How To: Grill to Perfection

Fruit

Made for grilling, fruit’s natural sugars caramelize under medium heat and deliver a sweet smoothness and intense flavor. Larger chunks sit well on grilling grates so cut pineapple into blocks, halve apples and bananas (but leave the skins on), or cut large slices of watermelon. Smaller fruits such as strawberries can be grilled as part of a fruit kebab, but remember to use two skewers to prevent the fruit from spinning when turning.

Grilling time is dependent on texture. Hard fruits retain form for longer periods of time, and softer fruits work well if quickly charred. Peaches are one of the best choices for grilling, and make a gorgeous addition to ice cream or grilled meats. Add even more flavor to fruit by pre-marinating in spiced water or your favorite tipple, or brush with spiced butter.

Oysters 

The direct heat of a grill poaches oysters, concentrating their flavors and delivering an intense taste. Heat the grill to medium-high and place clean and scrubbed oysters cupped side (the deeper shell) down and cover. If the oysters are particularly small place on a piece of foil with a few holes punched into it to stop them falling between the grates.

Care must be taken to remove the oysters before they are overcooked and rubbery, difficult as cooking times vary. Keep checking and remove when the shells pop open and the oysters are opaque, cooked through but not dry, usually after 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, remove the top shells and run a sharp knife along the inside of the bottom shell to separate the oyster. Serve with a dab of herb butter or a squeeze of fresh lemon, pesto or hot sauce for those who want a bit of a kick! Clams and mussels also work in the same way, but mussels tend to cook faster and may be ready in 4-8 minutes.

Pizza

The high heat and smoke created by a grill is perfect for pizza making, delivering a lovely smoked flavor to the dough and toppings , while creating a perfect crispiness and professional looking char. Fully preheat the grill, oil the grates and make sure your toppings have been chosen, chopped, grated and set aside ready for when needed. If any of your choices need thorough cooking, such as chicken, it may be best to pre-cook these.

Grill one lightly oiled side of the plain flattened dough base for around 2 minutes until the bottom is just set and lightly browned, before lightly oiling the top side and flipping the dough over. Brush the grilled side again with olive oil before covering lightly with sauce and toppings. This can also be done by removing the dough from the heat and constructing the toppings on a side table before returning to the grill. Close the lid and cook for 3-5 minutes until the bottom begins to char and any cheese has melted. Every grill is different so make sure to keep an eye on the pizza so it doesn’t burn. Remove and let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches are an easy go-to, but without the bread cheese steps into the spotlight. Depending on the type of cheese used, it can either be placed directly on the grills, or wrapped in protective parcels.

The firm and slightly salty halloumi is the golden girl of grilled cheese as it maintains its shape. Cut into ¼-inch slices, lightly oil and cook over medium-high heat for 4-8 minutes, turning halfway. Thick slices of provolone are excellent on the grill too, delivering a delicious chewy crust.

Softer cheeses can also be grilled, with methods varying as to their melting points. Soft wheel cheeses encased in rinds, such as brie and Camembert, can be quickly seared directly on the grill, while semi-soft chesses such as goat’s cheese can be wrapped in a foil container or placed in a specialist baking pot until it is warm and gooey. Serve with honey and figs, or use as a delicious dip.

Lettuce

Grilled lettuce need not match the limp, soggy visions that spring to mind. If done correctly a smoky, warm and still slightly crunchy surprise awaits. Instead of grilling loose leaves choose whole heads of hearty varieties such as romaine, endive or radicchio as they will withstand the heat. A quick sear on a high heat is all that is needed to maintain some crunch, with added warmth and depth of flavor. Place lightly oiled wedges or halves of the heads onto the grill for 30 seconds to a minute a side and serve immediately, sliced and with your favorite salad ingredients.

For a nice side dish, cut little gem lettuce in half and grill cut side down. Once the outer leaves are nicely charred remove from the grill, upturn them onto a dish and place slices of goat cheese on the flat tops. Place under a grill or in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling.