Grilling….not just for meat anymore?

Baseball’s opening day, to me, means that I can light the grill on a more consistent basis although I will admit standing in the snow after finding inspiration from surfing the James Beard website late at night.  Grilling and BBQ, as red blooded American male, has meant meat to me until I became obsessed a few years ago with Argentinian chef Francis Mallmann and his book The Seven Fires.  The seven fires referenced are the seven techniques he utilizes to cook over wood.
•    Parilla: A cast iron barbecue grate set over hot coals. Hibachis and kettle grills are examples
•    Caldero: A large cast iron kettle or Dutch oven
•    Chapa: A flat piece of cast iron set over a fire. Similar to a griddle
•    Infiernillo: Two fires with a cooking level between them. Literally translated to “small inferno.”
•    Horno de Barro: A wood-fired oven
•    Rescoldo: A method of cooking by covering the ingredients with hot embers and warm ashes
•    Asador: A method of cooking whole animals, typically pig, goat, and lamb, which are butterflied and fastened with wires to an iron cross with two cross pieces.
Chef Mallmann’s fascination with fire and the tastes you can coax out of an ingredient is inspirational.  His approach opens your eyes to the cultural influences of cooking over open flames as well as cooking things other than meat. So as we go from wearing a coat, grilling and convincing ourselves that it will soon be warm to being barefoot in shorts I’ve thought about what else I might be tossing on the grill this summer.

I admit it, the thought of putting an avocado on the grill makes me go bonkers. The truth is, you end up with a smoky butter, which happens to make the best guacamole ever. Throwing fresh cut limes, lemons, oranges & grapefruit on the grill results in better vinaigrettes, marinades, fish and cocktails. Speaking of cocktails, tequila’s BFF is charred jalapenos. Pizzas and flatbreads are enhanced with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a grill. Firm, salty cheeses (like halloumi) benefit from grilling, it creates a smoky mellow effect. Grilling kale makes it crispy, pairing it with sweet fruit and a creamy cheese transforms it into a great salad. Bitter greens like radicchio taste great with a little char.  The most ridiculous thing on the grill is grapes.  Throw the whole bunch on with a little grapeseed oil and let it blister for 10-15 minutes. They are juicy and delicious.

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Posted on May 2nd, 2016 at 11:18 am [ssba]