The days are getting longer, the weather’s warming up and the grill is calling your name. This year, make outdoor dining even easier by stepping out of the kitchen and making your sides right alongside your burgers and hotdogs. We’ve asked corporate chef Eric Dougherty to share his favorite sides for the grill, along with cooking tips, below.
Side Dish: Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Asparagus
For this side, you’ll need a bunch of large raw asparagus and thick-cut, smoked bacon. Use a knife to trim the bottom inch off of the asparagus (the thicker end), and roll one half of a piece of bacon around each individual asparagus. After wrapping each piece of asparagus in bacon, place the asparagus on the grill with the loose side of the bacon facing the grill grates. Grill the asparagus until the bacon is slightly charred (approximately two minutes), then move each piece to a higher shelf on the grill. Let the asparagus cook on the top shelf of the grill for approximately three more minutes, or until the asparagus lightly tender and the bacon is golden brown.
Chef’s Tip: Dougherty recommends cooking your asparagus above the meat you’re grilling so that the bacon fat drips down onto the meat for additional flavor.
Side Dish: Grilled Pineapple
Using a sharp knife, trim off the top and bottom of a large, whole pineapple then trim off the thick exterior of the fruit, making sure to remove the eyes (small brown spots) and seeds. Put the pineapple on its side and slice it into rings approximately ¼ inch thick. Very lightly pat the pineapple with a paper towel to remove excess juice, then place the pineapple rings onto lightly oiled, cleaned grill grates. Grill the rings for approximately three minutes on each side, making charred marks on both sides of the rings. Once grilled, set them aside and let them rest until they come back down to room temperature.
Chef’s Tip: He recommends serving with a dish like barbecued chicken or pork.
Side Dish: Pepper, Tomato and Onion Kabobs
Remove the top and core of a large pepper (of any color) and cut into ½ inch squares. Open and drain a can of Hunt's® stewed tomatoes. Trim and peel an onion (any kind you prefer) and also cut into ½ inch squares. Slide the cut vegetables onto skewers, alternating pieces of pepper, tomato and onion, leaving ½ inch of empty skewer on either end. Brush the skewers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place the kabobs onto the grill and rotate every two minutes until the vegetables are lightly charred on the outside. Move the skewers onto a higher shelf or cooler spot on the grill until the vegetables are tender but not soft, another three to five minutes.
Chef’s Tip: If you’re using wooden skewers for the kabobs, soak skewers in warm water for 30 minutes prior to cooking to prevent burning on the grill.
Side Dish: Mexican Corn
Perfect for a summertime fiesta, you’ll need whole ears of fresh sweet corn and your favorite spicy seasonings for this recipe. Peel off the very outside leaves of the corn, leaving the tender, lighter leaves in tact around the cob. Soak the ears of corn in warm water for 30 minutes then drain and place on the grill on medium high heat. Grill the corn until all the leaves are charred around the outside but not blackened, approximately eight to ten minutes. Let the ears rest for three to four minutes then peel the leaves off and remove the corn silk. Brush the corn with either olive oil or mayonnaise then season with paprika, chili powder or cumin (if desired) and sprinkle on your choice of Parmesan, cotija or queso fresco cheese.
Chef’s Tip: Serve this side with finely chopped parsley and fresh lime wedges.