The Griller’s Garden

The Griller’s Garden

June 18, 2012

Chef Rick Bayless is just steps away from his garden when cooking in his outdoor kitchen by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

The chef’s garden is becoming a must-have addition to the outdoor kitchen. With fresh herbs close at hand and a bounty of summer vegetables, outdoor cooking has never tasted better – or fresher.

Herbs are forgiving container plants, so they are easily grown near the outdoor kitchen. Fresh thyme is perfect for seasoning poultry and fish or for finishing a salad. Basil is a must for anyone with an outdoor pizza oven and for the classic Pizza Margherita. Fresh oregano can be rubbed onto sliced baguettes before grilling with a little olive oil and salt for a subtle perfume.

You can also add fresh herbs to wood chips to lend their flavor to the smoke, and quickly infuse delicate fish fillets with additional flavor. Try tossing fresh rosemary directly onto the fire and then cooking a nice piece of rock fish or shrimp right above the herbs.

Many vegetables take on a different flavor profile when cooked over a live fire. Asparagus exhibits a more “meaty” character when grilled in contrast to the more grassy notes to which most people are accustomed. The key to great grilled asparagus or green beans is to toss them in a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice prior to cooking directly on the grill grate.

Roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are a fantastic treat when roasted, especially over a wood fire. Again, the flavor is quite different compared to a steamed or sautéed preparation. Rather than placing the produce over the hot part of the grill, roast them indirectly with no heat beneath. (Learn more about direct versus indirect grilling techniques.)

Plant your griller’s garden this year and treat yourself to your own fresh produce on the grill this summer.