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Barbecue University™

Barbecue for Breakfast

It’s 6 a.m., Chappaquiddick Island, Martha’s Vineyard. My favorite time of day. The sun has just risen, spilling golden flames over the horizon. The wind rustles the treetops, and in the distance I can hear the surf hit the shore at Norton’s Point. My family is asleep. The phones are mercifully silent. It feels like I’m the only person awake on the island.

So I do what any barbecue-obsessed male would do at six in the morning. I fire up my grill.

“Barbecue: it’s not just for breakfast anymore.” I found this line in the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cookbook, and it serves as a reminder that while most of us grill for lunch or dinner, breakfast is a damn fine excuse to light your grill, too.

If you think fried or baked eggs are good, wait until you try them infused with wood smoke. If you like bacon sizzling from the frying pan, wait until you try it hot off the grill. (Added advantage here—you keep the spattering fat off your stove.) If you cherish peace and quiet, try a grill session at the break of dawn.

Grilled Bacon

So how do you grill for breakfast? Let me count the ways.

  • You grill toast over a charcoal or wood fire. (Hey, the grill was the original toaster. Think Italian bruschetta—bread “burned” over a wood fire.) Garlic may be a bit rude for breakfast, but you can certainly rub the hot toast with a cut ripe pear or peach and butter.
  • Indirect grill frittatas or Dutch pancakes, tossing a handful of apple or cherry chips on the coals for an unexpected whiff of wood smoke.
  • Grilling gives bacon an awesome crisp-chewy texture while removing some of the excess fat. Warning: When you grill bacon, you’re bound to get flare-ups, so work over a moderate fire and always leave at least half your grill grate food free so you can move the bacon away from the flames. For the best results, use a thick-sliced artisanal bacon—one brand I like is Nueske’s.
  • Finally, remember that fresh fruit you’re supposed to eat several servings of daily? Cut ripe nectarines, peaches, pears, or plums, brush with melted butter (or coconut milk or honey) and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar or turbinado sugar (also called “Sugar in the Raw”). Do the same with 1/2 inch thick slices of pineapple, watermelon, or oranges. Direct grill over a screaming hot fire just long enough to caramelize the sugars, but quickly enough to keep the center of the fruit raw and moist.

Have YOU ever fired up the grill to make breakfast? Details, photos, and recipes please! Post them on the Barbecue Board and make us hungry at daybreak.

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