Many apartment balconies have room for a full-size barbecue grill — though some can barely accommodate a small one. Compact grills are great for simple things like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings, but with a little creativity, they can also be used to create more high-class meals with that fetching smoky flavor and charred taste that are fit for entertaining in style all summer long.
To make kebabs on a small grill, simply cut the skewers a little smaller than the diameter of the grill itself. Skewer chunks of onions, bell peppers of assorted colors, and the meat or poultry of choice. Be sure to oil the grate well to prevent sticking, and lightly brush the food with olive oil for extra flavor before you salt and pepper it.
Pro tip: Instead of alternating the kebab foods on each skewer, try placing the onions, peppers, and meat/poultry on separate skewers. Since each food takes different times to cook, this method helps ensure that everything is just right before you take it off the skewers for serving.
Grilling fresh fruit brings out the natural sugars in it, and transforms it into a delectable side dish. Pineapple slices and watermelon wedges are especially delicious grilled, as are all kinds of stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, and plums. Just cut the fruit in half, remove the stones, and place each piece cut-side down on the grill grate. Watch it carefully, though — it only takes a few minutes over the coals, and overcooking makes it a little too mushy.
This may sound really difficult to pull off, but it’s easier than you think. Start by dividing fresh pizza dough (homemade or store-bought) into small rounds and flattening them into disks. Place these in a hot, well-oiled grate for a few minutes a side to give them enough body to hold the toppings. Use minimal sauce to let the toppings take center stage. Cut the vegetables and meats small so they cook quickly and top with shredded cheese. Cover the grill with the vents on the lid wide open. For best results, use a pizza peel to remove the pizzas and keep a close watch on them. The heat inside the grill is intense, and the pizzas really only take a few minutes to cook through.
Salmon cooked on cedar planks is absolutely divine — and one of the easiest grilled entrees ever, to boot. For a small grill, just cut the planks in half; two should easily fit on the grate. Keep a little salt, pepper, and freshly cut lemon nearby so you can squeeze it on right before serving, and you’ll realize why it’s called “king” salmon. Serve with parboiled miniature red or Yukon gold potatoes grilled in between the salmon planks. For a special treat, whip up some fresh tartar sauce and serve the salmon on a bed of tossed greens to round out the feast.
Almost any protein cooks perfectly in foil packets placed on the grill, and they all take minimal space on the grate. Start by laying out 6 X 8 inch squares of heavy-duty foil or double layers of regular foil. Add thinly sliced potatoes to the bottom, followed by zucchini rounds or broccoli florets. Then top with boneless chicken breasts, raw shrimp, or thinly sliced filet mignon. Season to taste, wrap each packet up tightly and securely to avoid leaks, and grill them all covered for 10 to 15 minutes. A perfectly-cooked meal couldn’t be easier to make (or more scrumptious).
Regular spareribs are usually too big for a small grill, but boneless ones aren’t. In fact, “boneless” ribs are actually pork butt or shoulder simply cut into rectangular rib shapes. Cook them over moderately hot coals, turning them often. Hold off on the sauce until the final turn so it has just enough time to glaze them but doesn’t burn and ruin that tantalizing taste.
Corn on the Cob
Grilled corn on the cob is a summertime favorite, especially if it’s the height of corn season. Remove the shucks and silks and place the corn over a medium-hot fire. If the ears are too long, cut them in half. Turn them frequently to get all the kernels lightly toasted but not blackened. Slather with butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and top with freshly-grated Parmesan. The best part is that any leftovers you have can be made into an excellent base for a roasted corn salad the next day.
Grilling sausage over a hot fire transforms it from simple to sublime. Cut each sausage in half to maximize grill exposure, adding smoky flavor to each and every bite. Grill some bell peppers and onions on the side, and you have the makings for the best hot Italian sub sandwich you’ve ever tasted. Alternatively, you can serve all these ingredients on top of a healthy swirl of al dente angel hair pasta.
S’mores cook just as well on a barbecue grill as they do in a campfire bed. Sandwich plain chocolate bars and mini-marshmallows between two graham cracker squares, wrap tightly in foil, and grill 10 to 15 minutes until the chocolate melts and the marshmallows are gooey.