The Other Side of Grilling

by A Manly Guest Contributor on June 2, 2010 · 30 comments

in Cooking, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

Image from Eudaemonius

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Matt Moore.

The afternoon sun pounding down your back, smells of fresh cut grass and charred meats in the air, a cold beer in one hand and a spatula in the other. At last . . . summer grilling season has arrived. I’m convinced that one of life’s most primal experiences is standing over raw meat and an open flame.

In my family, when it comes to cooking, mom has always been somewhat of a miracle worker. Her ‘kitchen space’ is her own world, and if you have any hope in getting one of her famous meals, you’d best stay out of her kitchen. The grill, however, is always dad’s domain. Rain or shine, dad tends the flames. As men, it’s in our nature to take charge of the fire.

Let’s get one thing clear. There is a fine line between grilling and BBQ’ing. As a Southerner, I fall into a pretty passionate culture regarding these two distinctions. For those raised in the South, grilling out typically refers to cooking items over direct heat on a grill, ex. grilled steaks, chicken, hamburgers, etc. BBQ is a whole different ballgame. It’s a lifestyle of love, patience, smoke, and mystery. Ask ten men on how to smoke a pork shoulder and you are likely to get ten independent, and fiercely debated, methods. With that said, I’m not here to cause friction.

Instead, I’d like to let you in on a little known fact regarding grilling. Most of you are probably not grilling enough. There, I said it.

Your grill is truly the beast of all your culinary appliances. With the proper technique and know-how, you can utilize your grill as a stove, broiler, oven, and smoker; all-in-one. By harnessing all of the grill’s power, you are able to expand well beyond foods typically considered traditional for the grill. In other words, it’s time to get creative and think outside the burger box.

I’ve outlined a great summer meal that ups the ante on traditional cookout fare. Anybody can grill a hamburger or a hot dog. Stand out amongst the crowd by offering up these items the next time you entertain. Your guests will be impressed that you had them over.

Get outside, tend the flames, crack open a cold beer, and get to work!

Definitions and Methods

In order to maximize your results, it’s good to understand a few basic terms and methods. Most grilling recipes will always state whether items should be cooked over direct or indirect heat. Whether you are using gas or charcoal, it’s a good idea to set up different “hot points” over the grate. Essentially, you will want to maximize your grilling space based on the items you are cooking. If you are cooking several steaks, you will want the entire surface to be scorching hot. However, if you are also going to be preparing some grilled vegetables, you will want part of the grill devoted to lower heat. As most gas-burning grills contain separate burners, this is fairly easy to control. When working with charcoal, however, you will want to create piles of different height and density to get varying temperature zones. Formal definitions and setups follow for getting the most out of your grill.

  • Direct Heat – to cook by direct exposure to the heat source
  • In-Direct Heat – to cook by offsetting the heat source from the food
  • Stovetop – place a sauté pan or skillet directly on the grate over direct heat
  • Broiler – place items on the grate over direct heat
  • Oven – place items over indirect heat with the lid closed
  • Smoker – place items over indirect heat with the lid closed. Soaked wood chips can be used on the coals to enhance smoke flavor.

The Meal

Grilled Caesar Salad - Be adventurous and give the homemade dressing a try. If you are cramped for time, this whole salad can be simplified with store-bought croutons and dressing. Grilling the hearts of romaine lettuce will create a nice smoky flavor, while also creating a warm contrast to the cool, crisp layers of the rest of the salad.

Dressing

2 Cloves Garlic, minced fine

2 Anchovy Filets, minced fine

¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 Egg

1 Lemon, juiced

1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar

¼ Cup Finely Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

On a cutting board, combine the minced garlic, anchovies, and kosher salt. Using a chef’s knife, work ingredients into a paste on the board. Combine paste, egg, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar into a large mixing bowl or food processor and mix vigorously for at least one minute, until mixture is smooth and almost beige in color. Add cheese and pepper and mix for another 30 seconds. Continue to whisk/mix vigorously and slowly stream in olive oil at the same time, to combine, or emulsify. Serve, or keep the dressing in the refrigerator until ready, up to 2 days.

Salad

½ Small French Baguette, cut into bite sized cubes

4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Kosher Salt

Fresh Cracked Pepper

1 Heart of Romaine Lettuce, sliced lengthwise

2 oz Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Directions-Preheat grill over medium high. In a sauté pan, lay out the French bread cubes in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the bread cubes to coat evenly with the oil and place over direct heat on the grill. Sauté croutons 5 – 7 minutes, shaking on occasion, until cubes are crisp and browned. Set croutons aside and allow to cool. Next, add the hearts of romaine, cut side down and grill for 45 – 90 seconds, or until nice grill marks appear. Immediately remove from grill and place each half on a serving plate, grilled side facing up. Top with croutons, cheese, and dressing. Serve immediately.

Grilled Pizza with Italian Sausage, Black Olives, Red Onion, and Feta CheesePizza on the grill? Absolutely. Most conventional ovens do not get hot enough to replicate the crispy crusts you crave at your favorite pizzeria. Have no fear. By utilizing the high heat of the grill, you can make that perfect crust time and again in the comfort of your very own home. The following recipe is one of my favorites; however, feel free to use the basic format of this recipe for any of your beloved pizza combinations. From the classic vegetarian friendly Margherita Pizza (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil) to a meat lover’s paradise, this method remains versatile and consistent. No matter what, always make sure any raw ingredients are cooked prior to arrangement on the pizza.


½ lb Mild Italian Sausage, casings removed
16 oz Fresh or Store-Bought Pizza Dough
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Tomato Sauce
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, grated
¼ Cup Black Olives, sliced
¼ Cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Feta Cheese, crumbled

Heat one side of the grill to medium high; if using charcoal place coals on one side only. In a skillet over direct heat on the grill, brown sausage for 7 – 9 minutes; drain excess fat and set aside. Follow instructions on dough package to allow sufficient time for the dough to rise if needed. Drizzle the olive oil on a non-stick baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough ball in half and roll each half in the oil to coat. Using your hands, roughly work the dough into two equal shapes of your preference, about 8-10 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Make sure the thickness is consistent throughout. Using a paper towel dipped in olive oil, quickly brush the entire grill grate to create a non-stick surface. Carefully place each portion directly over the hot surface of the grill, catching any edges using tongs. After roughly 1 minute, the top of the dough will become puffy and the underside will stiffen, leaving nice grill marks. Immediately flip each portion using tongs and place on the cool side of the grill. Spread an even layer of the tomato sauce on top of each portion, leaving the edges clean to create a crust. Next, top each portion with mozzarella cheese. Working quickly, spread an even layer of the sausage, black olives, red onion, and feta cheese on top of each pizza. Move dough back towards the heat, but not completely over direct heat. Using tongs, continue to rotate each pizza every 45-60 seconds, careful not to burn, to ensure each section receives high heat. Continue for 6-8 minutes covering the grill from time to time, until the top is bubbly and the cheese has melted. Cut each pizza into quarters and serve immediately.

Grilled Peach and Blueberry Cobbler – Fruits are absolutely fantastic on the grill. The heat brings out their natural sweetness, allowing the sugars to caramelize while on the hot grate. You can prep this dessert in advance, and then ‘bake’ it on the grill while your guests are enjoying their entrée.

4 Ripe Peaches, cut in half and pitted
1 Cup Ripe Blueberries
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
6 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
¼ Cup Cinnamon Granola
Vanilla Ice Cream, if desired

Heat one side of the grill to medium high; if using charcoal place coals on one side only. Add peaches, cut side down, over direct heat and grill 3 – 4 minutes, or until browned. Remove from grill, cut into wedges, and place into a small oven-safe baking dish. Add the next 4 ingredients and toss until combined. Top the mixture with the granola and place the dish on the grill over indirect heat. Bake until the granola is golden brown and crisp, about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve alongside scoops of vanilla ice cream.

For more great recipes from Matt, check out the Have Her Over for Dinner website and book.

What are some different things you like to throw on the grill? Share you recipes and grilling tips in the comments!

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ted June 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Good article. I’m fortunate enough to live in Florida where we have spring and summer year-round which means I get to grill year-round. I’ll be trying the salad and cobbler. I enjoy grilling pizza – quick and easy. I like grill 2 – 3 times a week. Since my wife is pregnant, she’s been… let’s say, not as helpful, around the house (understandably), so grilling really helps with dishes for me… minimal!

Is there an AoM cookbook, or has there been talk of creating any? I’ve come up with several grilling favorites of mine over the years and would love to share – most being easy, quick or fairly quick, and, of course, tasty – that I’d love to share.

2 Alex Cavnar June 2, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Awesome article. I would have never thought of grilling a pizza! I’m going to try this, now… We have a good Italian market nearby that makes their own salamis and prosciutto. I’m DEFINITELY throwing those on the grill!

As a side note… can we do something about the “Share” sidebar links? It covers up the article on my machine. I have to run at 1024×768…

3 Michael June 2, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Good article, although I’m of two minds as to its manliness (goat cheese pizza and a cobbler might be seen by some as a waste of good coals, although I could easily see myself making – and consuming – both).

I just co-hosted the first grill party of the year, and it was pretty old-school: a pit at a park. My participation consisted of cayenne-rubbing some grass-fed beef (good, and good for you) and keeping people from messing with the coals (why does some fool insist on blowing on them?). I finally had the forethought to dry the beef in the fridge (on a plate, paper towel on top) beforehand, and it definitely took the flavor to another level.

Ted, there used to be an AoM cookbook they were giving away free – there might still be a link to it somewhere.

4 Kevin June 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

majorly agree with two of the comments:
1. We need an AoM cookbook
2. We need to get rid of the social networking junk on the side. it’s really annoying.

5 Brett McKay June 3, 2010 at 12:13 am

The social media thing was something I was testing out in hopes of getting readers to share our stuff more often and thus introduce new people to AoM. It’s supposed to appear just in the sidebar, but seems to be acting squirrely and floating on the text. So I’ve taken it down.

If anyone would like a copy of the AoM Cookbook, contact me and I’ll email it to you.

6 Living with Balls June 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

Good article. I never thought of grilling pizza before either. I may have to try it.

7 Todd June 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

Just a tip on the Caesar Salad dressing recipe: due to the fact that the dressing is uncooked, there is a bit of risk in consuming raw egg as called for in the recipe. To remedy this, you can “coddle” the egg by boiling it for exactly one minute. This heats the egg enough to kill bacteria but not enough to cook it through.
Also, if you can’t afford a $20 block of Parmigiano Reggiano, plain old parmesan or a cheaper variant will work just fine.

8 Greg June 3, 2010 at 11:41 am

Excellent article. I am somewhat of a pizza aficionado, and my pizza-on-the-grill method differs slightly. I use a pizza stone, and make the pizza in a traditional fashion; stretched dough, toppings of choice, all done on a peel (the giant wooden “spatula” used to move pizzas in and out of the ovens at your favorite pizzeria.) Here’s what I do: heat the grill on high to get it as hot as you can – mine gets up to almost 600 degrees. The stone must be heated – put it in the grill about 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to cook. I elevate the stone on a couple bricks, this seems to help with cooking the top of the pizza by getting closer to the dome of the lid where it’s hottest. Once the stone is hot, slide the pizza onto it and close the lid quickly to keep the heat. I check it after 60-90 seconds. If the grill is up over 500 degrees and the stone is hot enough, the pizza will only take 2-3 minutes to cook. With this method the pizza comes out with an authentic taste and look that will make your family proclaim it the best pizza they ever tasted!

9 Ted June 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

Welp, I haven’t seen the cookbook, but I just sent an email, Brett. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in it.

I wish I could have contributed. If there’s ever talk of a AoM Cookbook Part II, let me know! Maybe a grilling edition?
Thanks.

10 Nathaniel Sc. Bendel June 3, 2010 at 11:46 am

Something I enjoy throwing on the grill when I’m doing steaks or tri tip is asparagus. Coat them lightly in olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. This is especially good if you’re using wood chips to add a little flavor to the meat because it also infuses the asparagus. I use indirect heat but that’s not to say you couldn’t use a low direct heat as long as you kept an eye on them.

Also, baked potatoes. Again, lightly coat in olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, but this time, wrap the potato in foil. For this I use direct heat.

11 Josh June 3, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Grilled veggies are my personal favorite. I have a stainless steel basket that I place on the “anti-gravity” rack and add any type of vegetable that has been tossed in light balsamic vinaigrette. My personal faves are any color or pepper, whole mushrooms and onions, but you can do squash and really pretty much anything.

Keep it on the top rack and stir occasionally as you grill the rest. This is much eaiser then the treacherous kabob, meat goes so much slower then the veggies. But on the rack in the basket they cook just as long as whatever meat you have going.

Guaranteed best veggies ever.

12 Ernie Martsching June 3, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Very nice article. Also, can you send me the cookbook? I have a few recipes if you’re interested in an AoM Cookbook II. Some smoked salmon recipes, smoked halibut, etc.

13 Nick Lowery June 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I love grilling but sadly don’t have a grill, oftentimes though I find myself at a friends house with the owner of the house struggling with grilling and am glad to take over for them. Thanks for these awesome tips to add to my repertoire. (Living in Washington state, most people don’t expect much from grilling, maybe I can make the art a more popular one).

14 Matt Moore June 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm

@Nick, I would suggest picking up a heavy duty cast iron grill pan for use on your stove top. Lodge Cast Iron out of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee is a great manufacturer of these products. You can utilize the grill pan over high heat on the stove to create perfect grill marks and flavor. For thicker cuts of meat that require more cooking time, finish them off in your oven (similar to indirect heat, closed lid, on the grill). Be advised that you will want to make sure you have plenty of ventilation for any smoke that is common with this method of indoor grilling. Enjoy!

MM

15 D Taylor June 4, 2010 at 9:51 am

Nothing better than a grilled pizza! I started grilling pizza last summer and friends and family will not let me quit. I recommend using a pizza stone with the grill so that your crust is evenly cooked. The stone has to be well heated before use. To keep from wasting propane, I will heat the stone in the oven for about an hour then transfer to the grill. I typically grill my toppings (meat and veggies) in a grill basket first and then bring out the dough and assemble. Also recommend hickory chips while the pizza cooks as it gives a nice wood fire flavor.

16 Michael Carper June 4, 2010 at 11:27 am

Beyond charcoal briquettes, there’s those of us who grill like real men – on a grate over the hot ashes of a fire.

But seriously, good article.

17 Jim June 5, 2010 at 7:31 am

As Michael states above. Grilling can truly only be done with real wood charcoal or real wood. If you choose to grill, high heat is the way to properly grill food. Respect the food. If the hair on your arms is not singed it is not hot enough. Lighter Fluid is for armatures.

18 Larry June 5, 2010 at 9:49 am

We dont bother with grills.. we have a fire pit, a grate,if it cant be skewered. and a shed full of wood. we cook like this every night.

19 Dave June 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

In my opinion, the best grilling experience is with my Traeger grill. It can get hot enough to grill, but cooks with indirect heat and smokes as well. The flavors that can be added based on the wood type and length of time smoking has opened a whole new arena to my grilling and BBQ experience. If you have not tried one you are missing out. it is truly an amazing tool.

20 Tyrone Lindley June 6, 2010 at 12:27 am

Great article! I recently wrote about using a barbecue as an oven for a rustic pie, and a cooktop for cooking pancakes outdoors. Barbecue’s are the manly way to cook stuff.

21 Brian L June 7, 2010 at 5:35 am

I’ve been grilling a lot of fruit lately. Fresh or canned, pineapple slices or peaches are great grilled and can be used to top hamburgers or as a dessert with whipped cream.

Can I get a copy of the cookbook too?

22 Kevin June 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Grilled Duck Roll ups
2-4 duck or goose breasts (if they are quite large, cut them lengthwise)
Jalapeno peppers
Cheddar cheese

Cut the jalapeno peppers lengthwise and remove the veins and seeds. Stuff the pepper halves with cheese. Roll the stuffed peppers up inside the duck breasts, insert a tooth pick to hold it together and cover in aluminum foil. Place duck breasts on indirect heat and grill for 15 to 20 minutes while drinking your favorite beer.

23 Chris June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Sounds to me like you need to put a link to the cookbook. Please send me a copy of it, if you wouldn’t mind.

Thanks!

24 chris June 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I have to agree with Josh that grilling veggies are often my favorite part of a grilled meal. Asparagus, corn on the cob (with husks removed), peppers, onions, zucchini, brussels sprouts, you name it. My favorite, though, was some bok choy….holy cow it was good.

I’ve found that veggies often take longer than the meat, so I usually do them all first, then throw down my meat. The veggies taste great after they cool a bit, too, and I can make a whole grill full, then chop leftovers up into salads or pasta the next day. Looks and tastes gourmet, but it’s really just leftovers.

25 Ryan June 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Wow! Grilling a pizza, that’s brilliant! I bet you’d get something similar to the old fashioned wood fired oven pizza that we pay out the nose for.

26 Everett Barrett June 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm

I enjoyed your article and used your recipe for the grilled pizza last night. It was terrific!

Thanks

27 M.T. Amerson June 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Here’s a tip for outdoor grilling: Take it easy on the lighter fluid! My next door neighbor fired up his grill the other day and must have used a whole bottle of the stuff. We were inside the house gagging on the scent of it, it was that strong. When he finally threw the meat on the grill it smelled like a mix of grilled meat and lighter fluid. That had to be the worst tasting steak, because you know it was infused with lighter fluid flavor!

28 Martineź June 19, 2010 at 1:13 am

I cracked up after seeing the header image; The Cookout Champion was one of the cookbooks featured on The Gallery of Regrettable Foods. http://bit.ly/x1whs

I just grilled strawberries the other day for fun, so the cobbler recipe looks right up my alley.

29 Tom June 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

I would appreciate a copy of the book also.

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