“Food 52 Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (and More)”
You see it on restaurant menus everywhere now. Chefs have brought ‘smoked’ and ‘charred’ to foods you wouldn’t dream of, like smoked ice cream. Paula Disbrowe’s new grilling cookbook for online kitchen and home website FOOD52 (https://food52.com/) doesn’t delve into desserts deeper than grilling fruit and riffing on s’mores, but it goes way beyond burgers and brats.
In addition to innovative recipes for dishes starring everything from grilled shrimp to grilled salad, Disbrowe teaches two techniques for which fire-loving chefs have developed a taste: using a grill basket and cooking in embers, the latter exemplified in the recipe below. “Why waste,” she writes, “a bed of glowing embers? Coal-roasting … is a brilliant way to make the most of a fire that’s left behind after you’ve grilled something else over charcoal.” This cookbook will make you rethink how you use your grill.
Ten Speed Press. $24.99
Smoky Eggplant Dip with Grilled Pita
Serves 4 to 6
Cooking eggplant directly on a bed of glowing coals dusted with ash blisters and blackens their skin and turns their flesh tender and smoky (unfortunately, you can’t achieve this on a gas grill). They’ll collapse onto themselves but still hold their shape. The smoky flesh creates an incredible riff on baba ghanoush, the beloved Middle Eastern appetizer. … Use small onions because they’ll become tender faster.
3 large or 4 medium eggplants (about 3 pounds/1.4kg)
2 small onions, unpeeled
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large clove garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup (10g) freshly chopped parsley
2 heaping tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of your best extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1. Prepare a charcoal grill for one-zone cooking* and build a medium fire.
2. When the coals are covered with ash and glowing orangish red with no black remaining (about 35 minutes after you light the coals), place the eggplants and onions directly on the coals and cook, using tongs to turn them occasionally, until skins are blackened and tender and the eggplants have collapsed, 10 to 15 minutes for the eggplants, 20 to 25 minutes for the onions.
3. Let the eggplants and onions cool slightly on a rimmed baking sheet. Cut the eggplant open lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the tender insides; discard the charred skin and stem. Place the eggplant flesh in a colander and let excess moisture drain for 15 to 30 minutes (as time allows).
4. Meanwhile, peel, quarter, and dice the onion. Place the onion, thyme, garlic, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and pulse into a coarse puree. Add the drained eggplant flesh, parsley, tahini, lemon juice, and a few grindings of pepper and process until the mixture is combined but still has some texture. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with your best olive oil.
5. Before serving, brush pita bread with additional olive oil (this isn’t necessary but creates a richer flavor), and grill until lightly charred, a minute or two per side. If your fire has gotten extremely low, you can also heat the pita bread directly on the glowing coals, using long-handled tongs to flip after a minute or two on each side. Lightly salt the pita bread, slice into wedges if desired, and serve warm alongside the dip.
*For two-zone (or indirect grilling) cooking … bank the coals on one side of the grill, creating. Cooler zone on the side with no coals.
“Reprinted with permission from Food52 Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (and More) by Paula Disbrowe, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”
Photography credit: James Ransom © 2018