Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Out of the Coals: Fire Roasted Onion Relish

After putting a match to the charcoal chimney, half-full and ignited via the political section, I settled into my BBQ chair for aafterfocus_1354050574485 little smoke watching. We here at the pit, we like charcoal chimneys for lighting our coals. There is something very right, and therapeutic, you might say, about crushing up a few poignantly chosen pages of the daily news , or possibly even junk mail that you so despise, and with glee in your eyes, shoving it up the bottom end of your old chimney starter. And then oh what glory it is, beneath beautiful skies and casting sunbeams, to set it cordially aflame. An act of small rebellion. Symbolic in smoke. And a giddy signal to yourself, and your neighbors too perhaps, that another outdoor cook is underway. That we are brethren of the coals, and that we are doing precisely that which is well with our souls.

I shifted my weight slightly in the chair, sipping a lovely pit beverage, as I watched the smoke curl. A pleasantry I’ve long become accustomed to in the pit. Sunbeams dappling through the Cottonwood leaves. The smell of tomato plants in the pit garden. But the tweety birds were all but missing tonight, not sure why. Perhaps there was a tweety bird festival down town or something, and they all went to that. Marching the sidewalks there for bird rights or something. I don’t know. Anyways, on my right sat two, portly, yellow onions, and one, bulbous, red, bell pepper. I had me an idea tonight. Inspired from Seems we have been reduced to hot dogs around here lately, and not that I don’t fancy a good hot dog from time to time, but it’s just that I thought I could raise the bar a little for my lowly tube steaks, with a matter of home-made onion relish. It was a plausible assumption. As usual, even if it didn’t work, it was an excuse to be outside, and more over, to play with fire. That’s all I was probably after anyway, in my heart of hearts. So grab yourself a suitable beverage then, and settle in, and let me tell you about how to make fire roasted onion relish on the grill. It’s pretty easy, really. If not dubiously fun!

20130716_194339_edit0The first order of business of course, is to get your coals going. A half-chimney ought to do, political section optional. Let them come to full maturity, or in other words, get good and grayed-over before you dump them in the pit. Spread them out evenly, and place your two yellow onions directly on the coals. You don’t even need the grate for this endeavor. It will seem a trifle primitive at first, watching your beloved onions morph into blackened rubble, but I guess that’s the point. After ten minutes or so, go head and flip the onions over, and lay your bell pepper on the coals too. Round about now, expect your bride to walk by and inquire what in the heck you’re doing to your vegetables. Keep your pit master cool tho, and simply motion her off with your tongs. I’m sure Picasso or Rembrandt  never wanted to show their triumphs in progress either.  People just won’t get it.

At any rate, keep rotating the pepper a few degrees every minute or so, until it’s blistered and black all the way around. That’s right, totally ruin the thing! And keep a watchful eye on your onions, which tarry precariously on this bed of coals here. Look at the ends of the onions, where the petals all conspire. What you want to see is little eruptions of onion juice, bubbling out and so forth. That means your onion has cooked properly deep within, and should wager of pleasing value to your culinary end game. Pluck them hence from the fiery bosom from which they lay, and unto a better destiny according to your palate. The bell pepper shouldn’t be far behind. Onions and bell peppers just go together, as you know. A binding duo to stand the test of time. Like raisins and bran. Or chocolate and peanut butter. Or concrete and rebar. Anyways.


The next step is to render these sickly looking masses into something a wee more edible. Scrape off the charred exterior. It comes off easily enough, and harvest yourself as much good portions of the distraught vegetables as you can. The onion layers directly below the outer-most charred layers you will want to keep. For it is in these layers that the premium smokey flavor we’re after subtly lurks. As with all good BBQ, take your time. Were in no hurry here. In point of fact, this relish, we found, benefits from a night’s stay in the refrigerator anyways.

Next, and with your favorite chopping knife, go henceforth and whack away on the onions and bell pepper, until you get the size and consistency you fancy in your relish. Toss it all in a bowl to mingle and commune. We tossed in some chopped Italian parsley too, for good measure. Some salt and pepper. A nice offering of olive oil. And you will also want some bit of acid mixed in here too. We used lemon juice. But you can use what ever vinegar you have on hand too. Inspiration, remember, are the keys to the culinary Ferrari.

That is it. Now just let the relish honeymoon in the fridge over night. And consume at your leisure.

Here then ends our story. Our tale in relish. And once again demonstrates that not all in this life is lost which is banished unto the fires. That good things, with a little nurturing,  can and do rise from the ashes. And that when you think about it, it might actually be better that way sometimes. In a round about matter, that is. Like a diamond out of the coals. Amen.


Fire Roasted Onion Relish. Next time you’re looking to make a favorable  condiment, consider this smokey-tinted onion affair, sure to bring your lowly hot dog to the next level. Quite tasty. Even to my bride, who never once claimed to be a fan of onions. Works good on salmon too, and possibly even hamburgers. You tell us!


26 responses

  1. looks pretty darn good, fellas. i just made myself a nice big batch of red pepper relish, but i didn’t have the foresight to blacken my peppers. i just went with vinegar and a couple of spoons of sugar. i think it makes the red bell pepper flavor really pop.

    i was thinking though, you guys ever tried blackening with spicy/non-bell peppers? maybe anchos or serranos? barbecue some tomatoes and avocado and i bet you guys could whip up a nice grilled pico de gallo. just an idea.

    July 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

    • Dang,we like it Misha! You got a culinary flare about you. Keep it up!

      We will certainly have to try your idea. Sounds awesome.

      Thanks man!

      July 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

  2. Oh wow. I love the sound of this relish! We had bratwurst and mustard on Sunday afternoon and I caramelised some onions til they were smoky and sweet, but now I wish I had this relish instead. I don’t have access to coals in my apartment but I may try to be resourceful and bake the onions in the oven. Or blacken them on the grill flame. What do you think? I hope it works!!

    July 24, 2013 at 9:07 am

    • Yeah, its tough being an outdoor cook in an apartment. I’m sure it would work in the oven well enough, tho the whole idea of doing it in the coals is not so much to blacken it, but to give it a wee smokey tint. Even so, good is good, and I bet what you make will be just that.

      Thanks Laura!

      July 24, 2013 at 9:30 am

      • Yeah I definitely understand the smokiness aspect. I might try the oven method and then add in a tiny bit of liquid smoke to try and mimic the coal-baked flavour. Ah, dear. I can’t wait to move out into a house with a backyard one day! Thanks guys.

        July 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm

  3. I’m always happy when I am notified of a new posting from Patrons of the Pit. You’re writing style and subject matter both appeal to me a great deal. Thanks for taking the time to put out such enjoyable content. The fire-roasted onion relish has inspired me, and made my stomach growl!

    July 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

    • Ah wow, thanks Mike. Its feedback like yours that sort of inspire us to keep after it. You know how it is. Anyways, thanks man. Have a good one!


      July 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

  4. Nick Trandahl

    As always, Patrons of the Pit delights with well-written prose and another delicious savory recipe (Onions are one of my favorite ingredients to use in my own cooking). I start salivating a deluge as soon as I get an email notification heralding another well-written piece from you. Cheers!

    July 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

    • Wowwy, a salivating deluge you say!


      July 24, 2013 at 11:05 am

      • Deluge: incoming!

        July 24, 2013 at 11:34 am

      • Nick Trandahl


        July 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

  5. Liz

    these stories are so good they make me want to weep! Motioning your bride off with your tongs cracked me up–she’s come to expect that sort of behavior from you, I’d bet 😉 And interesting that the tweety birds went silent for a spell. I have not read of any bird gatherings–tweety or otherwise–in any of the papers.

    The relish looks fantastico and you’re right on trend with the fancy hot dog topping.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    • Oh golly, no weeping over a hot dog story now! Get control of yourself.

      Yes, she is learning to fairly accept my antics whence hunkered over the pit. I suppose because most of the time she is well-fed because of them.

      As usual, thank you Liz. Love your comments!

      July 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  6. laurie27wsmith

    Well, you blokes really know your onions. That relish looks great, you should be worthy recipients of the ‘Royal Order of The Onion.’ Or some such honorary title for BBQers.

    July 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    • Haha, well thank you Laurie. Good to see you about!

      Royal Order of the Onion! That could just as well be an award for bad breath, so, let us keep our head on the matter I suppose.

      Thanks Laurie!

      July 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm

  7. Nicely done!!! I’ve made fire roasted veggies before, but not directly on the coals. You fine sirs have given me an idea for dinner on Friday night!

    July 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    • Thanks Brian. Always good to help out an egg head! Carry on!

      July 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      • You have given me an idea for a fire roasted veg and chicken pesto pizza. I’m going to do the peppers and onions in my Mini Egg, then grill up some chicken, cook some bacon and make a pesto sauce to all go on the pizza… I’ll keep you posted.

        July 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm

  8. Great post guys! I like your witty and amusing reminds me of my own style if I do say so myself. The relish sounds incredible. Oh the possibilities!!

    July 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

  9. Amen indeed. Beautifully composed in both word and deed. As ever a pleasure.

    July 26, 2013 at 7:25 am

  10. I absolutely dig roasted red peppers! This method is genius. Deerslayer certainly perked up his ears over this one.

    July 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm

  11. I truly hope the relish lives up to your write up !

    \m/ respect

    July 27, 2013 at 7:59 am

  12. Pingback: It will seem a trifle primitive at first, watching your beloved onions morph into blackened rubble,”| Catching up with Patrons of the Pit | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  13. Pingback: July 2002. Ousback’s Grilled Pepper Relish. Delving into The Archives. | Heat in the Kitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s