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August 30, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The weather will soon turn chilly, and summer fruits and veggies are going out of season, but there’s still time to fire up the grill and get ready to enjoy the fall season’s bounty.
Columbia chefs Louis Marrero of Addison’s and Daniel Pliska of University Club say comfort food is key in the fall, and it can be grilled to perfection in your own backyard.
Marrero learned his craft by working hard in the kitchen, old-school style, but he also loves to get away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant and grill when he’s at home. Marrero notes that corn, tomatoes, summer squash, melons, berries and peaches are all summer produce, so they might be difficult to find or more expensive as the season changes.
In the fall, look for fresh apples, pears, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and pumpkins, all of which can be grilled to achieve that delicious natural grill flavor. Although Marrero is a fan of using seasonal ingredients, he maintains that grilling is so fun because you can grill anything.
Pliska, who has 32 years of culinary experience, including 14 years at the University Club, is also a master when it comes to grilling. He says there are two primary methods: direct and indirect. Direct grilling is used with thin cuts of meat over a really hot fire. Vegetable kebabs, fish and pork chops are generally prepared using the direct method, and they should be thoroughly marinated to reduce charring.
“Indirect grilling is when the fire is started and you put what you’re grilling away from the fire to create a slow cooking process,” Pliska says. “That’s how you smoke foods. In the fall, I like to do brine-smoked chicken because you can slow cook it, and you don’t have to worry about getting roasted in the heat yourself.”
Marrero prefers to grill on charcoal rather than over a gas flame. If he’s looking for a smoky flavor, he likes to soak wood chips in water for about 20 minutes, then place them in a foil pack. He pokes several holes in the foil and puts it directly on the charcoal to give the meat or vegetables a smoky flavor. Soaking the wood chips keeps them from burning and allows them to produce ample smoke.
Pliska says that successful grilling is all about the basics: “Know your grill, understand that marinating and seasoning are important, as are types of cuts and how to cook them. Good quality food and good technique is all it takes.”
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 oz. pork chop
3 Fuji or Granny Smith apples
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
>Grill the marinated pork chop until black grill marks appear.
>While the pork chop is cooking, slice the apples. Place them on the grill until char marks appear to give them a little flavor.
>In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add apples and brown sugar.
>Allow the apples to heat by tossing them around. Then add enough spiced rum to cover almost halfway. The rum will catch on fire, which means the alcohol is cooking out, but the fire will go out by itself. Continue to simmer the apples until thick.
>Add chili powder.
>Pour candied apples over pork chop and enjoy.