Thu 18 Oct 2018
Read other related stories: Cheese , Gas Grill Techniques , indirect cooking , Salad
A WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Taking a page from Chef Alice Waters, we are making our version of the baked goat cheese salad by wood baking the goat cheese rounds on the grill using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks for smoky flavor. Then making garlic crostini for the croutons on the charcoal grill to serve alongside this fabulous salad dish. A recipe that can be a salad course or an entrée on its own, we also give you an easy way to make this into an appetizer. Purchase 12 ounces of quality goat cheese in log form and let’s get grilling.
Marinate to Start
This dish requires at least 8 hours of marinade time though I like to do mine overnight. It’s the marinade of oil and fresh herbs that give the goat cheese great flavor. Cut the goat cheese log into ½-inch rounds. In the bottom of a glass dish, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs of your choice; today I’m using oregano but most any fresh herb will do. Place the goat cheese rounds into the dish and pour over a ¼ cup of olive oil. Turn the cheese rounds over to coat both sides. Place fresh herb sprigs over the top of the rounds, cover with wrap and marinate in the refrigerator.
Tasting Notes: Other fresh herbs work great with this recipe but note that stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary likely don’t need the layers of chopped herbs at the bottom of the dish. Simply lay the fresh herb springs on top of the goat cheese rounds and marinate in the refrigerator.
Grilling with Wood Chunks
Once the goat cheese has marinated, it’s time to coat it in a mixture of ½ cup plain breadcrumbs and two teaspoons dried herb of your choice. I’ll be using oregano but other good options include thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary. Once coated on both sides, place the cheese rounds on a lightly greased shallow pan. I’m using mini sheet pans as they work well on the grill, even for a two-zone cooking method.
As this is a cheese dish it is important that a two-zone cooking method is used which means the cheese will be going on the unlit side of the grill. I’m using a smoker box with three hardwood chunks to provide the smoke flavor to the cheese, with the box placed on the hot side of the grill. Total time to cook will be about 20 minutes. You’ll know the cheese rounds are ready once browned and bubbly.
While the cheese is on the grill, prepare the vinaigrette by combining ¼ cup red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Whisk in ½ cup of olive oil and set aside.
Greens and Garlic Crostini
To go with the goat cheese rounds and salad vinaigrette, I’m making garlic crostini on the charcoal grill. Using ½-inch slices of a day-old baguette, brush both sides of each slice with melted butter. Place on a high heat tolerant sheet over hot coals only, no active flames. Allow the slices to brown and slightly char before turning over. Once browned on both sides, remove from the grill and brush with the cut side of a garlic clove. I cut these crostini slices in half at the diagonal to go with the salad.
Tasting Notes: An assortment of fresh greens can be used for the salad though I like to use a combination of bitters with more savory greens.
Assembling to Enjoy
With all the components made its time to assemble our salad. Start by mixing the vinaigrette with the greens. I like to place the garlic crostini on the outside of the salad and the wood-baked cheese rounds in the center of the greens. This is best served while the cheese is warm. Here’s another suggestion: this can make for the perfect appetizer if you cut each round in half so they fit on a garlic crostini. For that recipe, prepare the same but place a few leaves of salad on the garlic crostini and top with a wood baked goat cheese half round. There you have it! A super easy salad or appetizer with that signature wood flavor that takes Chef Waters’ recipe to a new level.