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Chef offers expert advice on grilling fruit

August 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Chef Taylor Boudreaux of the Napa Valley Grille offers a "how to" when it comes to incorporating grilled fruit as part of your menu. And while you can grill most anything, he suggests choosing firm yet ripe fruits of summer.

"I think the rule starts with how soft or hard the fruit is because the softer the fruit, the more it's going to break down during the grilling process," Boudreaux said.

With figs, simply cut the tops and bottoms off, quarter them and put directly on the grill. With apricots and peaches, dust the fruit with a little lemon juice and a little bit of sugar to prevent discoloration and to heighten the flavor, Boudreaux says.

"Sugar helps in the carmelization process, which is what gives you those great grill marks," Boudreaux said.

Of course, you're looking for good taste, but if you really want to get the most out of your fruit's antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, you want to add a bit of fat to the mix for best absorption.

Boudreaux says butter is king, so brushing a bit on summer's bounty gets a thumbs up from the chef - or add the fat as part of the plate. The chef says you can make a nice starter with grilled apricot and figs, burrata cheese, thinly slice prosciutto, with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzle topped with micro basil.

Boudreaux grills on medium high heat to sear fruit's exterior quickly while keeping the body of the fruit intact. You can grill then chill to stop the cooking process for things like salads.

He also grills pineapple for a salsa with shishito peppers, cilantro, red bell, grapefruit and lime - a great mate for fish like halibut. Peaches are a perfect pair for this restaurant-quality osso bucco.

Whether it's a cool summer salad or a hearty protein plate, firing up fruit is one sweet solution.


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