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The 5 Biggest Mistakes That Home Chefs Make When Grilling Potatoes

Outdoor barbecues just lend themselves to preparing potatoes in different ways than you might on the stovetop or by baking potatoes in the oven. And when the temperatures are sizzling, who wants to heat up the kitchen with the burners turned on or the oven building up to 400 degrees just to bake an Idaho® russet for an hour? So, desperate times call for desperate measures. While we never recommend baking potatoes in foil in an oven (as it steams the potato and makes the skin wet) it’s OK to bring out the foil for the BBQ grill.

So, desperate times call for desperate measures. While we never recommend baking potatoes in foil in an oven (as it steams the potato and makes the skin wet) it's OK to bring out the foil for the BBQ grill.

  1. It still takes a long time to bake potatoes in an outdoor setting. Often the first mistake is to place potatoes directly on the main grill surface. The potatoes will brown and completely dry out before ever cooking. Use the upper shelf of the BBQ grill and start them way before the steaks or corn or baked beans.
  2. No foil... yes, use foil. However, add additional moisture to the potato. Three examples: Accordion potatoes, sometimes called Hasselback, are wonderful on the grill. Cut the length of the potato into several vertical slices without going thru the potato completely. Roll the potato in olive or canola oil and dried spices such as sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper and ground herbs (try sage, rosemary) and then insert a chunk of butter and maybe bits of fresh garlic in between each slice. Seal in foil and bake. Another favorite way is to wrap the potatoes with large chunks of onions and butter. The moisture from the onions and the oil or butter just adds to the flavor of the potato. Finally, try the same trick with onions or shallots and butter, but cut the raw potato in half, then each half into four long strips These steak fry size potatoes with the added moisture when steamed in foil are wonderful.
  3. Hasselback-Potato-GratinCutting up a potato and then cooking it later is almost always going to have the potential for a visual disaster with the spuds turning gray from extended exposure to air. They may taste great, but don't look so pretty. The solution is to cut them right into a bowl of chilled water; you can even add ice cubes. Take this tip one stage further and add a little acidic solution to the water to keep those potatoes from turning gray. You'll only need a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Or, take the easy way out (hey, it's summer, so relax) and add a tablespoon of concentrated lemon juice to a gallon or less of water for the potatoes to soak in till you are ready to use them. That citrus solution also works on keeping cut slices of bananas or apples from turning brown.
  4. Using raw chunks of cut potatoes for a kabob on the grill will work, but you can often end up having the other kabob vegetables that are less dense in texture be overcooked by the time the potatoes are done. An easy solution is to cut up the potatoes in a single layer on a plate and place them into the microwave. You'll have to experiment with the timing to cook them just enough to be tender and easy to pierce with a wooden skewer but not so done that they fall apart while making the kabobs. Another tip if using wooden skewers is to soak them in water before threading the meat and vegetables on the sticks to help prevent the wood from burning. For the microwave start out in 1 1/2 to 2 minute intervals.
  5. Trying to bake a large potato in the BBInstead, pre bake in the microwave and finish off in the BBIf you are only doing a couple of baked potatoes, the method of microwaving for 5-6 minutes and then wrapping in foil to put in the BBQ speeds up cooking time.