One of my family traditions takes place every fall on the rocky lakeshore of beautiful Lake Superior in northern Minnesota. One evening during my extended family’s annual vacation, in what my dad calls "God’s country," we pack up all our dinner supplies and bring them down to the beach for an old-fashioned steak fry.
A couple of hours or so before the meal my dad builds a fire on the beach. His first step is to the bury potatoes my mom has prepared and wrapped tightly in aluminum foil in the stones beneath where he will build the fire. The logs are carefully placed, lit and tended until they burn down to just the right point for cooking the steaks. All the while the potatoes are cooking from the heat held by the stones beneath the fire.
My mom prepares the potatoes by slicing each into about 4 pieces. Then she inserts slices of onion between each piece of potato and wraps them tightly in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil.
We each cook our own steak using sticks my dad has whittled while he tends the fire. When the steaks are cooked to our liking my dad shovels away the stones to uncover the potatoes. Nothing tastes better than those potatoes topped with creamy butter and a little salt and pepper – pure bliss!
Now, I will confess we had a disaster (at least in our eyes) one year when the potatoes must have been too close to the fire because when we eagerly unwrapped our much awaited treasures we found them burned and inedible – what a disappointment. At least we can laugh about it now.
While I can’t provide the rocky beach, the sound of Lake Superior waves or the majestic view, I can provide a recipe that will give you a taste of these awesome potatoes. Blue Cheese Grilled Potatoes produce a similar experience right in your own home. They can be made on the grill or in the oven. Although we don’t add blue cheese to our potatoes when we cook them in the fire pit, I think blue cheese is good on or in just about anything so am all for including it in this recipe. If, on the other hand, you don’t like blue cheese, just leave it out.
I will be walking through the grill preparation method because it most closely resembles the fire pit experience. Feel free to use the oven directions included at the bottom of the recipe for Blue Cheese Grilled Potatoes, they work great too.
Begin by preparing your grill. I use my gas grill because it is so convenient, I just turn it on and it’s ready to go. Of course, you can use a charcoal grill. My guess is it will provide results even closer to the fire pit method. You will want your coals to be ash white.
While the grill is heating stir the butter, blue cheese, parsley, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
Cut the medium baking potatoes in half lengthwise. For each potato, use one fourth of the butter mixture to spread on the cut sides of both halves.
Slice the onion so it’s ready to go. I like to use sweet onions like Vidalia, Walla Walla or Maui if they are available. Their sweeter flavor taste great in this recipe. But, any kind of onion will do. Place the sliced onion on top of the halved potato.
Then put the potatoes back together.
Next wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil. The recipes calls for heavy duty aluminum foil. I would definitely use it as it works best to protect the potatoes and is less likely to rip or tear. If you don’t have heavy duty foil use at least two or maybe even three layers of regular foil.
Be sure to tightly seal the top and sides so none of the wonderful butter or blue cheese leaks during cooking.
Place the potatoes on the grill. As they cook, be sure to turn the potatoes every 15 minutes so they cook evenly. Tongs will make turning easy.
It will take about an hour for the potatoes to cook and become fork tender. I typically let each person unwrap their own potato, but remind them to be careful because the potatoes are hot and will release steam as they are unwrapped.
These Blue Cheese Grilled Potatoes are soooo good. Don’t hesitate to try the oven method – they turn out delicious too. Just add a steak for a complete meal.
I would enjoy hearing about any "cooked over the fire" foods your family makes. Let me know what you think of this recipe by rating and reviewing it after you give it a try.
Come back in a few days when Mallory will share a great Sauté Express recipe.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.