Grilled French Toast on the Grill (DOH!)
"I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." Mae West
Rich boats of bread waterlogged with eggs, laden with fresh fruit, floating in a sea of real maple syrup. Sheer heaven.
Just about the simplest breakfast this side of a bowl of cereal, French toast is the perfect way to start a Sunday morning, or a Tuesday morning for that matter. Or a Thursday lunch. And if you compete on the barbecue circuit, cooking a French toast breakfast for your team will make them warm on the inside and forgive you for making them tend the smoker all night.
French toast should be toasted, not fried in a pan. That's why they call it toast! And French toast on the grill is killer. Here's the ultimate French Toast recipe, a snap to make on a grill.
Yield. 2 large thick slices, enough for one hungry person, or two lightweights
Preparation time. 5 minutes.
Cooking time. 15 minutes.
2 large slices of crusty bread, about 3/4" thick
2 ounces milk (2% or higher fat content is best)
2 tablespoons butter if you use a griddle
1/3 cup pure Grade B maple syrup
About the bread. Use an uncut Italian bread or something with a nice crunchy crust, but not as crusty as a French baguette. Ironic that French bread is too crusty for French toast, no? Challah, brioche, and cinnamon raisin bread are wonderful choices. Keep it to about 3/4" thick or less so the egg in the center cooks until it is safe. The crust adds a nice texture, but just as important, it helps prevent the soggy bread from falling apart. If you use sliced white bread, one egg will do two slices.
About the egg/bread ratio. The rule of thumb is 1/2 egg for a slice of sandwich bread. Large thick slices can absorb up to a whole egg.
About the egg/milk ratio. The rule of thumb is an egg averages 2 ounces, and you use 1 ounce of milk for 2 ounces of egg. You can also use fat free Egg Beaters (R) if you wish. If you'r out of milk you can use water.
Optional flavorings. Whisk in a pinch of cinnamon and 2 drops of vanilla per egg. Go wild and add a pinch of nutmeg and allspice.
About the toppings. I prefer Grade B maple syrup. It is darker, more flavorful, and cheaper than Grade A, and it is infinitely better than the ersatz stuff. Fresh fruit is great on French toast, especially peaches, blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. A sprinkle of confectioner's sugar give it a real downtown look. Some folks like to top it with fruit syrups, honey, Lyle's golden syrup, cane syrup, liqueurs, jams, apple sauce, more butter, powdered sugar, sugar with cinnamon, sour cream, creme fraiche, yogurt, peanut butter, melted cheese, or even baked beans. Use your imagination.
Go savory. Try making French toast with rye bread or sourdough bread and whisk in salt and pepper. Serve savory French toast with without syrup. Just sprinkle on some fresh herbs such as rosemary, tarragon, or thyme, and top with grill-roasted peppers and Italian sausage.
1) Take the chill off the syrup by putting it in a coffee cup and letting it sit at room temp or heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds or in a saucepan on low for 5 minutes. Select your toppings and get them ready.
2) Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon thoroughly in a wide bottom bowl. Leave no streaks, and make sure the cinnamon isn't lumpy.
3) Dunk both sides of the bread in the egg mix for about 20 seconds per side. We want it well saturated. Put the bread on a flat plate. If there is egg leftover, pour it on top of the bread slices and let it soak in.
4) Toasting on grill grates. If you are using charcoal, use fewer briquets than normal and spread them out so they are not stacked on top of each other and so they are not touching. If you are using a gas or electric grill, turn the knobs to medium and when the grates are hot, clean them thoroughly. Oil the grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil or with a silicon basting brush. Put the egg soaked bread on the clean, oiled grates, and stand there. Don't wander away. Check after two minutes. Use a spatula rather than tongs. Depending on the heat of your grill, they can go from beautifully golden to burnt in a minute or two. They are ready when GBD (Golden Brown and Delicious) and the surface no longer looks wet. Don't let them get too hard.
Toasting on a griddle. Crank up the grill to high, heat the griddle, and back it down to just above medium. Add enough butter to coat it well, and when it is melted, place the bread on and press it gently with a spatula so the surface is in contact with the oil. Close the lid and give it 5-10 minutes on the first side until it is golden. The second side should not take as long.
5) Transfer the toast to serving plates immediately and crown it with the toppings of your choice. Serve with coffee.