 8–10 minutes over a medium-high flame.
7. PEARS AND APPLES
Like a poached or baked version, but even more delicious, brush halved fruits with melted butter and set over a medium flame until tender. Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar if you like.
There’s really no limit on the ways to cook a spud on the grill. We’ve left them whole, cut them in half and sliced them into thick wedges like steak fries. Use plenty of oil to keep them from sticking and moderate the heat to ensure they’re tender before they’re burnt and you’ll be ready for whatever sauce you’re serving them with.
Yep, whole sandwiches. We love to assemble sandwiches, brush the bread with a bit of oil and pop it on the grill for a few minutes. Use toothpicks to hold all the good stuff in place, if needed. The cheese melts, the bread toasts and the whole thing is pretty amazing.
READ MORE > GRILLED ZUCCHINI CORN SALAD
10. STONE FRUIT
Plums, apricots and peaches are all heavenly after a few minutes set on a hot grill. The cooking time totally depends on the ripeness, but in general, a brush of oil to prevent sticking and minute or two is all you need. Serve as a lovely addition to any pork chop or tri-tip.
From thick slices of beefsteaks brushed with oil to cherry tomatoes slid onto a skewer, tomatoes don’t need long on the grill. Look for the flesh to soften just slightly and a bit of color on the skin and they’re done.