The short answer is whenever it’s hot, which means most of the year here. But it is more complicated than that. For example, although my fancy new gas (propane) grill has a side burner, I wouldn’t make it my first choice for boiling water. In fact it is used mostly for roasting coffee. But that means all boiled foods are out when it gets too hot to cook in the house.

That in turn means getting creative when you have potatoes coming out your ears because your CSA box just keeps ’em coming. So I had to come up with some way to make something other than slabs of grilled potato – which aren’t all that great and take too long.

Grilled Potato Packets

So, I dug out my trusty chinese plastic almost-a-mandoline and sliced up lots of potatoes really thin and then did the same with a couple of onions. Then I made little packets of foil, each with a large individual serving of potatoes and onion, liberally doused with olive oil, kosher salt and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Fold them up tight, crimping the edges to seal them. Then put them all around the edges of the grill while you cook something else – taking care to make sure they aren’t over direct heat.

For this to work you need a grill with a cover so the heat gets kept inside like an oven. Turn the packets over after about twenty minutes and keep cooking for a total of about 50 minutes – your temperature inside the grill cover if you can test it should be about 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

When everyone unwraps the potato packets they should get soft, melt in your mouth potato and onions with a caramelized crust on the bottom of crisp potato and browned onion.

The last two times I did this I did them once with marinated grilled pieces of cut up chicken and the second time with a whole roasted chicken on a rotisserie spit. The first came out perfectly in every respect, but in the second I got a big grease fire when I went in the house to check something and came back to find the chicken rather blackened and the temperature in the grill at over 700 degrees! But I cooled it down and figures out that it was just the skin and that I could pull it off after it was finished cooking and everything would be good – which it was. And the potatoes were even better.

And, yes, Paper Chef ends tomorrow at Noon, so hurry and get those entries in!