It's June so just say alla griglia (on the grill) and you will be all set for summer cooking outdoors.
Italians love grilled foods and, in particular, in the region of Umbria where alla griglia is a way of life. Everything from beloved porchetta (whole roasted pork) to an alphabet of vegetables is cooked on the grill to bring out natural flavors.
But there is an art to grilling successfully. Here are some dos and don'ts to keep you at the top of your game:
Get a good grill. It will make all the difference when it comes to getting the most out of your food. There are many types out there, from gas to charcoal. Where you live will be an important factor in determining what grill you buy.
Don't be afraid of the heat. The biggest mistake people make is not getting the grill hot enough. Preheating the grill is essential and that may mean anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Be sure your grill has a thermometer so you know when to slap those ribs on without them sticking to the grill top! A hot grill is a stick-free grill!
Cast iron is your friend. One of the best ways to cook on the grill is to use a cast iron pan for delicate foods like halibut, or scallops. Just put the pan on the grill while it is preheating and get it to 500F. Then add the delicate foods. It will cook in a flash and not stick.
Don't be afraid to get saucy. Have your favorite sauce handy and dinner is ready in minutes, and the best part is, in the summer, you won't overheat the house!
Follow directions. Cook over direct or indirect heat according to your grill manufacturer's instructions.
Summer should be about slowing down and getting outdoors. That's why alla griglia should be your mode of cooking until the next cold wind blows!
Try grilling a whole dinner, including dessert. Here is a sample menu:
Grilled Red Pepper Salad (You can grill the peppers on your outdoor grill or in your broiler, whichever is easier.)
Grilled Potato Planks (Figure one baking potato per person.)
Grilled Swordfish with Red Onions (Just put the cast iron pan on the grill as it heats up. Instead of putting the fish directly on the grill, put it in the pan.)
Grilled T-Bone Steak. (Seared on the outside, pink on the inside. The perfect grilled steak.)
Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream (This one isn't on the Ciao Italia website. Place peeled and pitted peach halves on the grill and brush with melted butter and honey. Serve them in ice cream bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.)
Let me know if you try any of these recipes and tell me how they turned out!