Did you know your barbecue is good for way more than just meat? Sure, steak and burgers and chicken all taste divine when you add that smoky flavouring that only an open flame can bring, but there are also plenty of other dishes that can benefit from a good grilling. Below are just a few to get you started.
Eating oysters may be bliss, but shucking them definitely is not—which is why they’re better on the barbecue. The heat from the grill will cause the shells to naturally open up (note that they won’t pop open like clams or mussels, but rather will open just slightly enough to easily lift the shell). Place them on a grill heated to medium-high, cupped side down, for about two to five minutes (depending on their size). You’ll know they’re ready when they start to open (discard any that don’t). Be warned that some could explode, so keep your grill covered. Alternately, you can grill pre-shucked oysters; you’ll know they’re ready when the oysters start to puff up and curl on the sides.
Pizza is best when it’s cooked over an open flame. Admittedly, grilling a pizza takes much more work than relying on your oven, as you’ll need to move quickly. Using a pizza stone is a great way to get perfectly crispy pizza with a soft inside, and it is easy to use too. Preheat the grill with the stone on it over indirect heat. Use cornmeal to create a barrier between the dough and the stone, and grill for 5 to 10 minutes. Flip the dough and then spread the sauce and toppings. Grill for another 5 to 10 minutes—or until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and you have yourself the best grilled pizza ever. You can even grill right on the grids, just remember to rotate to ensure it’s evenly browned (don’t forget to oil the grill to avoid sticking), and once the base is ready, add the toppings. With a little patience, you’ll be rewarded with a crisp, smoky pie that will taste like it came from an old-fashioned pizzeria.
Yes, even your salad can go on the barbecue. Slice a head of romaine lettuce in half and grill it, cut-side down, for about a minute or until the lettuce just starts to blacken with grill marks. Do the same thing with a lemon for your garnish. After it’s been grilled, add dressing, parmesan and, for an extra hint of smoky flavour, a few crumbles of barbecued bacon.
Boiling may be the most common way to cook lobster, but there’s also grilling. And, after all, a grilled lobster tail is the perfect companion to a barbecued steak. Depending on your bravery level, you can kill the lobster by either submerging it in boiling water for a minute or by inserting a sharp knife into the cross mark on its back or between its eyes (as well, some recommend freezing the lobster beforehand to put it into a hibernation-like state). Either way, once your lobster is ready, toss it on a medium-hot grill for eight to ten minutes. Alternately, break off the claws and tail and cook in pieces. You’ll know it’s ready once the meat is firm and opaque, and the shell is bright red.
Bacon and eggs
There’s no reason to wait until noon to fry up the grill—even breakfast can go on the barbecue. Breakfast meats such as bacon and ham can be cooked easily enough on the grill, just as you would any other meat, but it’s the eggs that throw most people off. Instead of cooking eggs on the side hotplate (or indoors on the stove), use a muffin baking tray right on the grill. Grease each of the pockets, then crack and drop your eggs in. You’ll still get the smoky flavouring without having your eggs drip through the grill. For an extra special take on breakfast, line the muffin pockets with barbecued bacon or ham, then crack the eggs inside—your eggs will cook around the meat and become one, perfect for sandwiches.
Instead of deep-frying or baking your French fries, try throwing them on the grill; after all, they’re the perfect companion to barbecued treats like hamburgers and hot dogs. For the best grilled fries, partially cook the potatoes before throwing them on the grill (boil them for about 20 minutes), otherwise you’ll risk drying them out by trying to grill from raw. Also try cutting the potatoes into wedges rather than shoestrings, so that you can cook them directly on the grill rather than using a baking tray. Oil and season the wedges before grilling, then cook until crispy.
Give your guacamole a barbecue boost by using grilled avocados. Many people find these fruits to be a bit bland on their own, but grilling will bring them up a notch thanks. Slice in half, remove the pit, brush with lime juice and olive oil, then grill cut-side down for a few minutes. Alternately, add your grilled avocados to a salad (pair with tomatoes, onions, and even some protein such as shrimp), or serve sliced up on their own as a garnish.
Really, you grill any number of different fruits—apples, plantains, pineapple—but peaches often win out as the favourite barbecued dessert. There’s just something about peaches that is so quintessentially summer. For dessert, slice peaches in half and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of brown sugar or honey. Be sure to use just ripened or slightly under-ripe peaches—too ripe and you’ll have slippery peach goo melting through your grill. Place them on an oiled grill, cut-side down, for about four or five minutes and then flip them over for a few more minutes until they’re soft enough to easily poke with a fork. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
It sounds crazy, but yes, you can make grilled lemonade. The smokiness will give it a surprising twist on the standard sweet and tart flavour, and it pairs really well with bourbon if you want to turn your lemonade into a barbecue cocktail. Cut lemons in half and give them a sugar rub. Place them cut-side down on the grill for about two to four minutes, until the sugar caramelizes. Once the lemons have cooled, squeeze them into any lemonade recipe. For extra flavour, add a few sprigs of rosemary.