Up From The Ashes
So, we've had whole chickens cooked under the dome on my Weber grill, steaks briefly sizzled over coals, and lamb chops that flare dangerously when the fat hits the fire. Corn cooks to lightly blackened perfection in just a minute or two on the grill, asparagus improves its nuttiness when exposed to the flames and, just yesterday, I had the idea to try smoking some fruit to see how that would taste.
Our friend, Jeanne, had sent us some cedar grilling papers in a little care package last week, and I thought they'd work to impart some smokiness to the fruit while still protecting it from the heat of the charcoal, so I wrapped some dark, sweet cherries in one packet and some just-ripe white nectarines in another.
The instructions said to soak the papers for a few minutes in water and that was good advice. Even over the hottest coals, the papers did no more than blacken along the edges to produce that divine smoke. The packets were strong and pliable going on the grill but crisp and delicate coming off.
And the contents did get that sweet smoke flavor! They also became soft as silk, literally melting in the mouth, and concentrated with sweetness. The cherries stained the inside of the cedar paper a brilliant red, and I was able to pour out a drizzle of dark, sweet juice as well. The cherry pits slipped easily out and the nectarine skin softened to velvet, just barely firmer than the melting texture of the fruit.
We had roasted a turkey breast on the grill along with the fruit, so we used the cherries and nectarines as a kind of fresh "cranberry" sauce for the meat. We got the smokiness from the turkey as well as from the fruit garnish, and the combination was a memorable one.
What shall I wrap and grill next? Any ideas? Maybe cheese, for a smoky appetizer? What do you think?