World champion pitmaster Chris Lilly makes us wish we lived in Alabama, where he heads the grill at Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Cue. His new book, Fire and Smoke: A Pitmaster’s Secrets is full of the knowledge you’ll need to finish first in this season-long grilling contest. Yup, it’s a contest. Win it with something really innovative, like these grilled sweet and spicy pickles.
What are grilled pickles? They do sound odd, but trust me, they’re delicious! You take cucumbers and onion, grill them until they have a good amount of smoke and char, and then make homemade quick pickles with them. They’re really beautiful and make excellent gifts. When people come to dinner, I like to set the pickles out in the center of the table as a sort of centerpiece—they’re so much better than flowers because you can eat them!
- 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 10 small cucumbers (4 to 5 inches long), quartered lengthwise
- 1 medium onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 6 sprigs dill
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 3/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups water, the vinegar, sugar and salt.
- Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside.
- Build a charcoal fire for direct grilling and preheat it to 500°F.
- Grill the cucumbers over the hot coals until they char and slightly soften, about 2 minutes on each triangular side.
- Grill the onion slices until they char and slightly soften, about 2 minutes on each side.
- Divide the cucumbers and onions among 3 hot sterilized pint jars.
- Add 2 sprigs of the dill, one-third of the garlic and 1 1/4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes to each jar.
- Pour the pickling liquid evenly into each jar and tighten the sterilized lid.
- Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
- Serve chilled. The pickles will keep refrigerated for 4 weeks.
Find pickled vegetable recipes on Food Republic: