Grill to TableMan has cooked over an open fire since the dawn of time. But while most of us have spent many a weekend grilling whole fish filets and thick-cut chops to juicy perfection, the rest of our meals have tragically remained under the purview of the great indoors. With the warm weather nearly behind us, there’s more reason than ever to get out of the kitchen and behind the grill. So throw the coals on the fire and crack open a cold one, because we’re giving your meal – from easy apps to succulent sides to some truly decadent desserts – some time over those toasty coals … and we’re not even thinking about turning on the oven.
Once the grill is fired up, don’t settle for chips and dip to get your meal started. This dish begins with the classic Italian combination of mozzarella and prosciutto, inspired by a salad we enjoyed at I Fratellini recently. Toss in a simple, subtly sweet lemon vinaigrette and you have a light, fresh nod to the appetizer course.
4 Belgian endive heads, cut in half vertically
8 1½-oz. pieces fresh mozzarella
8 slices prosciutto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp. honey
• Prepare the grill.
• Slice off the bottom of the endive, cutting away the tough, woody part of the bottom but leaving enough of the base for the leaves to stay connected.
• Place one piece of mozzarella in the center of each endive half and wrap a slice of prosciutto around each endive.
• Drizzle with olive oil.
• Place each piece on the grill, cheese side down, for about 1 minute. Flip and leave them on the grill for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until they get a nice char.
• Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, honey and ¼ cup of olive oil. Set aside.
• Remove the endive from the grill.
• Drizzle the vinaigrette over the prosciutto-wrapped endive and serve.
Agave- and Balsamic-Soaked Fruit with Gorgonzola Flatbread
In this hearty app, soft flatbread hits the grill, creating a soft, smoky base for white balsamic-soaked fruit and pungent Gorgonzola. Tart yet tame, smooth, sour and just a touch bitter, this dish takes cheese and crackers to a tasty new level.
6 to 8 Servings
½ tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup amber agave nectar
1 large, firm Anjou pear, diced into ¼-inch cubes
1 cup dried cherries
¾ cup Gorgonzola crumbles
• Stir the yeast into 1 cup of warm (110- to 115-degree) water. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Pour into a large bowl and mix in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, salt and flour.
• Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s soft and smooth. (If the dough sticks to your hands while kneading, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it’s easier to work with.)
• Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
• If using a charcoal grill, light the hardwood briquettes while the dough is rising.
• Meanwhile, stir together the white balsamic vinegar and amber agave nectar.
• Add the pear and dried cherries to the vinegar mixture, tossing occasionally to coat. Allow the fruit to soak for 30 minutes. Drain.
• After the dough has doubled in size (approximately 1 hour), punch it down, then turn it onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for a few turns and divide it in half. Allow it to rest, covered, for 15 more minutes.
• If using a propane grill, heat it to medium-high during the second rise.
• Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls out into two long, thin slabs, approximately ¼-inch thick. Brush both sides of the dough lightly with vegetable oil, and brush your grill with vegetable oil as well.
• Place the dough on the hot grill, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until the flatbread is brown and slightly charred.
• Remove the bread from the heat and immediately sprinkle with Gorgonzola and marinated fruit. Slice and serve warm.
Grilled Waldorf Salad
A classic salad gets new life when the crisp romaine leaves and sweet apples get some time over the toasty coals. To top off that smoky flavor, sweet oranges and spicy Cajun seasoning make a far tastier, zippier dressing than the mayonnaise used in days gone by.
4 to 6 Servings
3 Granny Smith Apples, cored and cut into slices
Extra virgin olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce, cut in half vertically
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 celery stalk, chopped
½ cup seedless red grapes, cut in half
¹∕³ cup chopped walnuts
• Prepare the grill.
• Lightly brush both sides of the apple slices with oil.
• Drizzle oil on the romaine leaves.
• Place cut side of romaine and apple slices on the grill for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until you see char marks on the apples. Flip the apples and lettuce, and leave on the grill for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly charred. Remove from the grill.
• While the lettuce and apples cool, whisk together the next 6 ingredients to make the dressing.
• When the lettuce and apples are cool to the touch, chop them into bite-sized pieces and combine in a small bowl.
• Add the celery, grapes and walnuts to the bowl; toss with the dressing and serve.
Cheese Grits with Onion
When it comes to side dishes, it’s all about using flavors that satisfy but don’t overpower. First up, some good ‘ol Southern grits get just enough flavor from creamy Gruyère, sweet grilled onions and pungent horseradish. Tip: Be sure to whisk your grits halfway through the cooking process to avoid them becoming gummy. If this happens, just treat them like polenta: Cut the mixture into slices, brush on some oil, toss the slices onto a grill bakset and throw it on the grill – catastrophe averted.
6 to 8 Servings
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cup grits
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
½ stick butter
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
• Prepare the grill.
• Wrap onion and thyme in foil, drizzle with olive oil and seal the foil.
• Place the foil packs on the grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the packet is soft when you squeeze it with tongs.
• Remove the packets from the grill, take out the thyme sprigs and coarsely chop the onion.
• Meanwhile, mix the grits, chicken broth, water and butter in a disposable aluminum pan, or cast iron pan with a lid and stir well. Cover tightly, place on the grill and close the lid.
• After 15 minutes, remove the lid, stir in the cheese and re-cover. Put the grits back on the grill for 10 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
• Remove from the grill, stir in chopped onion and horseradish, and serve.
Made from quince and sugar, you’ll find a tasty little jar of quince paste in the jelly aisle. And while true bakers have earned the right to scoff at puff pastry, letting this staple do most of the work in this dish will leave you more time to sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of your toasty meal.
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, defrosted
½ cup, plus 1 Tbsp., quince paste
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp. whole milk
2 Tbsp. honey
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
• Heat the propane grill to medium indirect heat.
• Unfold the puff pastry sheet and cut into 9 equal squares.
• Place about 1 tablespoon quince paste in the center of each square.
• Rotating the square so that it looks like a diamond, fold the east and west points over each other, and pinch to seal.
• Brush the pastries with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar.
• Place the pastries so they don’t touch on an un-greased disposable aluminum pan. Place the pan on the side of the grill without flames. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
• Rotate the pan and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and flaky.
• Using a blender on medium-high speed, beat the milk and honey into the Mascarpone cheese.
• Serve each pastry with a dollop of whipped Mascarpone on the side.
Pineapples may be the international symbol for hospitality, but a cake baked in one is more than gracious – it’s delicious. In this tasty take on dessert, the batter absorbs a bit of the pineapple juice as it cooks, creating a moist, airy confection.
6 fresh whole pineapples
3¼ cups, plus 2 Tbsp., all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 pinches salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups sour cream
2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp. golden brown sugar, packed
• Light the hardwood briquettes.
• Remove and discard the leafy crowns of the pineapples. Cut off and reserve the pineapple tops. Using a pineapple slicer, remove the fruit, core and juice from the husk. Reserve pineapple slices in the juice; discard core. Blot inside of the husks with a paper towel to remove excess juice. Set aside.
• Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
• In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla.
• Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing as you go until there are no lumps.
• Spoon 1 cup of batter into each husk. Cover with pineapple tops.
• Wrap the husks in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Dump coals into a pile and nestle pineapples among the coals. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Use tongs to rotate the pineapples occasionally to prevent the husks from burning.
• Remove the pineapples from the grill and let stand in the aluminum foil for 10 minutes.
• Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream and brown sugar until soft peaks form.
• Remove the pineapple tops and serve cake in the husks, with whipped cream and pineapple slices as garnish.