Grilling Tips: Epicurean Classic’s Diane Morgan

Diane Morgan, the self-named 20-pound-charcoal-bag-haulin’ ma’am, the backyard grill party gal, and the smokin’ Thanksgiving-turkey-on-the-grill queen, shares tips with us from her new book, Grill Every Day: 125 Fast-Track Recipes for Weeknights at the Grill (2008 Chronicle Books). Catch her at the 2008 Epicurean Classic in Traverse City.

Any secrets to transforming weeknight chicken breasts into something delectable?

One of the simplest things to do with breasts or thighs is to combine Dijon mustard and some olive oil to make a paste, add freshly ground pepper and dried tarragon—I bruise it between the palms of my hands first. Slather this on the chicken and you’re good to grill.

What are some foods that people might not expect to benefit from time on the grill?

Romaine or baby bok choy.

Your favorite go-to rubs?

Espresso-cardamom rub with fresh espresso, salt, dark brown sugar and hot paprika. People think, Wow, that’s weird, but it picks up a molasses-y caramelized flavor, so you don’t really know that it’s coffee. Make it on a lazy weekend and have it on your pantry shelf.

What about grilling the fruits that are ripe in September?

Pears are terrific. Scoop out the cores with a melon baller, brush them with butter before the grill. After they come off, spoon over currants you’ve soaked in cognac and a little bit of black pepper.

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