Monday, June 4, 2012

Grill-Roasted Potatoes

You can't go too wrong with roasted potatoes.

They're simple, easy, and relatively tasty. They're flexible--toss some other veggies in with them, or nestle them around a chicken in the oven. Change up the flavor by changing up the spices.

Roasted food in general is a great winter comfort food. Root vegetables and meat, seasoned and cooked in the oven--warm, filling food, with a bonus of a warmer kitchen from your nice hot oven.

But in the summer? The last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. Other than stints making breads and granola bars, the thing sits off all summer long. It's hot enough in my house already.

Still, those same root vegetables start showing up at the market around this time of year. Not the big, cured, storage versions, but the fun little new versions. Fingerling potatoes and little bite-size potatoes in all kinds of colors are hard to resist--but how do you cook a vegetable that normally spends a good long time in a hot oven or on a hot stove if you're trying to keep the kitchen cool?

The same way you cook everything else in summertime: On the grill.

Grill-roasted potatoes go perfectly with a spicy grilled pork chop.
This recipe keeps it simple. Toss chopped or bite-size potatoes with olive oil and some seasonings and grill until tasty.

You can mix it up however you like. Add in carrots or turnips or, toward the end of the cooking time, summer squash and cherry tomatoes. Experiment with the heat of your grill and grilling time, working to get softer or crispier potatoes. Change up the seasonings so your potatoes become the basis for a Mexican papas dish or a warm German potato salad. 

One caveat: Although you can fiddle with foil and successfully bake or roast potatoes and the like on a grill, life is much, much easier if you have a grill basket. A grill basket is just a metal (usually stainless steel or coated aluminum) basket that holds food that would otherwise slip through the grill slats. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, and having this one little piece of equipment will make it much easier to grill a variety of foods (and thus make it much more likely that you'll actually use that grill you paid so much money for).

Basic Grill-Roasted Potatoes
These instructions assume you have a gas grill and a grill basket. If you have a charcoal grill, I'm going to assume you know how to use it. I don't, so I'm not going to give you instructions. If you lack a grill basket, you can make an impromptu one by taking a large sheet of foil and crinkling it up around the sides to hold your potatoes. I recommend doubling the foil to help forestall tragic rips.

Start your grill preheating by turning the gas up to Sear and leaving the lid closed.

Take some potatoes. These are new red potatoes; look for fun varieties like bite-sized purple-skinned potatoes, or long, crooked fingerling potatoes. If the potatoes are small enough, just wash and leave them whole. Bigger potatoes should be cut into bite-size pieces. Either way, leave the skins on--it saves you time and makes your dish a healthier one (most of the vitamins and minerals in potatoes are found in the skins).

New red potatoes.

Put your potatoes in a large bowl, preferably one with a lid.


Drizzle them with olive oil. A little goes a long way, and it's easier to add more than to take oil out.

Olive oil is hard to see on wet potatoes.

Sprinkle with dried or fresh herbs or spices of your choice. Here, I used about 1 Tbs. dried oregano and 2 tsp. salt.

Herby potatoes.

Put the lid on the bowl and shake until the potatoes are thoroughly coated. If you lack a lidded bowl, toss with a spoon until well mixed.

All shook up.

Place a grill basket on a rimmed cookie sheet or other platter to catch the drips.

Put your oiled and seasoned potatoes in the basket.

All the potatoes in one basket.

Assuming your grill has been heating for at least ten minutes, put the basket (sans cookie sheet; that's just for carrying so you don't drip olive oil all over the floor, your clothes, your shoes, the tops of the dogs' heads...not that I speak from personal experience or anything) on the grill.

Close the lid and turn down the heat to about medium high.

Check your potatoes after about ten minutes. Adjust your grill's temperature and cook longer using your discretion. If they're rock hard, keep them in another ten minutes; if they're getting close, check after maybe only five minutes. Spike the temperature when the potatoes are almost done to get some of them nice and crispy; keep it low and slow for creamier potatoes.

Cooked and tasty.

This really is a fairly flexible and forgiving dish, perfect for grilling newbies. Our latest adventure with grill-roasted potatoes went thusly: We started the potatoes on Sear (because I just stuck them in while it was preheating for some reason). The DDH found them when he went to put the pork chops on after eight minutes and some had already burned. He moved them to the cooler side of the grill, turned down the heat, and after another ten minutes they were mostly done. I would have left them on another five minutes, since I like crispy things, but the DDH disagreed, so off they came.

The one at top left looks about right to me.

There you go. Now get grilling!

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