Grill Favorites from Indy Chefs

Grab your apron and a beer, and fire up the grill for these seasonal dishes.

STARTER | Grilled morel toasts with smashed peas and quick pickled spring onions

Get the party going with this multifaceted dish by Brandon Canfield, who recently left his post as executive chef at The Loft Restaurant at Traders Point Creamery. Dish prepared by Toby Moreno. Makes 4 servings.Pickled onions

  • 1 bunch spring bulb onions
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Peel and thinly slice the whites of the onions. Combine with the sugar and salt. Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drain, but do not rinse. Set aside.

Smashed mint peas

  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 mint sprigs (no stems), minced small pinch cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Blanch the peas in salted water until tender (about 1–2 minutes) and immediately shock in ice water. Drain well.

In a small bowl, combine peas, lemon zest, mint, cayenne, and salt. Smash with a wooden spoon or food processer until the peas become pasty and start to smooth out but still look chunky.

Add oil and mix until completely incorporated. Set aside.


  • ½ pound morel mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon juice to taste

Heat grill to medium-high. Rinse mushrooms very well. Drain and dry with a towel. Toss mushrooms in olive oil. If they are large enough, place directly on grill grate. If smaller, a grill pan is best. Cook until they start to give up a little moisture and soften. Remove to a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

Assemble on baguette

  • 1 baguette
  • 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ pound Traders Point Creamery feta
  • chopped herbs of your choice

Reduce grill to medium heat. Slice baguette into quarter-inch pieces. Rub generously with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grill until they have a little crunch and color on the surface, but are not dried out inside. Some charred corners are fine. Remove and let cool slightly.

Smear the grilled bread with the smashed peas, top with the spring onions, cooked morels, and feta. Garnish with chopped light herbs like parsley, tarragon, or arugula.

MAIN DISH | Flat-Iron Steak and Pomelo Salad

Pomelo saladRyan Nelson, chef/owner at Late Harvest Kitchen and The North End BBQ, created this recipe after tasting a similar dish in Thailand years ago. It’s got a kick, but the pomelos balance the heat of the chiles. Nelson prefers the flavor and texture of the flat-iron cut, although you can use any steak you’d like. Makes 4 servings.Steak 

  • 2½ pounds flat-iron steak

Generously season the steak with salt and pepper. Grill it on a hot grill to medium-rare or until its internal temperature reaches 120–125 degrees. (Due to the cut of the meat, the steak needs to be cooked medium-rare; anything under or over will be chewy.) Once cooked, remove from heat and let it rest for three minutes. Slice the steak, across the grain at a 25-degree angle. Reserve the slices of the steak.

Pomelo salad

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head bok choy, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and crushed
  • 2 large pomelos (grapefruit works, too), peeled and segmented
  • 8–10 mint leaves, chiffonade
  • 14–16 cilantro leaves, torn

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and Thai chili pepper. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Place the slices of steak in the dressing, making sure the dressing covers the meat. Let stand for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, combine the bok choy, peanuts, pomelo, mint, and cilantro. Add the marinated steak and dressing, and toss well. Arrange the salad on a large platter and serve immediately.

ON THE SIDE | Grilled asparagus & honey-glazed beets with fromage blanc and walnut-herb pesto

Grilled asparagus and honey-glazed beetsThe sweet earthiness of the beets complements the fresh, almost bitter crispness of the asparagus in this side by Brandon Canfield. Black walnuts and herbed pesto tie the two together. Prepared by Toby Moreno. Makes 4 servings.Black walnut–herb pesto

  • ¼ cup black walnuts, toasted
  • ½ bunch parsley leaves
  • 3 sprigs tarragon leaves
  • Dime-sized bundle of chives
  • ½ cup sorrel, packed (arugula works, too)
  • 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup canola oil

Combine walnuts, parsley, tarragon, chives, sorrel, water, vinegar, and salt in a food processor. Blend for six seconds, until herbs are rough chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With machine running, add oil in a steady stream. Taste and reserve until ready.


  • 2 pounds yellow or candy-stripe beets
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Pre-heat grill to medium. Scrub the beets well—no need to peel them. Slice into disks half-inch thick. Toss the beets in honey, olive oil, and salt.

Lay the beets directly on the grill grate. Allow to get slightly charred and caramelized before flipping and finishing (about 12–15 minutes.) You may need to reduce the heat or move off the coals to finish cooking. Set aside.


  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Adjust heat to medium-high. Trim the asparagus, and coat with olive oil and salt. Grill over medium-high heat until the color turns bright green and a little bit of the tip starts to char. Remove from heat while the spears still snap.

Assemble with shaved radishes and fromage blanc

Arrange beets on a platter, place asparagus on top, and drizzle pesto over the platter of grilled vegetables. Add radishes. Dot with cheese, crack some black pepper over the top, and serve.

DESSERT | Cornbread Pain Perdu with Grilled Fruit, Charred Corn Puree, and Hickory Syrup

Cornbread pain perduFinish the night off with this juicy plate—created by Tinker Street’s Braedon Kellner—that combines sweet and savory flavors straight from Indiana’s fields. Makes 4 servings.Grilled peaches

  • 4 peaches, ripe
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Heat the grill to the hottest setting. If using a charcoal grill, rake the coals into an even mound. Clean and oil the grill.

Halve peaches, and brush the cut side with olive oil. Season with pepper.

Place peaches on the hottest part of the grill, cut side down. Cook 3–4 minutes, turn peaches 45 degrees, and let cook another 3–4 minutes. Set aside.

Cornbread pain perdu

  • ½ cup butter
  • 23 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cream
  • 13 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan.

In a saucepot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Add the eggs, and rapidly whisk until well incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk and baking soda.

Add the cornmeal, flour, salt, and tarragon. Stir until blended and only a few lumps remain. Transfer to baking pan.

Bake 30–40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool completely. Cut into 12 two-inch squares.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, egg yolk, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk well to combine.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter until it begins to foam.

Working carefully, coat the cornbread in the egg custard and cook each side for about one minute or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with
paper towel to absorb excess butter.

Smoked berries

  • 8 oz. hickory chips, soaked in water
  • ½ pint blackberries
  • ½ pint raspberries
  • ½ pint strawberries, quartered

Set up the grill for smoking, or place the hickory chips in an aluminum foil pouch and poke a few holes in the top. Place pouch over the fire.

Smoke berries in a grill basket for 15 minutes, being careful not to cook them.

Charred-corn puree

  • 3 ears of corn, cleaned
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pinch salt

Heat grill to medium-high. Rub the corn with canola oil. Cook for 25–30 minutes or until the corn is softened and charred on the outside. Set aside and let cool.

Remove the corn from the cob, and in a saucepot combine the corn, cream, butter, and salt. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Puree in a food processor until smooth.

Assemble with fresh tarragon eaves and ShagBark hickory syrup 

Spread a spoonful of the charred-corn puree on a plate. Place three cubes of the cornbread pain perdu on the puree. Add some of the smoked berries to the side of the cornbread. Cut the grilled peaches into thirds and arrange on the plate. Garnish the dish with a sprinkle of fresh tarragon leaves and a drizzle of hickory syrup.



Home 2016 CoverThis article appeared in Indianapolis Monthly Home, a 2016 special publication.