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TTT (7/20/10)-Baking on Your Grill
One way to lower your summer electric bill in Arizona, or any other place, is to bake on your grill instead of heating up the oven in your house.
Baking on your grill is essentially the same as in your oven, with the exception you are using either charcoal or gas, but without the benefit of a metal plate between the heat source and the food. This translates to indirect heat. In order to bake on your grill you need:
1.) A lid or cover for your grill
2.) Relatively tight temperature control
3.) Uniform heat distribution in your grill
4.) A way to accurately set and monitor the temperature
If you are fortunate enough to have a gas grill with 3 to 5 heat zones, you’re set. Simply turn on the burners at each end of the grill and you have indirect heat. Many gas grills come equipped with an extra heating rack integrated into the lid. Placing the food as high as you can in the grill, such as on an upper shelf, will help you have the greatest distance between the heat source(s) and the food, as well as provide you with greater uniformity in heat distribution.
If you are grilling on a charcoal grill, you will need to have your hot coals arranged around the food instead of beneath the food. You can then use the dampers to control the flow of air/oxygen going into the grill to control the amount of heat produced. Baking on charcoal definitely requires more practice and technique. However, once mastered, it opens a huge opportunity for cooking great food.
A good starting place for baking on your grill is baked potatoes. Potatoes contain a lot of water, so burning is less of an issue. Combined with onions and butter, you will have one of my favorites:
1 roll of heavy duty aluminum foil
4 large baking potatoes
1 large onion
1 stick of butter
Tear off 4 squares (12” x 12” minimum).
Cut the stick of butter into 8 pads.
Cut the potatoes into ½ inch fries (do not peel them).
Halve and slice the onion.
Place one potato, ¼ of the onions and two pads of butter on one sheet of the aluminum foil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring two of the edges together and crimp and roll (making an aluminum tube with the potatoes in the tube).
Crimp and fold one of the ends making an open-ended packet.
Gently shake the packet forcing the potatoes to the end just crimped.
Now crimp the open end.
Cook on your grill over indirect heat (about 375 degrees) for about 15 minutes, flip and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
Breads can be cooked on a grill as well; you will want to try this AFTER you have mastered temperature control on your grill.
Remember, indirect heat and its control is the key to successful baking on your grill.
One exception to the statement above is grilling pizzas. Thin pizza dough can be cooked on a medium-high heat as long as the dough is rolled thin enough to cook though. Simply cook the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, flip, top with your toppings and quickly close the lid until the cheese melts. You must move quickly, so have your ingredients at the ready.
Chef David Hall