Over the three-day weekend, I partook in no less than three barbecues. Barbecuing being the most quintessentially American method of food preparation, I figured it was the least I could do to honor U.S. servicemen who make sacrifices so much braver and more meaningful than me clumsily sacrificing a pineapple slice to the ground while using wonky tongs to transfer fruit from grill to plate.
Sole pineapple loss aside, I enjoyed celebrating my freedom in the company of beloved friends and family as we stuffed ourselves full of charred food and chilled booze.
When it came time for dessert, it only made sense to marry the black and booze flavors and watch them dance sloppily all over the pineapple.
Plain ole grilled fruit is among the simplest desserts, both in preparation and cleanup. Slice, grill, eat. Surprisingly enough, adding an absolutely stellar cinnamon-bourbon glaze doesn’t complicate the process much. Seriously. For two of the three barbecues, I made the glaze in the microwave in just a few minutes, and for the third, it took just a few minutes more on the stove.
And yes, that reference did mean that I prepared this same grilled dessert for all three barbecues. I’m a sucker for anything containing bourbon. But that aside, the grilled and glazed pineapple was so simple and got such rave reviews at the first (and decidedly foodiest!) get-together that I couldn’t help myself.
For a finger-licking addictive glaze (literally; my friends dipped their grubby appendages right in), I spiked brown sugar and an olive oil-butter combo with bourbon, and then added cinnamon, cloves and cayenne for a spicy, smoky flavor that stood up to and complemented the sweetness of the grilled pineapple. After a few minutes boiling in the microwave or on the stove (or grill – try it! let me know!), the mixture thickened into the texture of a caramel sauce.
I poured the hot glaze over the pineapple immediately, tossing to coat, and left the coated slices on the counter until the grill was ready. Some might call it a marinade; I’ll just admit I took the easy road – a little extra cinnamon, bourbon and brown sugar leeching into the fruit never hurt anyone, right? A greyhound or two and a grilled steak later, I tossed the pineapple slices on a searing hot grill while the steak rested, basted it with the glaze a few times, flipped it once, basted twice more, and dessert was done.
Grilled Pineapple with Cinnamon-Bourbon Glaze
To make this vegan, skip the butter (it adds a nice richness to the glaze, but isn’t entirely necessary; add more sugar to thicken, if needed).
1 pineapple, top and bottom removed
1/2 c. bourbon
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
Cut body of pineapple into 6 slices of even width. Halve each slice. Set slices in a baking pan or platter that’s a few inches deep (so the glaze won’t spill later, and for easy transport to/from the grill).
Mix remaining ingredients together in either a saucepan or a microwavable dish that’s double the volume of the glaze ingredients (ensures the glaze doesn’t spill over as it bubbles up). If cooking in a saucepan on the stove, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stir, and continue to boil until sauce thickens into a glaze, about 5 minutes. If cooking in the microwave, cook for 3 minutes total, stirring after the first and second minutes (in the final minute, watch closely to ensure glaze doesn’t bubble over). Note: I usually taste the glaze after the butter has melted, and then again another minute into the process; this gives me a chance to adjust the seasonings to taste before I’m stuck with the final product.
Do ahead: pineapple and glaze can be prepared up to this point one day in advance and stored in an airtight, refrigerated container; glaze may need to be reheated for a minute or two if sugar re-crystallizes at all.
Pour glaze over the pineapple slices so it acts as sort of a marinade.
Once you’re ready to grill, preheat the grill until it is very hot (test the heat by holding your hand 1 inch over the grill rack; if you can only hold your hand there for 1-2 seconds, it’s at the proper temperature). Grill pineapple slices, basting periodically with the glaze, until charred grill marks are visible on the pineapple, about 5 minutes per side. Remove pineapple from grill, drizzle with any remaining glaze, and serve warm. Vanilla ice cream optional.