It’s pretty common knowledge that pickles go with both hamburgers, pulled pork, Chicago hot dogs and assorted barbecue meats and grilled items in general.
They’re a MUST on any relish or garnishment tray.
There’s just something magical about the flavor combination of savory and sour, sweet and sour and the pickling spices, that blend the flavors of both meat and pickles together so well.
So, it shouldn’t be a shock that the idea of actually grilling the pickles themselves, either before or after brining, is a pretty intriguing idea.
What is it about char-grilled foods that make them taste SO good?
Is it the caramelization of natural sugars, the slightly smoky aroma and taste, the appealing colors?
Maybe it’s the combination of all 3.
But it works.
As a back story, it’s rather common to see roasted or grilled vegetables on restaurant menus nowadays.
Vegetables such as asparagus, bell peppers, beets, carrots, onions, cauliflower, green beans, brussels sprouts and summer squash all are great candidates.
So, it’s easy to see why grilling your vegetables either before or after pickling them, isn’t such a far-fetched idea.
Actually, when you think about it, it’s a pretty unique and tasty twist.
Grilling before you place your veggies in the pouch.
Grilling vegetables before placing them in your pickle pouch gives your brine an additional touch of that char-smoky flavor and color. In addition, there’s no need to fire up the grill after your pickles have fully matured in their brine. Just unzip the pouch and enjoy.
We do recommend a couple tips:
- Grilling will slightly cook and soften your vegetables. As a result, we recommend you cut your vegetables just a bit thicker so that they will keep their texture during and after pickling. That’s especially important with pickles.
- Use a hot grill and lightly spray both your vegetables and grill grates just before placing the vegetable on the grill. This will give you the color and flavor you want without having to leave them on the grill until they are fully cooked.
- Have tongs and or a metal spatula ready to go. This will allow you to turn your vegetable effectively and prevent them from burning. Which is not good.
- Save the juices. As you’re grilling, remove the finished grilled vegetable to a platter and allow them to chill a bit before placing them into your pouch. When you do, be sure to scrape all the great juices you collect into your pickling pouch, along with the vegetables. The juices are some of THE best stuff.
Grilling after your veggies have been pickled.
The advantage of grilling your vegetables AFTER they are pickled is that you can then grill only what you wish and leave the remainder un-grilled.
Their flavor will be a more pronounced pickling brine but the char and subtle smokiness will still be there.
The slight disadvantage is that unless you char-grill them ahead of time, you’ll either have to wait for them to chill OR, enjoy them hot, right off the grill… And they’re great that way too.
- As you’ll be taking them out of a brine solution, we recommend you pat them dry before grilling them. This will reduce the tendency of them to stick to you grates.
- Similar to grilling fresh vegetables before pickling, vegetable spray, both on your pickled vegetable AND your grill grates, is a must.
- Your vegetables are already a bit softened during their pickling. It’s especially important to use a hot grill and be very careful not to overcook them.
However you choose to grill your vegetables, consider the process to be an additional flavor element, similar to the seasonings that are already in the pouch or, the vinegar you choose when you pickle them.
Grilled vegetables go especially well as part of a charcuterie tray of selected salumi and sausages, whole grain mustards and toasted baguette slices.
And you can’t go wrong chopping a medley of colorful grilled and pickled vegetables to make a delicious version of our Giardiniera recipe which you can find here.
Exploring the many unique ways to use vegetables and the Great Lakes Pickling Pouches is always something we enjoy sharing.
Stay tuned for more tasty tips and recipes as the summer of 2023 continues.