Did You Know You Could Grill...?
~Chef Perry Perkins~
Sure, we all enjoy grilling up a nice steak or some juicy burgers, but sometimes it's nice to branch out and try new things too, right?
There are heaps of delicious options you can throw over the fire...and they so seldom get a nod from your average backyard BBQ enthusiast. (But we're not average, are we?)
Let's take a look at a few fantastic options for your next grilling session, while that piggie is roasting to perfection in the magic box.
Grilling a tomato will change your life! Okay, that may be hyperbole…but it’s pretty freaking amazing.
Pluck one right from the garden, rinse, halve, and sprinkle with coarse salt, and grill (cut side down) for 3-4 minutes. Grilling caramelizes the sugars of the fruit, creating an insanely intense contrast with the tomato’s natural acidity.
You can give a whole new meaning to the term "grilled cheese" when you warm a big hunk of thick-rind cheese (I like Camembert, and Haloumi) over the coals.
Warm, smoky, and oozing deliciousness...there's just nothing better on a thick slice of rustic (and grilled) bread.
BTW, add a little bacon and from fresh slices of beefsteak tomato to your next cheese sandwich, and try that on the grill, too!
Known as Panzanella, this Tuscan salad of bread, tomatoes, onions, and basil, just get's better when you get some nice grill marks on both sides of that bread, first. Toss the grilled, cubed, bread with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a salad your guests won't forget! I like to add a variety of olives and some anchovies, as well, but that's just me.
Speaking of salad, lettuce is amazing, when lightly grilled! Romaine seems to work best for me. Chop and toss with some cherry tomatoes, grilled green onions, and a creamy buttermilk dressing.
Chef’s Note: Grill until the edges of the leaves are just very lightly charred, to keep the lettuce nice and crunchy.
I love sweet potatoes in all forms, but grilling after par-boiling, results in an even sweeter spud, as the exterior of th wedges caramelizes on the grill. Cook your potatoes until just softened in salted water, then grill. Toss the hot wedges with butter and scallions, and serve with grilled chicken or savory pork ribs.
As the old saying goes, "You can take the boy out of the South..." and all that. I grew up on fried green tomatoes, but this healthier flame-kisses version is equally amazing.
Cut your 'maters into thick slices, and char on both sides until just starting to soften. Mix up a simple basil-mayo for dipping!
Okay, I saved this one for last, for all the meat-heads (and I mean that lovingly), who stopped reading at "tofu". I love tofu...I just don't want it instead of meat! Cube some big hunks of extra-firm tofu, slathered in a tangy cilantro-garlic mayo.
Chef’s Note: Unlike meat, many of these ingredients are extremely fragile on the grill, and won’t tolerate the same level of man-handling that a thick chunk of beef will. This means it’s vital to make your grills as non-stick as possible.
The numero-uno technique for this, is to make sure your grates are as clean as possible. Crud makes things stick. That may not be sexy, but it’s a fact, jack!
A clean, well-oiled grill grate will give up the goods easily, and help produce a pretty product.
Sorry for the alliteration...it’s in my genes.
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com