Don't know how Spring is playing out near you, but in New York it seems like we made the jump from cold and rainy to hot and humid with the absence of those sunny pleasant days where being outside presents absolutely no challenges to personal comfort. With the heat comes the constant need to cool down, and perhaps there's no better way to achieve that with maximum seasonal refreshment than lemonade.
Oh, you say lemonade isn't grilled? That's where you're wrong!
I learned this recipe while down in Alabama at the Decatur Riverfest, where my hosts at Kingsford could be found with multiple grills filled with lemons, dumfounding the surrounding barbecue competition teams who were tending to their briskets and pork shoulders.
It's certainly more of a process than the standard lemonade, but that comes with a great build-up of flavor. It all starts with a tray of sugar that halved lemons are pressed down into, covering their cut site with wall of white crystals.
The lemons are then grilled over medium-high heat, cut side down. Lemons naturally pick up a little color on the grill, but with the extra coating of sugar, they become glistening and almost creme brulee crispy in parts, especially around the edges.
After all the lemons are grilled, a pan with water, honey, and rosemary is placed on the grill over indirect heat, covered, and let sit while the lemon squeezing commences. As the water warms on the grill, the rosemary steeps and flavors the liquid with a touch of herbal essence.
Then there's the squeezing, and more squeezing, and more squeezing. The Kingsford team had many hands to help with this part, and I'd recommend the extra help if you're cooking for a crowd and going beyond a single recipe. As the lemons are squeezed, the golden sugary coating goes with it, which gives this lemonade its slightly brownish hue rather than bright yellow.
Finally, the steeped honey and water mixture is added into the lemon juice along with more water and plenty of ice to cool it down. What comes out of all this work is a complex take on lemonade that has a deep and multi-layered sweetness, and touch of herbal flavor, and the standard bit of sourness that pairs great with smoked meat on a hot day. It's pretty awesome on its own, but add a splash of whiskey in there, and now you're talking summertime refreshment of the tallest order.
- Yield 7 cups
- Prep 25 Minutes
- Cook 5 Minutes
- Total 30 Minutes
- 16 lemons, halved
- 1 cup sugar, plus more add needed
- 5 cups water, divided
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all 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 sugar in a medium-sized disposable aluminum pan. Dip each of the lemons, cut side down, into sugar. Place lemons on grill, cut side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from grill.
- Add 2 cups of water, honey, and rosemary to pan with sugar. Place pan on grill and whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from grill and discard rosemary sprigs.
- Squeeze lemons into a large large bowl. Pour in honey and sugar syrup and 3 additional cups of cold water and stir to combine. Add additional water or sugar to taste. Transfer to large pitcher, pouring through a fine mesh strainer for a smoother lemonade, if desired. Add in ice to cool, then serve.
Adapted from Kingsford.
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Chris Good stuff! My last batch turned out ridiculously dark, I still don't know what happened there. It looked as dark as tea.
Mike J Awesome idea and really a unique way to flavor up lemonade. Shame on me for not thinking through the side effects of carmalized sugar dripping down the inside of my grill. Next time will definitely do some preventive maintenance with some tinfoil.