12 Things You Never Thought to Grill
Grilling is just the application of heat and flame to food. There are certain “grilling foods” that are well known for the kind of bold flavors and savory spices that they pair well with. But for the expert grillers who are ready to apply heat and flame to more than just meat and bell peppers, there are lots of other avenues of grilling to be explored.
Grab your new favorite grill torch and start cooking. Here are 12 things you never thought to grill, but you should definitely try to master
My son once bragged to all his friends at school that I could grill anything (and I would like to argue that he isn’t wrong). Somehow, this turned into a challenge… and so, the grilled banana was born.
Remember that bananas, for all the strings and fibres, are still similar to the consistency of other fruits and vegetables.
Grilled banana calls for a short time on really high heat. You don’t want to toss the banana on the grill until things are really hot. The best way to cook a banana over the grill is to cut it into chunks and put these chunks straight across on a skewer. Alternatively, you can put whole bananas on a skewer sideways.
The perfect sweet companion to the savory beef brisket is some tender, grilled mango. The key to making great grilled mango is to get a mango that is not too ripe. If the mango is already kind of mushy, adding any heat to the mixture will destroy the texture of the fruit. Instead of getting a perfectly grilled mango, you’ll end up with a puddle of warm fruit. If the mango is barely ripe, then you have a lot stronger of a consistency to apply char marks to without destroying the fruit.
Pineapple is a great grilling fruit because it has strong fibres inside that allow it to glaze and char properly without turning into mush. The secret to great pineapple on the grill is to not overcook it, and to use a little bit of brown sugar (not much) on the fruit to get it to glaze and caramelize without turning mushy.
You can take chunks of pineapple that are refrigerated and stick them on skewers, or you can take a whole pineapple and cut it into thin discs. You can even grill a pineapple with the skin still around it!
Grilling a donut will crisp it up and caramelize the sugar just enough to give it a more savory flavor, taking the edge off of the sweetness just enough to make it tasty in a new way. You can do a lot with donuts on the grill. You can grill them whole and serve them as a dessert (the best donuts for this are plain glaze, not cake). Alternatively, you can cut them in half and then serve them as a sandwich with some grilled chicken or bacon in between. Grilled chicken and grilled donut is a great creative take on the same basic flavor profile as fried chicken and waffles!
Need some extra creativity? Check out these creative donut ideas.
5. Jalapeno Poppers
Starting just a bit below the stem, slice one side of the jalapeno all the way down and open up the flesh. Remove the seeds and fibres from the inside. Note that you may want to use gloves for this process, as having jalapeno oil on your hands can be really painful and tough to get off!
After pitting the jalapenos, you’ll fill them with a bit of a cream cheese mixture and then toss them in some breadcrumbs to get the classic pop. Finally, wrap the jalapenos in strips of bacon.
The key to keeping the bacon in place around the jalapeno is to use a toothpick, but that won’t necessarily work as well on the grill, because toothpicks might melt or catch fire over the open flame. The best way to do it on a grill is to stick skewers that are metal all the way through a number of poppers at the same time. Then, to serve, you can use toothpicks.
Almost everything that you might associate with a standard issue charcuterie board. If you have a sturdy cheese that melts quickly, like brie, you can sear it quickly on the grill with the skin still on to give it a melty, creamy texture. Toss a bunch of grapes on for a flash to soften them up and char the edges.
7. Thin Crust Pizza
While you probably don’t have a brick pizza oven inside your home, your charcoal grill can be a great way to fire roast some pizza. Keep the ingredients simple that way the flavor can really come out of the bread and toasted cheese. Artichokes and simple meats are things that can really capitalize on the heat and smoke that the grill will provide. Our friends at Pizza Porta have some great tools to help you when firing up some ‘za.
With sturdy tortillas and oh-so-meltable cheese, quesadillas were basically built to be tossed over the grill and seared until gooey perfection. Plus, when grilling quesadillas, you can load them up with lots of great vegetables. If you want the veggies to grill before they go into the quesadilla, toss some bell peppers and onion onto a skewer before dropping them into the quesadilla. Leftover Pulled Pork is incredible in quesadillas as well — we always fire these up the day after smoked pork butts while camping with friends and family.
Peaches are a bit tricky, but when done right, take on the consistency of a tasty peach cobbler. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. Then dust them with a bit of sugar or brown sugar on the underside and toss them onto the grill, flesh down and skin up. It should only take a couple of minutes for them to sink into the grill and get lovely sear marks. Just like mango, you should use peaches that are ripe but not super ripe.
The best way to grill watermelon is to cut it into wedges and then dust those wedges with a little bit of lime juice and chili powder and salt. The sweet, savory, spicy combination of the watermelon with the spices and juice will combine perfectly overheat and you can serve warm. Alternatively, grill for just a couple of minutes and toss the watermelon that is grilled back over ice to get a fire toasted but chilled consistency.
You’ve got a couple of options for cooking the avocado. The first is that you can halve and pit the avocado like normal, scooping the flesh out and putting the halves of avocado inside foil and then cooking them with a little bit of salt and pepper. A better technique, but slightly more tricky, is to leave the skin on. Halve the avocado and pit it like normal, but leave the flesh in the skin. Then grill the avocado for just a few minutes on each side to get a smokey, charred flavor. (I like to put a little olive or avocado oil on them so they don’t stick to the cooking grate.)
Avocado is super tender and can fall apart when cooked and turned to mush if you aren’t careful. Make sure you get a good pair of gloves so that you can handle the avocado well.
This is a great idea for tailgate grilling, because you’re giving everyone some unexpected treats! (This makes for some awesome guacamole with just a hint of smokey goodness as well, and it can be prepared ahead of time for tailgating)
12. Avocado Toast
Even the most creative avocado toast can be made a little bit better by tossing it on the grill. The bread, instead of having a warm and firm texture, will change to a bit of a charred and smokey consistency. You get more crumbs and more crunch, which will pair nicely with the smooth texture of the avocado