Sweet ‘n’ spicy does it | NevadaAppeal.com

Sweet ‘n’ spicy does it

Associated Press

A trio of grilled-fruit dishes: front left, Spicy Island Grilled Pineapple; front right, Sweet and Spicy Fruit Skewers; rear, Fire-Roasted Stuffed Pears. McIlhenny/Tabasco photo

It’s hard to run out of variations on the theme of grilling fruit. Apart from technique – what fruit you cook, how you handle it on the grill – there’s the flavor.

Fruit doesn’t mean only sweet, perhaps not even only dessert. Sweet sometimes is better with a little spice. Here are three easy ways to prove that idea, using fruit of your choice, quickly grilled, for summer eating.

Why grill a piece of fruit when you can simply slice it in half and serve it as is?

The answer is that grilling caramelizes the natural sugar of fruits, which makes them sweeter and more flavorful. It also softens their texture and helps fruits to release more juices. Stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and plums, do particularly well on the grill. They’re firm enough to be placed directly on the cooking grate and sturdy enough to remain intact when turned over for charring.

Fruits are apt to pick up unwanted flavors from the grill, so it’s especially important to clean the grate before placing the peaches on it. They’ll cook quickly, so a brisk, hot fire is best. Keep a close watch: A little smoke and charring are good, but the natural sugars in the peaches are prone to burning. Too much blackening will result in a bitter taste. As soon as grill marks appear, turn them over to finish cooking. The peaches are done when the flesh is soft and tender.

If you plan to make dinner on the grill as well dessert, you’ll want to keep the fire hot enough to cook the fruit after the main entree is served and eaten.

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Keeping the grill hot doesn’t pose a problem for gas grills because they can be easily turned off and then fired up again for dessert. Charcoal grills, however, call for planning.

Bruce Mattel, associate professor in culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America, offers the following advice on keeping the fire hot while serving dinner: “Cover the grill and close the vents three-quarters to minimize air circulation. This should maintain the proper temperature to cook the peaches if you get them on the grill within a half an hour.

“Warm from the grill, the sweet, tender peaches provide a flawless complement to the cool ice cream and lemon-scented cookies,” he adds.

Sweet and Spicy Fruit Skewers

12 wooden skewers, each about 6-inches long

3 medium ripe purple plums, each cut into 8 wedges

2 ripe medium peaches, each cut into 8 wedges

2 T. green jalapeño pepper sauce

1 T. honey

2 teaspoons grated ginger

Soak skewers in water to prevent burning, at least 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium.

Toss plums, peaches, pepper sauce, honey and ginger in large bowl. Skewer 4 wedges of fruit on each skewer. Grill 5 to 8 minutes, turning once and brushing with any leftover mixture.Makes 4 servings.

Serving suggestion: Serve as a dessert or as side dish with pork, chicken or ribs.

Spicy Island Grilled

Pineapple

1 large ripe pineapple

1 T. fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1Ú2 cup granulated sugar

1Ú2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat grill to high.

Remove skin from pineapple; core and cut into 1Ú2-inch-thick slices. Combine lime juice and hot pepper sauce in small bowl. Combine sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowl. Brush both sides of pineapple with hot pepper sauce mixture; dip into cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat well. Grill pineapple slices 8 to 10 minutes, turning once until golden on both sides. Serves 4.

Serving suggestions: Serve pineapple as a dessert with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Or serve it as a side dish with pork or chicken.

Fire-Roasted Stuffed Pears

4 large ripe pears

1Ú3 cup chopped walnuts

3 T. brown sugar

3 T. butter or margarine, softened

3Ú4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1Ú4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Hot pepper sauce

Preheat grill to medium.

Cut off tops of pears, 1 inch below stem; set aside. Core pears with spoon or melon baller; leave a cavity for filling. Combine walnuts, brown sugar, butter, hot pepper sauce and cinnamon in small bowl. Place one drop of hot pepper sauce in cavity of each pear. Spoon walnut mixture into each cavity; top with pear stems. Place pears on greased 9-inch square of heavy-duty foil. Carefully place on grill; roast until pears are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes, depending on ripeness of pears. Makes 4 servings.

(All preceding recipes developed for AP by McIlhenny/Tabasco)

Grilled Peaches

4 ripe, firm peaches, cut into halves and pits removed

1Ú4 cup granulated sugar

2 T. lemon juice

4 cups vanilla ice cream

1 cup Raspberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat a gas grill to high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a light coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed.

Toss the peaches with the sugar and lemon juice.

Grill the peaches over direct heat until tender in the middle and well marked, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Serve the peaches over the vanilla ice cream, topped with the Raspberry Sauce, and garnished with the Citrus Crisps. Makes 8 servings.

Raspberry Sauce

1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen

1Ú2 cup granulated sugar, or to taste

1 T. lemon juice, or more to taste

Combine the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, about 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Add additional sugar and/or lemon juice to taste, if desired.

Serve immediately, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Makes 2 cups.

(Recipe adapted from The Culinary Institute of America’s “Grilling” cookbook, Lebhar-Friedman, 2006, $35.}