Onions on the Grill

Late July but it’s forty-five degrees and raining. It feels like snow is on the way. Even the bears have taken cover. We are huddling around a fire in front of a primitive cabin on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. For a fire pit someone long ago hauled rocks up from the shore. There is a blackened grill balanced on the rocks, and on the grill are six aluminum foil packages looking like giant Hershey’s Kisses. Chuck is roasting onions.

When we were making the list of things to buy for that fishing trip to Alaska oh so many years ago, Chuck, the camp chef, (not me) included five pounds of onions. As the new guy in the group, I asked whether five pounds might be more than we needed. The gang told me that we needed at least that many. “Chuck is a genius with onions. You’ll see.” And I did.

Here is how Chuck cooked onions on the grill on Afognak Island.

INGREDIENTS:

Onions (about 3 inches in diameter are best)
Butter
Seasoned salt

PROCEDURE:

Plan on one onion for each hungry fisherman. Cut off the tops and bottoms and peel the outer layer from each onion. Make two right angle cuts in the top of each onion; don’t cut the onion in quarters, but cut deeply enough that you can open the top of the onion about a half inch. Put about two teaspoons of butter in the opening and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Wrap the onions in aluminum foil, finishing off the wrap by twisting it into a “handle” on top. Set on the grill over moderate heat. Cook about 20 minutes.

NOTES: If you have used enough aluminum foil, you will end up with onions that look like big Hershey’s Kisses. We like onions on the grill when we have hamburgers or steaks. I put the onions over the edge of the coals about ten minutes before starting the meat and use the “handles” to rotate the onions so they cook without burning. Larger onions need to cook longer.

Blue Steaks

Whoever first had the idea of combining blue cheese with chopped beef must be memorialized in a museum of culinary arts somewhere. If not, he or she should be. The combination is wonderful. I first had this steak at a small supper club near Eagle River, Wisconsin in the summer of 1961. I made my first blue steaks about three weeks later when I went home to visit my family.

The steaks were not a great success. My father, though born and raised in Wisconsin, didn’t like cheese, my mother thought that all hamburger should be fried until it withered in defeat and back then my sisters didn’t like anything I cooked. But if I do say so myself those blue steaks were almost as good as the one I had at the supper club, so I kept making them.

There are many recipes for hamburgers garnished with a blue cheese sauce and a few with blue cheese fillings that include ingredients such as garlic, onion, sour cream and various spices. I have eaten such, and they are often quite tasty, but in this instance I think that simpler is better. I like to make these large enough to serve as a steak, six to eight ounces. Could we call them diet blue burgers?

INGREDIENTS

Extra lean ground beef
Blue or gorgonzola cheese
Steak seasoning

PROCEDURE

Size the steaks according to appetite. For each steak, make two thin patties of meat. Put a layer of blue cheese in the center of one patty, top with the other patty, seal the edges well and sprinkle lightly with steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Grill over charcoal to the desired doneness; for medium to medium well, grill three to four minutes on one side, turn over and grill another three to four minutes. Serve with a garden salad, baked potato, and fresh green peas for an elegant, inexpensive dinner.

NOTE

Let diners add more seasoning or steak sauce if they wish. One nice thing about this steak is that you can vary the amount of cheese to suit individual tastes. For an eight ounce steak, I use about two tablespoons.

When it is cold and nasty outside, I fry these delicacies in a hot cast iron skillet coated lightly with cooking spray. They still taste pretty good.