During the summer months I like to turn my grill into a makeshift outdoor kitchen. And by grilling, I’m not talking about throwing things on grates. I do that too, but I step it up a few notches. I bring out baking pans, pots and my favorite – the cast iron skillet. I’m able to cook everything I want on the grill, even things I’d have to do in the oven during the not so warm winters months. Think roasted chicken on the skillet with some sliced potatoes and onions.
With a few tips, tricks and ideas – you too can turn your grill into an outdoor kitchen and not overheat the one inside.
Forget flame ups and where to place the grates – throw your meats directly on the charcoal. This method works particularly well with thick cuts of meat like pork, lamb and beef. What you’ll want to do is use a thick dry rub on the meats to protect the flesh from ash. You’ll then want to cook the meats the same amount of time as you would the traditional way. The only difference is that this is WAY better! Another way to use charcoal is to cook both whole onions and potatoes inside it. Once they are grey, cover the vegetables for an hour or so and you’ll end up with an amazing side dish.
Whatever you can do in the oven or even the stove top, you can do with your grill and a cast iron skillet. You can roast a chicken and use the drippings for a sauce or even a pork roast. Sear a pork chop on both sides, throw in handful of cherry’s and a dash of brandy and close the lid for 20 minutes. You can also bake with your cast iron skillet. Think cornbread or maybe a bread pudding for a fun dessert.
Use Indirect Heat
The obvious way to use a grill, rather it be charcoal or gas, is to just throw the meat on the grates over direct heat. Indirect heat turns the grill into an oven. Use one side of the grill as a direct heat source for searing of meats. Once you get a nice crust on the meat, move over to the side of the grill where there isn’t any heat. Place a drip pan underneath and use the drippings for a quick au jus. An added benefit of using indirect heat is that you don’t have to worry about flame ups that can char and ruin almost anything.
Think Outside the Box
Most people think corn on the cob or maybe asparagus when it comes to grilling veggies, but there is so much more you can do. Lettuces are absolutely amazing on the grill. You can do a “sear” of sorts with romaine lettuce and then top with a caesar dressing. Or grill cabbage and toss with a chimichurri sauce when it’s done. The heat and smoke opens it up and it becomes a sponge to dressings. Stone fruits like peaches are great grilled over direct heat, as is pineapple. Just serve with a great quality vanilla ice cream.
So for your next weekend gathering or even a weeknight dinner, move outside to your outdoor kitchen for a lot more flavor.