Although a grill often brings to mind cookouts and traditional foods like burgers and hot dogs, Austin culinary school students know this versatile cooking method can produce a wide variety of delicious results. One type of delicious but less well-known grilled food to consider as you develop recipes to both share with friends and use in professional settings is fruit. While not every fruit lends itself to cooking over an open fire, there are plenty of options you can use in everything from appetizers to side dishes and desserts.
What’s so special about grilling fruit?
Fruit can be served in a variety of preparations, from raw and fresh off the vine (or tree, or bush), to stewed and canned or even deep fried. Grilling is special because it can create delicious caramelized flavors as well as a variety of textures, offering a familiar food in a decidedly new form. It also releases moisture, as Prince Arthur Flour reported, which creates a more concentrated fruit flavor in each piece from the grill. As a matter of practicality, grilling fruit is a useful strategy because it requires just one type of cooking to make both a main dish and a side. Whether you’re planning a barbeque for friends or staging a special restaurant event outside of the kitchen, grilling fruit can provide a variety of delicious flavors while cutting down on prep needs and cleanup time.
Advice to keep in mind when putting fruit on the grill
Some fruits are better than others when it comes to grilling, and there are certain methods of preparation you can consider to create new flavors and find good pairings with the other parts of the meal. Whole Foods pointed out some of the best fruits for grilling, including apples, peaches, pears, pineapples and watermelons. Feel free to experiment with a wide variety of fruits. They’re particularly inexpensive foods for the most part, making the testing of new recipes easy.
Additionally, there are certain preparations to consider to both enhance flavor and ensure some moisture stays trapped within these fruits. A light brushing of maple syrup can add a caramelized, crispy outer layer, while soaking fruits in alcohol creates a more nuanced flavor. Honey can also be used as a coating. A more neutral way to coat fruits and ensure they don’t stick to the grill is with a light brushing of a vegetable oil with a high smoke point.
A few recipes to consider
Prince Arthur suggested grilling or roasting fruit during breakfast as an alternative to including fruit pieces in pancakes. This approach helps the fruit stand out from the powerful tastes offered by the pancake and any syrup or other accouterments used. It also helps avoid unevenly cooked pancakes with wet spots around the included fruit, as excess moisture leeches out over the grill instead of in the batter.
Williams-Sonoma offered a recipe for brined pork chops with grilled stone fruit, a one cooking-surface meal that brings a variety of flavors and textures together in a unique mix. The brining helps the lean pork chops remain juicy and delicious after grilling, while the sweet flavor of the plums, peaches or nectarines can be offset with a little bit of chopped red onion.
Grilled fruits can even be used effectively in drink recipes. Sangria, a warm-weather classic that has a home in glasses all year round, and you can add a unique, smoky taste to it. Chowhound offered a recipe that will be sure to surprise and delight those who drink it.