July 6, 2016

5 Surprising Foods To Grill This Summer

Master the grill with food editor Kristen Eppich’s expert tips. 
House & Home Food Editor Kristen EppichKnowing how to control the heat on your barbecue is key to being a great griller — and will open up the doors to grilling just about anything. Whether you’re using charcoal or gas, here are my tips on heat control, and the delicious things you can make with your new skills.

Heat Control 101

Direct heat is intended for high-heat grilling, things that cook quickly or are mainly surface cooking opposed to internal cooking. This is the standard way of cooking on a barbecue.

Indirect heat is the equivalent of using your stove at a low heat, meant for longer, gentler, slower cooking. Here’s how to set up your grill for indirect cooking:

Charcoal: Place prepared coals along the outer edges of the charcoal grate or push charcoal holders (if your grill has them) to the sides leaving the center clear. If you are planning to cook something that may drip, place a drip pan in the exposed area of the grill. Place the cooking grate over coals and drip pan, and grill the food over the drip pan or empty space.

Gas: Preheat the grill with all burners on high. Once grill is hot, turn off or adjust the burner heat on one side of the BBQ until you reach the temperature indicated on the recipe. Burners directly under the food must be turned off.

Put Your New Grilling Skills To Use

Here are four foods that are surprisingly delicious when barbecued.

Avocado: If you’ve ever had warm avocado, you know it has a a velvety, luxurious texture. A quick grill adds some smoke to this and makes it decadent. Set up grill for direct heat grilling over high heat. Slice the avocado in half and remove pit and skin. Brush liberally with olive oil. When grill is very hot, place the avocado cut side down and grill for 2 minutes or until grill marks appear. Do not flip. Move to a plate, drizzle with olive oil and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice. Season well with salt and pepper and add some fresh cilantro. 

Bacon: In the winter I’m all about baking my bacon in the oven. In the summer, it goes on the grill. Set up your grill for indirect heat, getting the grill to a heat of about 400ºF. Place a drip pan under the side with no heat. Thread the bacon onto metal skewer or bamboo skewers that have been soaked overnight. Brush the bacon with oil to prevent sticking. Add bacon to the side of the grill that is turned off and grill for 3 minutes. Flip and continue grilling and flipping until bacon is cooked through and crisp.

Lemons: In the summer months, whenever I add lemons to a platter of food I make sure they’re grilled. Grilling lemons adds a touch of smoke and caramel to their flavor. I like to squeeze the grilled lemons over the platter of food or add one to each plate. Set up grill for direct heat grilling over medium-high heat. Slice lemons in half widthwise and pat dry. Brush cut side liberally with oil. Grill cut-side down for 3 minutes or until grill marks appear and lemons are juicy. Add to plate or platter and squeeze over food.

Eggplant: When you grill eggplant with its skin on, the flesh of the vegetable becomes tender and juicy and is great scooped out and stirred with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. It’s also a great way to prepare eggplant for baba ghanoush. To do this, set up your grill for indirect heat and get the grill to an oven temperature of 350-400ºF. Brush the eggplant with oil. Place on the grill, on the opposite side of the heat and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or until the eggplant appears deflated and the skin is charred. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Peel and scoop out the flesh.