Fire Up The Grill

Summer is upon us. Along with pool parties, fishing, softball and camping trips, we get to enjoy one of the best activities ever invented for a warm summer evening – firing up the grill.

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Chicken cooking over hot coals is an excellent way to begin your grilling career. 

Over the years I’ve tried gas and charcoal grills; each has advantages and disadvantages. We will not debate them here. If you are using a gas grill and love it, may the propane be with you. If you are a tried and true coal lover, more carbon to you.

 

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My Weber grill has given me hours of joy and dozens of delightful meals.

Currently, I’m using a Weber Performer Deluxe, 22-inch Charcoal Grill because that is what my family bought for Fathers Day a few years ago. (Okay – full disclosure – It’s what I asked for because I really like charcoal grilling.) But it does exactly what I want it to do: It cooks food. What more do you really want in a grill?

My friend, Dave is a charcoal aficionado.  He introduced me to the chimney method of starting the coals and I’ll never go back to lighter fluid. Although, pouring refined gasoline on the pile and  burning the toxins does take me back to my youth. Our family would gather at the state park on Memorial Day each year and light up a bag of Kingsford Briquettes smothered in half a container of lighter fluid. Toss a lit match on the charcoal from a safe distance and you started the holidays with a bang…literally. Good times.

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The charcoal chimney starts the coals burning with one match. To me, it is as important to the grilling process as the grill itself.

Today, however, I use charcoal lumps and a chimney starter.  With a few sheets of newspaper and one match and in as little as 20-minutes, I have red-hot coals ready to cook any meat or vegetable.

Once the cooking starts, the smoke risking from the coals, combined with the cooking fat of the meat, combine to waft through the entire neighborhood with a rich, wonderful aroma that clearly announces that supper is ready.

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Garlic Corn is one of our favorites. Break corn on the cob in half, melt a stick of butter in an oven proof pan, add 4 or more chopped cloves of garlic, salt and pepper and let it cook, turning the corn frequently to cover in the buttery/garlic goodness.

For Americans, traditional grilling often involves Bar-B-Q’d pork, steak, pork chops, chicken wings, hot dogs, brats and hamburgers. And as Americans, we often try to eat one (or more, or all) of each during any given holiday event. Over the years, I’ve tried refining and expand my cooking menu to include things like Salmon on a cedar plank, garlic corn, sliced pineapple, endive, roasted peppers, Kebabs, and even whole, roasted chickens.

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Entire chickens can be roasted in the grill. Careful attention to the coals is necessary to ensure the temperature stays high enough for the full duration of the cooking process. You can also cook the chicken directly on the grill if you cut out the backbone and flay the chicken open, reducing the cooking time.

One of the things I enjoy most about the grill is the combination of high heat and slow cooking. To obtain the perfect grilled “char”, one simply has to place the food over the hottest part of the coals. The intense heat sears the meat, chars the skin, even leaving those traditional grill marks if done right. However, once seared, the food can be moved off the direct fire and allowed to slow cook, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth chops, chicken thighs that are moist and tender, steak that makes your mouth water just looking at it, or hot dogs that are, well, hot dogs.

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One of our dinners last summer: Steak and Asparagus, Garlic Corn and Grilled Endive. It was a true winner for all!

In my grilling heyday, I often spent an entire Sunday afternoon at the Weber cooking enough food for the entire week. Fish, beef, chicken, short-ribs, asparagus…I have even been known to give Tofu a try from time to time, but at much duress.

If you haven’t found your grilling bliss, I would suggest that you give it a try this year. You don’t need a $1000 grill to enjoy cooking out. Some kettle grills can be purchased for as little as $22. Light up your briquettes and start practicing this summer. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Be Brave & Eat Well

#lunchbyCurt

 

 

 

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