As summer temperatures climb across the country, home cooks are stepping outside and firing up the grill. Today’s grills are more versatile than ever before, and amateur grillers around the country are taking notice. Gas and charcoal grills can do much more than just burgers and hot dogs.
Backyard BBQ kings and queens are learning that the grill can add to all parts of the meal. Grilled items now appear across the menu, from appetizers to desserts. But what about soups and sauces?
The grill is a perfect place to begin prepping ingredients for all aspects of the meal. Serve up a French onion soup with grilled onions and grilled garlic bread. Pair grilled potatoes with homemade ketchup made with charred tomatoes. Prepare meats in marinades made from grilled peppers and fruit.
Grilling items before they become a delicious soup, sauce or marinade is easier than most chefs think. It turns out that most any sort of roasting or sautéing for a dish can be accomplished on a grill, oftentimes with greater results in terms of rustic and deeply developed flavors. So go ahead, fire up the grill and discover a new twist on favorite recipes, or use these tips to find new favorite flavors!
What do I need to get started?
Grilled items such as peppers, onions and fruit give your dishes a jump start before they hit the table. Grilled food has such a distinct flavor add a boost of smoky and sweet caramelized tastes to traditional dishes. Let’s take a look at a few simple steps to get you started.
Grilled onions are transformed from pungent and spicy into sweet and savory morsels.
How to prepare: Remove skin and slice the onion into thirds from the top. Skewer each thick piece through the middle and season with oil. Char the onion over high heat on both sides, allowing the outside to turn brown without cooking the onion all the way through.
How to use: Any soup that uses onion in the broth can benefit from a little bit of grilled onion. Or, toss some grilled onion into your favorite salsa recipe or your favorite marinade for grilled chicken.
There are two ways to turn raw garlic cloves into little golden flavor nuggets:
1. Peel the garlic cloves from their papery skin, then skewer 15-20 cloves onto a metal skewer and lightly coat with olive oil. Grill the garlic for 3-4 minutes until the outside is lightly charred. The cloves do not need to cook all the way through.
2. Holding a head of garlic sideways on the cutting board, slice the head of garlic into two equal halves. Lightly drizzle oil onto the exposed garlic cloves and place cut-side down onto a piece of foil. Over light heat, grill the garlic on the foil until the exterior of the garlic head feels soft and the cloves are light brown.
The resulting garlic can be used in any recipe where garlic is called for. Need some inspiration? Grilled garlic vinaigrette, garlic Dijon butter, tomato marinara, homemade hot sauce and traditional guacamole are just a few ways to add grilled garlic to your menu.
Using grilled peppers is a great way to boost recipes from all over the globe from sweet Italian peppers to the spicy jalapeno.
How to prepare: Place peppers directly on the hot grill without any oil or seasoning. Allow the outside of the peppers to char completely. Once cooled, peel the charred skin away, leaving a soft pepper flesh that is ready to be chopped, sliced and diced.
How to use: Mojo sauces, chimichurri, pepper jelly, jalapeno mustard and marinades for shrimp or seafood can all utilize grilled peppers.
Some foods require longer cook times, so you can set up your grill for dual-cooking zones, meaning half of your grill is set to high, leaving half of your grill at lower temperature. If you are using a charcoal grill, push the majority of the coals to one side, creating two distinct heating zones.
What else can I grill?
Fruits: Mango, pineapple, peaches, oranges, lemons and limes
Vegetables: Corn, potatoes, green onions and carrots
Herbs: Herbs such as parsley and cilantro can be lightly grilled for 10-15 seconds to release their flavorful oils. However, longer grilling should be avoided as they can burn easily.
What if I don’t have a grill?
If you don’t have a grill or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can still achieve a charred, smoky flavor on your saucy ingredients by using your oven broiler. Set your broiler for the highest possible heat and keep an eye on your food so it doesn’t burn.
Tip: Grill your items with just a light coating of oil. Season your food during later stages of preparation.
Supermarket Tip: If you’re new to the grilled food world, start by sampling a few fire-roasted options already available in your local market. Readily available options include fire-roasted tomatoes, corn and peppers.
Use these recipes as inspiration to transform your classic family recipes into new favorites!
Simple Charred Salsa
-1 Roma tomato, cut in half and charred on the grill
-3 cloves charred garlic
-1/3 charred onion
-¼ roasted jalapeno
-¼ cup raw cilantro
-Salt to taste
-Pepper to taste
-Cumin to taste
Char the first four ingredients on your favorite grill and blend to your desired consistency.
-2 avocados, split and quickly charred on the grill
-3 cloves grilled garlic
-¾ fire-roasted pepper
-1 lime, split and charred on the grill
-¼ cup grilled onion
After a quick sear on the grill, allow ingredients to cool completely before serving. Then, mash all ingredients to desired consistency.
Quick Thai Dressing
-2 tablespoons lemon juice from a charred lemon
-1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
-½ teaspoon sugar
-1 charred garlic clove
-½ bunch of grilled green onion
Mix all ingredients and serve. This simple sauce tastes great on any Asian-inspired grilled meat.
Great Grilled Soup
-2 heads of grilled garlic
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, cut in half and grilled
-1 tomato, cut in half and quickly grilled
-7 cups chicken stock
-2 diced poblano peppers that have been charred and peeled
-Juice of 1 grilled lime
-1 avocado, split and charred
-1 ½ tablespoons cilantro
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Charred lime wedges to garnish
Combine all ingredients into a soup pot; simmer for 35-40 minutes before blending to smooth consistency.
-2 to 3 grilled and peeled poblano peppers
-2 medium onions, split in half and grilled
-2 peaches, split and grilled
-¼ cup peach nectar
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-1/3-cup fresh basil
-2 teaspoons pink salt
-½ cup olive oil
-1 teaspoon hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a blender and pour over your favorite meat. Marinade for a minimum of 1 hour, preferably longer. Try this tasty sauce on chicken, pork, beef and seafood.
About the Author:
Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Brian Johnston is a big fan of outdoor grilling. Brian’s interests lie in taking the art of grilling to new heights, including using the grill for soups and sauces. To view grill accessories that could help you make your own next great creation, you can visit the Home Depot website here. For more ideas, you can also view a Home Depot grilling guide.