The warmer weather is here, and it’s the perfect opportunity to fire up the grill and enjoy a meal with friends and family.
If you’re like many grill owners, you’re probably very familiar with the classics. Steaks, hot dogs, and burgers are staples during the summer. You probably have your own way to cook these popular ingredients, and they probably always go down a hit whether you’re relaxing with your family or entertaining friends on the weekend or a sports night.
But, if you want to get the most from your grill, now’s the perfect time to start experimenting. Whether you’re cooking with gas or charcoal, the following ideas will elevate your cooking game, and many if not all of these are likely to become your new summer favorites.
Grill Fired Pizza
Pizza is a favorite at any time of the year. You can make it a new summer tradition by cooking on the grill. Pizza’s are traditionally cooked in extremely hot wood-fired ovens. With the hood down, your grill will provide similar conditions.
You can make your pizza base by hand if you have the experience, otherwise, a premium store-bought base will work fine. The beauty of pizza is that there are no rules when it comes to toppings. Make it simple and classic, sweet, savory, spicy hot, or anything in between.
Use a tomato paste or pizza sauce for the base if you’re working with savory ingredients like sausage meat, pepperoni, and other deli-style choices. You can use a pesto base for a chicken pizza. Combine mozzarella and cheddar on top with fresh aromatic herbs for a pizza that friends and family will find unforgettable.
Any of your favorite pizza recipes and toppings will work on the grill. Remember to precook any raw meats.
Pizza takes around 2 – 7 minutes to cook on a grill heated between 350°F and 450°F. Use any preheated baking tray on your grilling surface, or, invest in a Ceramic Pizza Grilling Stone for better results. You can also use the stone for grill-fired bread and other baked goods.
Grilled veggies will become a summer favorite when you learn how to cook them right. Vegetables have natural sugars and flavonoids that result in delicious bites when cooked over a hot grill. High temperatures and fast cooking times can even help to preserve the nutrients in most vegetables.
You can skewer vegetables or cook them directly on a hot plate or cooking grate. Some favorites include:
Onions (10 Minutes each side, cooked whole).
Sweet bell peppers ( 6 Minutes each side).
Corn on the Cob (25 Minutes, turning often).
Portabello Mushrooms (7 Minutes each Side).
Vegetables don’t need seasoning, but you can serve them with dips of your choice to create new flavor combinations. Ranch-style dips are perfect for summer meals.
Grilled Summer Fruits
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never grilled fruit. This simple and tasty idea will be a hit with kids and adults alike, and it’s incredibly easy to pull off.
The best fruits to cook on the grill are pears, apples, pineapples, peaches, strawberries, and bananas. Cube your fruits and cook them on pre-soaked skewers to prevent burning. Fruits should be cooked at moderate heat directly over the flame. Cook your fruits until they start to darken and caramelize.
Serve these as starters or as cocktail nibbles during a summer dinner party.
Slow and Smoky Chicken
A hooded grill is perfect for cooking a whole chicken, turkey, and even duck. If you’re working with a smaller grill, you can adjust this recipe to use bone-in chicken pieces. Chicken breast also works, although you’ll get much better results with the skin on.
Chicken has a neutral flavor when it is cooked quickly. The slower cooking time and smoky flavorings will make this version your juiciest and most flavorful yet.
Start by resting your chicken to room temperature (fully defrost it if it’s frozen) and coat the entire chicken in a dry rub or liquid seasoning. You can use any store-bought seasoning, or try our Dry Rub Steak recipe below.
A lot of the flavor in this recipe is going to come from the smoke. In a charcoal grill, you can add smoker chips or pellets directly onto the coals. In a gas grill, use a smoker box like this one from Char-Broil. The smoke will add complexity and a savory smokiness to your poultry or game meat.
Cook low and slow with the hood down to infuse the most flavor. You can even use a rotisserie if your grill has one. Aim for a grill temperature around 225°F. The chicken is ready when it’s 165°F at the deepest part of the meat and next to the bones. This affordable ThermPro Food Thermometer is essential if you don’t already have a probe.
Dry Rub Steak
There’s nothing better than a juicy and tender grilled steak expertly cooked in the summer. While most people only lightly season their steaks with salt and pepper, you can introduce more complex flavors and aromas with a dry rub.
A rich and spicy flavor blend will give your steak a whole new characteristic.
Mix your rub to taste with:
Dark brown sugar for sweetness.
Smoked paprika for smoky BBQ flavor.
Onion and garlic powder for aromatics.
Oregano for a natural green flavor.
Cumin for its earthiness.
Cayenne pepper for some heat that most people will be comfortable with.
Start by resting your steak until it reaches room temperature. Pat it lightly with paper towels to remove excess moisture. You can then sprinkle and rub the spice mixture on all sides of the steak, being sure not to leave any area uncovered.
You could start cooking right away, or, leave the steak resting again at room temperature for an hour before cooking it as you normally would. This rub works great with steaks that are cooked to medium-rare on direct heat.
Grilled Cauliflower Steaks
If you are a vegan then, it’s almost conceivable that you will cook some vegetable steaks. However,
if you expect to actually enjoy your Vegan Steaks, do ensure that it has a unique meaty texture and aroma. There are several recipes to try, but many are quite complicated.
Cut a fresh cauliflower into small and thick slices before dousing them with a smokey blend made up of chipotle chili powder, lime zest, and some paprika.
Place the entire mix of Caulisteaks in a hot grate to cook. Once they are evenly cooked, saturate (or marinate) with some honey, garlic and olive oil until they are browned. Your final touches must include mixing the Caulisteaks with some chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.
You may also use homemade seasoning marinade made up of coconut sugar, tamari, ginger, cinnamon, chili, and coriander. The grilled steaks can be served over a bed of rice.
If veggie steaks aren’t part of your plans, then please try some Tofu because it can be tastier than a grilled vegan patty.
Tofu, in the first place, can be an entree-worthy backyard treat this summer – that is if everything is done systematically.
Yes! It should be among the highly revered delicacies such as steak, ribs, chopsticks, grilled fish and the likes.
So, to prepare an incredibly Grilled Tofu, quickly start by preparing the non-silken Tofu. Carefully unpack your tofu and dry it well. As it hardens, think of how you will give it a flavor – heavy seasoning and marination will work out well. If you skip the all-important step of marinating the delicacy, trust me, the whole dish will taste bad.
Now, give the hardened piece of tofu a befitting flavor by soaking it in barbecue sauce, Italian dressing, jerk seasoning and any other blend that delights. Remember to use as many of the sauces as possible.
Once you are confident that you did a really good marination, cook the pieces under low indirect heat. Flip momentarily for the precious grille marks. Serve with the sauce again and enjoy.
Grilled Pork Chops
Perhaps you know that the simplest way of tenderizing meat before it is barbecued is to flatten using a hammer.
So, after hitting 4-8 small pieces of pork, soak them in a saucy mixture for an hour or so. It should be done the elaborate way so that the dish absorbs all the flavors ahead of grilling.
Wipe off the saucy marinade, season with salt and grill over low, indirect heat for a few minutes.
You will wait until the chops are clear colored or slightly pink before seasoning again and serving.
Let’s face it; cooking bacon indoors is glamorous until the greasy fats mess up the whole place.
However, cooking outside is beneficial because besides being able to grill tasty bacon, no much cleanup would be needed.
You just cook the bacon for 5-6 minutes, stick it on a burger and enjoy with a salad.
Experiment With Your Favorite Ingredients On the Grill Tonight
Cooking is all about experimentation and getting the most from ingredients that you love. Try the ideas above, and don’t be afraid to make variations of what you are used to in the kitchen.
Outdoor cooking offers more freedom and flexibility to combine new ingredients. Over time, you’ll find that summer, or any time of the year is perfect for your grilled specialties.