Find Grill Satisfaction With Wisconsin Potatoes
Grilling is synonymous with summertime, when the joy of being outside tempts us to fire up the grill. Grilling is an ideal way to savor the flavors and textures of versatile Wisconsin potatoes. With a wide selection of Wisconsin potato varieties available year-round, there's a potato that's right for your menu.
There are three basic techniques for grilling potatoes that take advantage of the delicious taste of Wisconsin potatoes, so make your choice based on the time you have available and your own preference.
It's easy to remember easy potato grilling styles as the three 'Ps:'
1. Place directly on the grill - you cook the potatoes from "raw to ready."
2. Par-cook (boil or microwave) - you partially cook the potatoes before grilling them. This can be done in advance, and reduces the cooking time on the grill.
3. Packet cooking - in effect, you create an aluminum foil "oven" on the grill.
All three techniques are easy, but each requires some basic know-how to ensure that you grill the potatoes to take full advantage of their great taste and texture. And be sure to cut the potatoes in slices, quarters, wedges or chunks - the larger the size, the longer it takes to grill. Small potatoes, such as round Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes and fingerlings, can be left whole.
Here's a quick description of what you should know about each grilling technique:
- Place directly on the grill: For complete, even cooking use a combination of direct heat and indirect heat - keep the coals banked, so that one side of the grill is cooler and one side is hotter. With a gas grill, keep the heat on one side higher than the heat on the opposite side. You may want to cover the grill for a while, to ensure the potatoes cook all the way through. Coat the potatoes with a little oil and herbs to add flavor and seal the moisture inside. An advantage of this method is that, although it takes a little more cooking time, it is super easy.
- Par cook: To partially cook the potatoes, simmer them in water and drain well. Or microwave them. The key is to pre-cook potatoes until they are just tender. If you pre-cook them too long they'll fall apart or overcook on the grill. You can pre-cook the potatoes in advance and refrigerate them until you're ready to grill. Coat the potatoes with a little olive oil and herbs to add flavor and seal the moisture inside as they cook on the grill. The big advantage of this method: Since you only need to finish the potatoes on the grill, you can add them as you finish grilling meat, fish or other dishes.
- Packet cooking: Simple foil packets actually create a steam oven that cooks the potatoes up moist yet firm. For extra flavor, add herbs, spices or oils, as well as other ingredients, such as onions or peppers, to the packets. Before sealing the potatoes in foil, spread them out so that the pile is an even thickness for even cooking. The advantages of this technique are that it's easy, clean-up is a snap, and when the potatoes are cooked, they can be held off the grill, unopened, for up to 15 minutes, while you finish up the other dishes you're grilling.
Sample different varieties of Wisconsin potatoes to learn which you like best with the meats, poultry, fish and other vegetables that you grill. There are myriad choices in size, texture, flavor, skin color and flesh color. For example: Wisconsin Red-Skinned Potatoes have creamy-smooth flesh, while Wisconsin Blue potatoes have distinctive purple/blue skin and flesh. The always-popular, buff-colored Wisconsin Russet potatoes are great for grilling, and you'll get raves when you serve buttery-smooth yellow Wisconsin Yukon Gold potatoes.
WISCONSIN POTATO GROWER'S FAVORITE GRILLING RECIPES
Compliments of Chef Jerry Garcia, Coast - A Zili Restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
TWICE-BAKED POTATO BOMBS
• 4-large Yukon gold potatoes
• 1- cup chopped bacon
• 1- cup cheddar cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons butter
Start by baking the potatoes until cooked through. Cool and set aside. Cut the top off each potato and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Take the scooped mixture and add the bacon bits, cheese and butter. Mix until smooth and stuff the potatoes. Add the potato top back on and wrap with foil. Heat on the grill for 15-20 minutes under indirect heat.
GRILLED POTATO SALAD
• 8 Medium Red Potatoes
• 2 Large Red Onions
• 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
• 3/4 Cup Olive Oil
• 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
• 1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley
• Salt & Pepper
Microwave the potatoes until they are half cooked. Remove and cut into halves or quarters if they are large. Cut the onions into 1-inch slices, using wooden skewers or large toothpicks to hold them together. Grill both the onions and potatoes over medium heat until they are fork tender and browned. To prepare the dressing, mix the oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Chop the onions and potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and place in a serving bowl. Add enough dressing to coat well, and mix thoroughly. Save the extra dressing for another purpose. Add the fresh chopped parsley and mix again. Serve warm.
GRILLED POTATO STEAK & VEGETABLE SANDWICH
Yield: 4 open-faced sandwiches or 8 side dish servings.
• 4 medium Japanese eggplants (or small regular eggplants), sliced lengthwise
• 1/2-inch thick
• 1 medium Zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
• 1 medium Yellow summer squash, sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
• 1 medium Sweet red or orange pepper, seeded and quartered
• 1/3 cup Olive oil
• 1 small Onion, sliced ½-inch thick
• To taste Salt, black pepper
• 1/4 to 1/3 cup bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
• 1 recipe Grilled Wisconsin Potato Steaks (from previous recipe)
• 4 Tbsp. Grated Gruyere, Aged Gouda, Homestead-style cheese or shredded Fontina, optional
Brush eggplant, zucchini, squash and sweet peppers with some of the olive oil. Skewer onion slices through the sides onto a long metal skewer; brush with some olive oil. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. On uncovered grill, grill vegetables over medium coals for 6 to 7 minutes. Turn; cook another 4 to 5 minutes.
[If some of vegetables cook faster than others, move to a cooler corner of the grill while completing the recipe.]
Place prepared Grilled Wisconsin Potato Steaks on grill; cook "steaks" and vegetables for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until all are tender. Drizzle the eight largest Grilled Wisconsin Potato Steaks with vinaigrette; top with the grilled vegetables. If desired, top each with ½ Tbsp. of the grated cheese. Serve two open-faced sandwiches per person, using smaller "steaks" on the side. Or, serve one open-faced sandwich as a side to grilled meat or poultry.
The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) was established in 1948, and is headquartered in Antigo, WI, where it provides grower education, government support, and consumer education for the 150-grower organization. For more information visit www.wisconsinpotatoes.com