I've been sitting on this sweet and spicy grilled pickles for years now, ever since I interviewed pitmaster Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson and he gave me a jar of these fantastic pickles with a recipe.
I don't know what took me so long. I guess I was waiting for the proper canning tools but these can really be made from quick pickles, so no excuses.
Grilling the pickles prior to canning is an interesting prospect. It adds a bit of grilled flavor, but mainly creates a spear that is both crisp and soft—great middle ground to settle any dispute between people at opposite ends of that pickle debate.
The pickling liquid here strikes a nice balance between sweet and spicy, with dill and garlic playing more minor roles in flavor. In the end, you have a lot of contrast of flavor and texture packed into these incredibly delicious little spears.
- For The Brine:
- 1 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 5 large cucumbers, cut into 4 to 5-inch spears
- 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/2-inch disks and skewered horizontally
- 6 sprigs dill
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 3 sanitized canning jars with lids
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: high
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and red pepper, whisking until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place cucumbers and onions on grill. Cook cucumbers until lightly browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cook onions until charred on both sides and slightly softened, about 4 minutes per side. Remove cucumbers and onions to tray. Quarter onions.
Place 2 sprigs of dill and 1 teaspoon of garlic in each jar. Divide cucumbers and onions equally between each jar. Pour in pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch of headroom between liquid and top of jar. Refrigerate for 1-2 days before eating for quick pickles, or process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal lids, then store in a cool, dark place.