Fries off the grill

30th May, 2011 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Grilled French fries

Now that we’re post-Memorial Day, it is – in theory, any way – grilling season. Because hamburgers are a classic grill item, we’re going to take a look at what goes them: french fries.

Outdoor grilling is popular because it’s easy. Fire up the grill, wait for everything to get to the appropriate temperature, toss some meat and other tasty items on the fire, then stand back. Drink cold things and occasionally flip stuff.

Since the whole point of grilling is to do everything outside, running back into the kitchen to make the accompaniments doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Most recipes for grilled potatoes call for parboiling first, then finishing on the grill. This is great, if you have nothing else to do.

In order to get crispy grilled potatoes without any extra kitchen time, first choose your potato wisely. The temptation will be to select smaller potatoes like Yukon Golds or Baby Reds. Resist this urge and go for the humble Russet.

The reason is that the smaller red and gold potatoes have a higher water content. This gives them a smooth, waxy interior that is great for potato salad, but not so much for grilling over direct heat. Russets are drier and the end result is a fluffy interior more reminiscent of steak fries.

There are two tricks to perfect grilled potato fries. The first is all in the cut – don’t get too extreme in either direction. Too thick and the exterior will burn before the inside cooks; too thin and you’ll have a burned crisp with no potato at all. Cut the fries to about half an inch thick then proceed from there.

The other trick is a grilling technique that can be applied to anything over the fire: cover it. Grills throw off a lot of heat. By using a cover, you can capture a lot of it and both speed up the cooking process and make it more even. It’s the best of both grilling and baking.

If your grill doesn’t have a cover, one can be improvised with an aluminum roasting pan flipped upside down. This is my preferred method because it’s cheap, disposable and easy to move around with tongs. I’ve also seen roaster lids and aluminum foil used in a pinch. If you decide to use a discarded baking pan, don’t use one with a non-stick coating. The coating isn’t meant to be exposed to flame and will give out a lot of toxicity that you really don’t want near your food.

Another thing to consider when selecting a lid is that anything used for this job is pretty much useless for anything afterwords, so choose carefully.

Once the potatoes are sliced, brush them with oil and place them on the grill crossways to the grill wires. Don’t skip the oil – it’s keeps them from sticking and helps with browning. The reason for potato placement will be obvious if you do it wrong.

I like to sprinkle the slices with some seasoned salt but any strongly flavored dried herbs will work well too. Dried rosemary, lemon or chipolte seasonings are all great here.

Serve up with your favorite steaks and burgers and enjoy al fresco.

Grilled Potato Fries

Spice rub
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sugar (optional)

1 lb. russet potatoes
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat all burners of a gas grill to medium-high heat or light a charcoal grill.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Brush with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the spice rub (you may not need all of it).
If you’re using a gas grill, lower one of the burners to low heat, leaving the other(s) at medium-high to create a hot zone and a cool zone. If you’re using a charcoal grill, bank the hot coals to one side of the grill so that you have a hotter side and a cooler side. (The coals should be 5 to 6 inches from the grate on the hotter side.)
Put the potatoes on the grill, cut side down, directly over the hottest part of the fire. Cover the grill (if you’re using a charcoal grill, cover it only partially and make sure the bottom vents are open). Cook the potatoes until deep reddish-golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes, and turn them over onto their other cut side. Cover and grill until nicely colored, another 4 to 6 minutes. Move the potatoes to the cooler side of the grill, flipping them so they’re skin side down. Cover and grill until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about another 6 minutes. Serve immediately.


Posted on: May 30, 2011

Filed under: Sides, Vegetarian

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