Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
When it comes to the grill, we know how to make hot dogs and hamburgers.
So what can we do to expand our grilling boundaries? How can we transform our backyard barbecues into something we have yet to imagine? I asked a few Valley chefs to share the most interesting things they've cooked up on the grill lately as inspiration for our next cookout.
Chef Chaz Frankenfield, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown
A chorizo-stuffed suckling pig on my backyard grill for my father-in-law's 80th birthday. The process took about five to six hours, but the whole neighborhood could smell the wonderful aroma of this feast. The shock value of opening the grill cover to my guest was priceless!
Michael O'Dowd, Chef and Owner, Renegade MOD
I grilled snake on the grill after marinating it for 12 hours. I just wanted a mesquite essence and got the bite I was looking for.
Chef Monte Healey, Del Frisco's Grille
Brunch is always fun to do on the grill. Grilled fruit, French toast, frittatas -- you can cook just about anything on the grill with a little imagination and the right equipment. Definitely invest in a good wire basket if you plan on grilling up veggies, fruit, or other smaller items that could fall through the grill gates.
Jared Lupin, Chef and Partner, Umami
Sriracha cheesecake with a fortune cookie crust.
Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown, Province
One thing I love to make on the grill is lamb leg. Typically, lamb leg is roasted or braised, but I've found that cooking it on the grill with a tasty marinade is a great way to have it.
Josh Hebert, Chef and Owner, Posh
People look at me crazy when I grill lettuce, but I grill a lot of radicchio, romaine, and frisée during the summer months.
Christopher Gross, Chef and Owner, Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Foie gras It gets a nice smoky flavor and is great on a hamburger or salad. Delicious. Or how about kebab of polenta and foie gras?
Chef Paul Steele, Phoenix Public Market Cafe
I've used basil wood to smoke mussels, vegetables, and fish. It adds a level of smokiness that's difficult to explain but imparts a flavor profile that's somewhat sweet. When you taste the dish, it's like taking a deep breath of freshly picked basil. The stalks must be thick and really dry, and it takes a lot of wood because it burns so fast. The only place I've found that offers basil wood locally is Maya's Farm.
Guido Saccone, Chef and Partner, Cibo
I did some marinated baby octopus on a spiedini (skewer) the other day that was delicious on the grill. I also like to grill fruit, like peaches and pineapple, when they are in season. And, of course, pizza.
Chef Chris Knouse, The Wigwam
I've made a grilled Five Alive knock-off. Five Alive is a citrus drink made by Minute Maid, now only widely available for purchase in Canada and the UK. It contains orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, and lime. I cut the fruit in half, grill it flesh side down, then juice it. Grilling it adds a nice smokiness to the drink.
Aaron Eckburg, Owner, Go Lb. Salt
Bacon-wrapped basil banana bites, Hachiya persimmons, and Asian pears on Himalayan salt blocks. My dry-aged beef is pretty killer, too.
Chef Ben Mulé, Hidden Meadow Ranch (Greer)
Utilizing the grill for smoking purposes is one of my favorite methods of cooking. I place a small box filled with fruit wood over the top of the grate, fill it with the freshest fish available, and smoke away. Serving it warm for service or chilling the product for a cold dish later are great options.
Bryan Dooley, Chef and Owner, Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue
Pig snoots, which is actually the snout and jowl of the pig. Lots of crispy skin and a little meat.
Bernie Kantak, Chef and Partner, Citizen Public House
There is an amazing cheese called halloumi that doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's made from goat's or sheep's milk with a high melting point that allows you to grill or fry it without it turning into a gooey mess. It tastes like feta and mozzarella's bastard love child, and the char from a grill takes it to another level. I serve it grilled with watermelon, mizuna, Persian cucumbers, and lemon mint vinaigrette. It just screams summer.
Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Cafe
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Grilled vegetable cake. It rocked. Proud of this one.