Bloomberg Pursuits “accidentally” disrupted Independence Day by announcing that burgers should not be grilled. That advice came from three different notable chefs (four if you count our previous Do Not Grill List) who argued that grillers were losing valuable fat and juices to the flames, while also sacrificing the kind of caramelized crust that comes from contact with a searingly hot, flat surface like a griddle or plancha.
The blowback was fierce. How dare we challenge the all-American cookout?
Amid all the feedback, it seemed we neglected to tell home cooks, standing spatula-in-hand, what would be OK to throw on the grates. So we searched for foods that you might not realize are actually great cooked over a hot fire. Not T-bones and rib-eye, or asparagus or citrus or skin-on, bone-in chicken—but thick-cut bologna for a smoky sandwich and crisp cucumber for a novel side.
“Halve an avocado, grill it flesh side down in its skin.” The hit of smoke amplifies its flavor; and the heat, its creaminess. “Afterwards let it return to room temp, scoop it out, and use as an accompaniment to grilled meat or seafood.
“When I was little, all I wanted was my bologna sandwich on white bread. Now that I am older, I get to make my own rules, and I grill my bologna—half-inch thick slices on the lit side of the grill until grill marks appear. To make it even better, move the bologna to the unlit side of the grill, cover, and smoke for 10 minutes, preferably over wood chips. You’ll never go back to having bologna not on the grill. Extra thick white bread for the win.”
“Grilling seafood is nothing new, but there are some ingredients where the flavor and texture is truly maximized when grilled, like king crab leg. Put it on shell-on, raw over hot coals, just until the flesh turns a solid white and serve it with really good olive oil and sea salt.”
“Cucumbers often get typecast as a cold, raw salad ingredient. Show their versatility by throwing them on the grill next to your steaks or whole fish. Slice a couple of Kirby cucumbers .-inch thick, toss them in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and grill them over ripping hot coals. They cook quickly and make a great side vegetable, garnished with fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, mint. It’s like tasting a cucumber for the first time.”
“A broad and wide cut of meat with a large surface area and a little bit of fat, like pork tenderloin, is best on the grill—it comes out juicier and more tender than people might think. And it does not have to be cooked well-done.
“Literally no dishes. Maybe some sourdough bread slices. Soak the clams when you get home, then straight on the grill. When they pop open, pull them out with a fork, dip in the handy pot of butter you have also melted on the grill.
“One of the biggest complaints about cooking fish on the grill is that it doesn’t have enough fat and it dries out. Whole fish—like a 1- to 2-pound sea bass, red snapper, or trout—solves this problem with internal self-basting, which keeps it moist and makes it much harder to overcook. Also you get that smoky flavor and wonderfully seasoned, crispy skin that only a grill provides.
Brittany Samuels SLN Reporter