Nelson chef Jamie Hertz shares tips for stone grilling
There is no doubt that summer’s over now. When I woke up on October 1 the leaves had started changing colour almost overnight. The days are going to be cooler and the nights colder, but that’s no reason to lower your spirits. For all of us that like to play in the snow, it means that we should be getting our winter toys out and priming them for what’s ahead.
Just because the winter is upon us doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be outside enjoying what last days we have with our barbecues. We should be looking to maximize every day we have with them until it becomes too cold to bare.
A dear friend of mine has gotten into stone grilling for his family and I thought that this would be a great topic of conversion for this week’s column.
There are many different kinds of stones that could be used for this and it all depends on personal preference. I like to use a lava stone as opposed to marble or slate, and the reason for this is it simply holds its heat longer and keeps the flavours carrying over to the next meal. A good quality stone should hold its heat for about 30 minutes once it’s removed from the main heat source.
Stone grilling is one of the oldest known methods of cooking and has many health benefits, but is only starting to make a comeback over the last decade or so. Unlike a frying pan you don’t need to use oils to help food from sticking to the stone. As the heat simply releases itself from the protein when ready to. All of the unwanted things such as fat in whatever you are cooking drains off and leaves you with a healthier, low-calorie meal.
Using a stone can allow you to be a lot more creative with your barbecue and can make your meals a little more enjoyable. Instead of just cooking proteins and veggies try cooking a pizza on your stone while it’s in the barbecue. It will give an amazing under layer of flavour to your pizza and it will taste so much better. When you make your pizza try to think outside the box as well and use something like asparagus, prosciutto, and buffalo mozzarella.
Another thing you can do and this is by far my favourite method for the stone, is to heat it up as much as possible in your oven or on your barbecue and then cook your dinner right on the dining room table.
Just make sure you have a cork board or something to absorb the heat. While the stone is heating up you can thinly slice your beef, pork or even fish and place it on a plate with veggies. Once the stone is hot enough, everyone can gather around and take turns cooking and serving.
This is a great way to spend an evening with your family and friends as you are forced to take your time and enjoy eachothers company, as well as have some fun with each others cooking abilities.
Just remember you want to keep everything thinly sliced so that it can actually cook properly and develop some nice flavours before you lose your heat.
To add to the depth of your meal try marinating everything the night before and don’t be shy to experiment with different flavours.
It can be something as simple that may spark the interest of your inner chef and could even turn into a tradition with your family.