Men are from Mars, women from Venus, or so the popular self-help book proclaimed. We can all agree, however, that foods taste even better when they’ve spent some time over the flame.
Image Credit: Landon Collis
As the authors of the new cookbook Red, White, and ‘Que: Farm-Fresh Foods for the American Grill, Karen Adler and I like to push the barbecue envelope with every recipe we create. What makes us happy is to marry the world of white tablecloth with the world of down-home barbeque, great food and drink with a relaxing, casual style.
Women do approach the grill differently. We like variety, for one thing. Planked salmon. Grilled pizza. An Asian-inspired steak. A really fabulous burger. We like color. And flavor. And fun.
We think about the whole meal, from start to finish, so here are our best tips for grilling.
1. Have a Pre-Dinner Drink
For your pre-dinner drink, grill the cut sides of fresh lemons or limes for an interesting twist on a whiskey sour or your favorite cocktail.
2. Whip Up a Simple Appetizer
For an easy appetizer for your Chef’d meal, consider brushing olive oil on slices of good, crusty bread and grilling those as well. Olive oil-brushed bread on the grill is a revelation. Artisan bread gets a smoky, rustic flavor on the grill and can be topped with anything—chopped tomatoes, pesto, goat cheese, Parmesan, and herbs—for an easy-does-it appetizer. And an added benefit for today’s backyard barbecuer, grilled bread with toppings can go gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or whatever your guest list dictates.
3. Cook Sides and Mains Together
Grill the main and side dishes at the same time, as in our Chef’d meals, as much as possible. And grill for leftovers. They taste just as good the next day.
4. If You're Out of Ideas, Try a Grilled Pizza
Pizzas and flatbreads on the grill are delicious and easy, and you can top them with just about anything. Tip: If your pizza doesn’t look quite round, call it a flatbread. It’s just as delicious, but not as Type A.
5. Always Grill Your Veggies
Try to make the most of your time outside, so grilling vegetables grilling alongside the meat, fish, or chicken makes perfect sense. Garden peppers of all kinds—red bell or Japanese Shishitos—blister beautifully on the grill, then soften and sweeten as they cook. Anything in the cabbage family, from baby bok choy to wedges of red or green cabbage, grilled on the cut sides, tastes great with just a drizzle of any dressing you like. Grilled corn, tomatoes, zucchini—you name it—deliver color, flavor, and freshness.
6. And Never Forget About Dessert
Dessert could be a slice or two of pound or angel food cake grilled on each side for a minute, served with a spoonful of fresh berries and a dollop of honeyed Greek yogurt. Or, while the grill is still hot, dark chocolate crostini. Just grill small slices of baguette and while they’re still warm, top with a square of two of good chocolate until the chocolate gets slightly melty. Sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt. No marshmallow required!