As promised in today’s Seasonal Pantry, here’s more information about grilling from the Seasonal Pantry’s archives. Links to specific recipes will be posted soon and if you have a request, please post in the comment section and I’ll do my best to get it for you.

How to Build a Fire in an Outdoor Grill

  •  For the best outdoor fire, don’t use lighter fluid, which contributes unpleasant flavors to food and unnecessary pollutants to the atmosphere. It can seem an easy solution, especially if you don’t have confidence when it comes to fire building, but once you get the hang of doing without it, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with it in the first place.
  • If you cook outside regularly, invest in a chimney starter, a metal cylinder fitted with an interior rack and a wooden handle. Without one, it can take a bit longer to get a fire going but the principal is basically the same whether you are using one or not: You stack coals over newspaper, being sure to leave room for air to circulate.

    A commercial starter chimney is helpful, especially for the novice or nervous griller. You can also make one using a large can with both lids removed.

  • To make a fire with the chimney starter, crumple a few sheets of newspaper, put them on the bottom of your grill and set the starter on top, tucking the newspapers within the cylinder.  Fill the top of the cylinder with whatever charcoal you prefer, light the paper and step away. After about 15 minutes, hold your hand about six inches above the chimney; if you feel a good amount of heat, the coals are ready. Holding the chimney by its wooden handle, dump the goals into the grill and use long tongs to move them into a mound, stacking those that are not yet lit onto the ones that are and always leaving room for the circulation of air.
  • To keep the fire going, add several fresh pieces of charcoal when the burning coals are completely covered with ash.

Some Simple Grilling Ideas Without Recipes 

Grilling is, to a large degree, an intuitive process; you must sense when the coals are right and you must judge when foods are ready to be pulled off the fire. No set of instructions can understand the fire in front of you as well as you can understand it yourself. One of the best ways to develop your grilling skills is to simply do it. These foods are all quite easy to grill. Use the vegetables as side dishes or combine them on a single platter for a vegetarian feast. The fruit makes an excellent desserts, served neat or with ice cream. Oysters are an ideal appetizer.

  • Apricots, Peaches & Nectarines: Cut in half, grill cut side down for 3 to 4 minutes, turn, grill 2 minutes more; to serve, sprinkle with brown sugar and a little butter.
  • Bananas: Brush with lime juice, grill for 3 to 4 minutes, turning frequently to make evening; serve with lime wedges.
  • Cabbage: Cut cabbage into 6 or 8 wedges, brush the cut sides with olive oil and grill, cut side down, for 3 to 4 minutes; turn to other cut side and grill 3 to 4 minute more; season with salt and pepper.
  • Corn: Shuck, leaving enough outer leaves to wrap the corn; grill, turning frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes; serve with butter, salt and pepper.
  • Eggplant: Cut into 3/8 inch length slices, brush with olive oil, grill over medium coals until lightly charred and very tender; season with salt and pepper.
  • Onions: Cut peeled onions into 1/2-inch thick rounds, brush with olive oil, grill for 3 to 4 minutes, turn and grill until tender; season with salt and pepper.
  • Oysters: Set oysters on the grill rack cup side up; as soon as they pop open, use tongs to turn them over and lift off the flat shell. Brush with sauce of choice and serve immediately.
  • Pineapple: Peel the pineapple, cut it in half and cut the fruit into 1/2-inch thick slices. Grill until slightly charred and hot, turning several times; season lightly with salt and several turns of black pepper.
  • Scallions: Trim the scallions, brush with a little olive oil and grill, turning frequently, until limp; serve immediately, with lemon wedges or salsa.
  • Sweet Peppers: Grill, turning frequently, until the skins blisters and blacken. Transfer to bowl, cover with a towel and when cool enough to handle remove the blackened skins, stems and seed cores; cut in stripes, season with a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Zucchini: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, brush with a little olive oil and grill, cut side down, for 3 to 4 minutes; turn and grill 3 to 4 minutes more. Season with ground cumin, salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges alongside.