Grilling can bring out the best in many fruits, intensifying the flavors and caramelizing the natural sugars. And they’re not just for dessert: fruit can be incorporated into drinks (Grilled Sangria), appetizers (Bacon-Grilled Dates), and even condiments (Pineapple Salsa). Grilled fruit can play all the roles.
Here are some of my favorite ways to expand your grilling repertoire by bringing fruit to smoke and fire. These recipes will challenge your taste buds and “wow” your party guests with show-stopping presentations:
Spice-Grilled Pineapple with Mezcal and Whipped Cream Pineapple was the first fruit I ever grilled and it remains a Raichlen family favorite. The key is to grill over a hot fire so you caramelize the sugar while leaving the fruit raw and juicy in the center. In place of the spiced sugar, you can also use my Dessert Rub, which works equally well on grilled peaches, plums, bananas, pears, and apples.
Burnt Oranges with Rosemary This recipe comes from a book we greatly admire, Francis Mallmann’s Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way. The steps may be simple, but the resulting texture and flavors are intense and complex.
Grilled Sangria Kick sangria up a notch by crusting the fruit with sugar and caramelizing it on a screaming hot grill. It’s a smoke and fire twist on a refreshing favorite.
Deconstructed Bananas Foster Fruit meets fire in this spectacle of a recipe by using a blowtorch to flambé the dessert tableside. It’s a dish that truly looks as good as it tastes.
Baked Apples Stuffed with Sausage and Sage Baked and sautéed apples are the traditional accompaniment to pork throughout New England. So why not take this traditional combination and turn it into a smoke-roasted appetizer, with a neat presentation on the grill using grill rings? For a more traditional dessert-oriented spin on the baked apple, try these Fire-Roasted Apples.
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Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Project Smoke on public television. His web site is BarbecueBible.com.