Ever wondered how to cook fresh beets on the grill?
Probably, not, but beets can be cooked on the grill as many other vegetables and fruits. What makes them especially good on the grill is that the dry heat of the fire sears the beets, and seals in the moisture as well as the flavor.
If you want to surprise your guests, try these recipes - barbecued beets are an easy and interesting side dish to prepare.
You can grill beets raw, but when they’ve been blanched, or cooked until half done, and then marinated for several hours the beets take in optimum flavor. Also, when they are blanched, beets will cook more quickly and evenly than when you grill them raw.
How to grill raw beets
Wash and peel the beets cutting off the green stem, then slice them into 1/4-inch slices. Brush beets with oil and lay on the grid for 20 to 25 minutes over a medium-hot fire. When the beet slices are tender, they are done.
How to pre-cook fresh beets for grilling
To pre-cook, scrub the beets well, and boil without peeling in water to cover until you can just pierce them with a paring knife, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their size. Remove the beets with a slotted spoon, and drain them in a colander lined with paper towels.
To blanch the beets, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to boil. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes. Line a colander with paper towels. Plunge the beets into boiling water. When you can pierce them with a paring knife (about 4 minutes for small beets), remove the beets with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water for fifteen seconds, to stop the cooking. Then transfer to colander to drain.
Marinating and grilling
Marinate blanched beets (let them soak in a dressing or marinade) or baste (brush them with the marinade just before and /or during grilling) depending on how much flavor you want the vegetables to absorb, and what texture you want in the end. The more time a beet spends in the marinade, the more flavors it will absorb, and the more tender it will become. If basted, grilled beets take on a hint of flavor and tend to stay crisp.
When the blanched beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Soak in the marinade for up to eight hours or, to preserve a fine beet flavor and for a crispier texture, simply baste them with marinade before grilling on high heat until tender, about 8 minutes.
Beets can be placed in a grill basket, or on a grid designed for vegetables. Vegetable grids are metal cooking surfaces with small holes to keep small food like vegetables and delicate food like fish from falling through the grate. These grids are available at any store that sells grills or grill equipment.