News & Politics

Grilling Hints From Top Chefs

Whenever we ask chefs what they eat at home, the answer is often peanut butter and jelly or "something simple on the grill." Grilling is an easy cooking technique with no-fuss preparation, and the smoke and fire impart flavor. And there's an added benefit, says CityZen chef Eric Ziebold: "There are no sauté pans to clean." We asked local chefs for summer grilling ideas.

Jamie Leeds, chef/owner of Hank's Oyster Bar, likes to cook unshucked oysters on the grill until they just open. Without spilling the oysters' liquid, she pops off the tops and serves them with a swipe of barbecue sauce.

Eric Ziebold makes what he calls "grilled scalloped potatoes." Take one potato per person and slice it thinly across but not all the way through. Lay a pat of cold butter on top and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Wrap each potato in foil and place it on a hot grill for 45 minutes. As it cooks, the bottom of the potato caramelizes and gets crunchy while the top stays creamy.

When chef James Clark grills grouper, salmon, shrimp, or scallops, he soaks them for 20 minutes in brine–one part sea salt, one part sugar, two parts water, a chopped shallot, a chopped clove of garlic, and a handful of fresh herbs like cilantro, chives, dill, or thyme. He then pats the fish dry, seasons it with salt and pepper, and drizzles it with olive oil. Just before he puts it on a very hot grill, Clark seasons the grill by rubbing the hot grates with half an onion that's been brushed with olive oil.

For dessert, David Guas, pastry chef at Ceiba and DC Coast, suggests grilled peaches with honey. Bring a light simple syrup (1 quart water, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup lavender honey) to a boil, then turn the stove off. Add halved, pitted peaches to the syrup, cover, and let them poach until they are just tender, for about 15 minutes. Let the peaches cool, then grill them on each side, basting with lavender honey. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or yogurt.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.