By PAUL SIDORIAK
Cooking on the grill brings out flavors and tastes that constantly amaze me. It’s not that I have anything against making dinner on the conventional cook top or even in the oven, but the grill brings a sneak attack of flavor that pots and pans seldom provide.
I like to experiment with what the grill does to make food taste better, and how I can use that to my advantage whenever possible. Spices, seasonings, marinades, rubs, and smoke come to mind as way to kick up a flavor profile but sometimes a hot grill and good ingredients prevail as the secret weapon in making a dish extraordinary.
Lately, we have been embracing a lower-carb menu and I was thinking of a way to present a bratwurst which would make me forget all about the bun. I thought a play on cole slaw, a warm cole slaw of sorts, would be a fun change of pace and could just fill the bill. My thought was to wilt the cabbage on the grill and then give it a dunk in blue cheese dressing just before service for a warm, grilled cole slaw effect. What I ended up making was entirely different.
I took a head of cabbage and cut it in half and then down to quartered wedges. The wedges had a thick, fibrous stalk in the middle which I removed and discarded.
I wrapped the wedges in raw bacon and began to engineer a vessel out of foil to cook the cabbage. I figured a couple of sheets of foil would be a little more sturdy and act as a good heat shield so I laid two identical pieces down on the work surface.
I placed the wedges in the center of foil like a couple of cub scouts sitting in a canoe. Basically, I fashioned around the cabbage a boat with a sturdy bottom, thick walls, and an open top. I figured that the three walls of foil around the bacon would help it cook and the sunroof on top would let in flavor while letting out steam.
The cabbage canoe went on the raised grill grate over direct heat at about 350F and roasted for a good 45 minutes. As anticipated, the bacon roasted around the cabbage wedge, imposing its smoky, salty flavor on the otherwise listless cabbage. A combination of flavorful bacon juices and grill magic transformed the cabbage into a sweet, robust salad of enhanced flavors. When I cut into the wedge, the cabbage was easy to cut thru without being a wet, puddled mess.
The inner cabbage was browned, almost caramelized. Its nutty sweetness locked horns with the salty, crisp bacon. The combination of the two different flavors is nothing short of grill magic. Tough to explain, but easy to enjoy.
As a side dish, Bacon Wrapped Cabbage Wedges don’t get much easier to make. What started out as accompaniment to a main dish, these bacon wrapped cabbage wedges ended up stealing the spotlight. The wedges got gobbled up so fast they did not even last long enough to become cole slaw. They were so good, I don’t really remember what else was on the menu.
Check out Paul’s other tasty grilling recipes for summer (or any season!) in his blog archive.
Paul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products.
Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden, where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.
You can read more of Paul’s grilling recipes at his blog site, Grilling Montana.