If you think that grilling a potato sounds like a trick process, just remember that you can literally cook a potato by wrapping it in tinfoil and throwing it into an open fire. While grilling potatoes can, indeed, be that simple, there are other techniques that people can employ for making some grilled potatoes that could compete with gourmet food.
Potatoes are very versatile foods and can be enjoyed in many different ways. They’re also versatile in the sense that you can cook them about a million different ways. For this reason, potatoes are great options for people who are new to grilling, or hoping to expand their experience grilling different type of food.
So why doesn’t everyone grill their potatoes?
There’s one main problem that’s commonly associated with grilling potatoes. That problem would be getting the inside of the potato cooked without managing to burn the outside. However, this problem is quite easily remedied, and the resulting potato will have a whole new level of flavour.
How to properly grill potatoes
There’s a couple different techniques that you’re going to want to employ over your potato-cooking career, particularly if you plan on using different kinds of potatoes or if you’re cooking other food with the potatoes. You can adjust the basic recipe with your own spices, extra salt/pepper, or more oil if you want. Before long, you’ll have your own personal method perfected!
1. Par-cook your potatoes before grilling them
Though this kind of defeats the ability to cook your potatoes entirely on a grill, this is also a good idea for someone who’s never cooked potatoes on a grill before. Doing it this way allows you greater control over the cooking process. Some experienced potato grillers still prefer to do thi method because it changes a couple things.
- It cuts down on the actual grilling time, which is great if you’re cooking a whole meal on the grill. You can cook your food on the grill and par-cook the potatoes elsewhere, so as soon as your other food is finishing up, you can throw the potatoes on the grill and they’ll be done within minutes.
- Since the potatoes are already cooked, all you really need to do with the grill is sear them so they get an appealing crust. This should be done over direct heat and shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes.
- You don’t need to cover the grill so you can cook the potatoes at the same time as other food that can’t be covered, such as steak.
- This is great for people who prefer to cook by visual instead of by timer, since you can actually decide the potatoes are done when they look done.
This method is great for denser potatoes, like the Yukon Gold variety or most red potatoes. This is because dense potatoes can take quite a long time to cook solely on the grill and, for most purposes, that’s really not practical.
2. Cook the potatoes entirely on your grill
This is for people who don’t want to deal with the precooking process and have more space or time available to use their grill for potatoes. This technique takes a bit more finesse and dedication, but the result is a very creamy potato with a crispy skin.
This can be done on both gas and charcoal grills, but we recommend charcoal. You’ll be using both direct and indirect heat.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, when setting up your coals, make one side higher/more densely packed than the other, so you’ll have one side reaching a higher temperature than the other.
- If you’re using a gas grill, heat up one side to medium high and the other to medium low.
Remember that you’ll need to plan your meal in advance. You’ll be covering it to cook these potatoes, and since they take a while to cook, you’ll probably be cooking them for longer than anything else you’re making.
Start off by cooking the potatoes on the higher temperature, but don’t let them burn. Then move them over to the cool side and let them sit there until they’re done.
3. Grilling potatoes in tinfoil
This is basically the same as the ‘tossing a foil-wrapped potato into a fire’ method that we mentioned earlier, but it’s a little more hygienic and takes a bit longer.
The deal with this method is that the tinfoil traps the potato’s own moisture in with it, which allows you to blend flavours and cook them quicker than the previous method. You can also include the herbs and spices you might add to a baked potato and put them in with the potato in the wrapper, so the flavours absorb.
All you have to do is make sure they’re tightly snug in the foil and then put them on the grate, directly over heat, for about 40 minutes. You can put more than one potato into the same foil wrap to save yourself from having to wrap multiple potatoes. Make sure the coals in your grill are about 5 inches away from the grill, but not much closer or they’ll burn.
You’re going to want to flip them after about 20 minutes, when they should be beginning to char on the bottom. Again, make sure the grill remains closed to preserve the atmosphere and their flavour.
The result will be very moist potatoes that are almost creamy. You can choose to further spice them afterwards – garlic, dill, cilantro, anything that goes good on a baked potato will go even better on a tinfoil-wrapped potato.
It’s best to start these before cooking your main course because you can take it off before they’re done without compromising their flavour. These mean you can get them three quarters cooked, then cook your main course, then throw the potatoes back on for another 15 minutes so everything’s ready at relatively the same time.
Grilling potatoes is a bit of a lengthy process, but hey – anything related to potatoes usually is. This method, however, can accommodate many methods of making potatoes and provide you with a better tasting result than more conventional methods.