If you’re thinking canned fruit cocktail, think again. Almost any cutup fruit can be tossed with syrup and chilled. Grilled fruits add a welcome flavor dimension in the form of caramelized sugar. Use any fruit you like, preferably a mix of acidic fruit such as citrus and sweet fruit such as pears. Here, we combine blood oranges, pineapple, peaches, pears, and sweet cherries in a ginger-almond scented syrup. Whichever fruit you choose, grill it in large pieces and then cut it into smaller pieces before tossing it with the syrup.
Prep: 30 minutes
Grill: About 10 minutes
Chill: About 10 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– About 6 skewers (soaked in water for 20 minutes if bamboo)
– Long-handled spatula or tongs.
Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (400° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 8 TO 10 SERVINGS – ABOUT 6 CUPS)
2 to 3 blood oranges (10 to 12 ounces total)
2 cups water 22/3 cups sugar
One thumb-sized knob gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 small pineapple (3 to 3½ pounds)
2 fairly ripe freestone peaches
2 fairly ripe pears
Juice of ½ lemon
6 ounces sweet cherries, such as Royal Ann, stems removed Oil for coating grill grate
8 mint leaves, for garnish.
1. Remove the zest from the oranges in strips, and put the zest in a small saucepan. Add the water, sugar, ginger, and all-spice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the almond extract, and let cool to room temperature. Strain into a large bowl. At this point, the syrup can be refrigerated for up to a week or left at room temperature for several hours.
2. Heat the grill as directed.
3. Remove and discard the white pith from the oranges (your fingers or a paring knife will work best here). Break the oranges into segments and skewer them lengthwise so that the segments don’t fall through the grill grate.
4. Cut off the spiky top and ½ inch from the base of the pineapple. Stand it upright and cut downward around the fruit to remove the peel and eyes. Cut lengthwise into quarters and slice off the core from each quarter. Set aside 2 of the quarters for another use (they can be refrigerated in a zipper-lock bag for up to 3 days and are great for snacking). Cut the remaining quarters crosswise into wedges about 1 inch thick.
5. Halve the peaches from the stem end to the blossom end and twist to separate the halves. Remove and discard the pits.
6. Peel, halve, and core the pears using a small melon baller. Immediately brush or rub with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
7. Pit and halve the cherries.
8. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the skewered oranges and the pineapple, peaches, and pears on the grill (peaches and pears cut-side down). Cover and cook until nicely grill-marked on both sides, 2 to 6 minutes per side. The oranges will take less time; the peaches and pears should be tender and will take longer. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay at around 450°F.
9. Remove the fruit to a cutting board. Dip the peaches in ice water for 1 minute, then peel off the skin while they are still warm. Let the fruit cool to room temperature, then cut into small pieces. Add the grilled fruit and cherries to the syrup in the bowl and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
10. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to martini or wine glasses and let stand for 20 minutes to take off the chill. Garnish with the mint leaves before serving.
– Vary the fruit: Replace the oranges with other citrus like tangerines or pomelos. Replace the pineapples with kiwi and the peaches with plums, nectarines, or apricots. You could also make a more tropical fruit cocktail by using papaya and mango.
– If you can’t find fresh cherries, use about ¾ cup halved maraschino cherries (stems removed).
– If you can’t find whole pineapple, use half of a peeled, cored golden pineapple. These are usually packed with pineapple juice in plastic tubs in the refrigerated produce section.
– After serving the fruit cocktail, use any leftover syrup to brush onto cakes or to serve with crêpes or pancakes.