Ever since man crawled out of his cave and discovered fire, there has been an obsession with grilling.
There is just something about slapping a huge hunk of meat on a set of red-hot metal bars that gets men all worked up. The classic stereotypical picture of the man of the house drooling over his grill while the woman of the house is out shopping for shoes certainly can bring on a chuckle. But then again, the reason this image is funny is because it's often so true.
Go beyond meat
There is, however, more to grilling than just the cave man's hunter instinct. Sometimes the 'gatherer' comes into play. Let's take a look at a few other things that can be grilled in order to expand the cooking vocabulary of today's domesticated cave man and cave woman.
More than meat
While grilling usually goes hand in hand with sports, summer days, and pool outings, that doesn't mean it has to be the same meal over and over – either chicken, steak, hamburgers, or hotdogs. There are tons of other foods you can grill out that will possibly change your perception of what you can do with your grill.
A good grill can give you all the cooking surfaces you need. From an open flame to a stove top to an oven and rotisserie, grills are the ultimate cooking machine. The sky is the limit when you begin dreaming about your cookout. Meat need not be the focus of your meal when you can also grill your salad, soup, and even dessert.
Rise to the occasion
Bread cooked on the grill is light and fluffy while having an irresistible crunchy crust. Indian breads are great to grill, like naan, which is typically cooked in a tandoori oven over an open flame. Pizzas, tortillas, and even cornbread are other great dishes that benefit from the dry heat and smokey flavor from the grill.
Flat breads are the most common breads to throw on the grill since they char easily and cook quickly. Other breads that are common are your artisan styles, like chibatta and focaccia, which are also thinner breads that will cook faster and take on the charred flavor and grilled look.
Savor your sweet tooth
Desserts cooked on the grill bring a whole new flavor profile to your favorite sweet treat. Just take pound cake for example. Have you ever considered throwing a slice on the grill? Maybe you should. And after you do that, top it with a warm espresso chocolate drizzle and a hand full of chopped, roasted pistachios. Your preconceived notions of grilled desserts will be forever altered.
If that doesn't get you excited, how about a grilled banana sundae? That's right. Slice a couple bananas in half lengthwise and throw them on the grill. If you want to get a great char on them, coat them first with some orange juice. Create your sundae, throw the grilled bananas on and then top with a little orange zest to bring the flavor full circle. Now that's flavor even a cave man would love!
Who would have thought you could grill almost anything! All it takes to create a new spin on an old family favorite is a metal rack and some hot embers. Use your imagination and pretty soon you'll be firing up the grill for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and even a midnight snack!
Unique grilled foods
The staples of the grilling world, like steak, chicken, and hamburgers are great, but there are some less common foods that make for amazing meals. These are ingredients and dishes you may not have thought of, but should. Real grillers want to throw everything on the grill they can find. And guess what? They can! Nothing should be off limits. Let's take a look at some uncommon grilling fare.
Cedar plank salmon
If you want an amazingly romantic dish for your significant other with all the “manly-man” feel of grilling out, try cedar plank salmon. You start with a cedar plank, which is simply a piece of wood, that is soaked in either water or apple cider vinegar. Then you marinade a whole salmon fillet, with the skin on, in a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, and capers. The longer you marinade, the better it will be; six hours is ideal.
Set your grill on medium-low and once it gets hot, place the wet cedar plank on the grill and place the salmon skin side down on the plank. Spoon a little of the excess marinade, including the capers, onto the salmon and then close the grill cover and cook until the salmon is cooked through. The time will depend on the size of the salmon, but you are probably going to cook it for about 25 to 35 minutes. This dish is not only delicious, the presentation is gorgeous; rugged yet romantic. Perfect combination.
Fried Green Tomatoes are a great classic. So, why not try grilled green tomatoes instead? You can grill them healthier than frying them, especially if you leave off the breading. They also will not be in a pan with oil. Keep the slices thick to help hold the tomatoes together. You don't want all the juicy parts to disappear down the grates. Just salt and pepper and place the tomatoes directly on the grill grates or on a grilling tray. If you cut them thick enough, you may also be able to use a grilling basket that squeezes shut and holds them steady. This is a homey appetizer with great appeal. Serve with a nice dip for a complete appetizer, side dish, or snack.
Grapes on the side
Fruit on the grill is an incredible treat. If you have ever had grilled mango or grilled pineapple, then you know exactly what we are talking about. But grapes? Sure, they are filled with natural sugars that help to caramelize nicely on the grill. A little bit of oil and a bunch of red grapes makes a great compliment to your grilled steak. Try green grapes as a side with grilled fish. You'll need a grilling basket to toss the grapes around until they soften and start to brown. A touch of salt will bring out the sweet. These are pretty, delicious, and quite unusual.
Sausage fruit kebabs
When you think of sausages, thoughts of smoky flavored goodness served in a bun may come to mind. This is a great application, but does yet another sandwich seem boring? Then what do you do? You cut the sausage into chunks, add some fruit, a couple nice pieces of bell pepper, stick it all on a skewer and put it on the grill for a delicious kebab. Now that simple sausage is a beautiful dinner. You can expand on the theme by making a little sauce out of fruit juice and soy sauce, reduced down in a saucepan. All these flavors blend well. With the salty sausage and the sweet fruit, you've got a perfect combination.
Outside dining does not have to be the same old thing every time you fire up the grill. By playing around with a few new ingredients, you can come up with some amazing recipes. Surprise yourself and impress your family and guests with outrageously delicious dishes, hot off the grill!