Thursday, April 24, 2008

FIRING UP THE GRILL.....Part 1 "GRILL WARS"

You gotta love the beginning of spring when all your neighbors come creeping out into the open and lawnmowers crank up for the first time in months. Though it's not politically correct in these eco-conscious times; I do love the carbon-print smells of a gas powered mower cutting that green, green grass and the smoky smell of a good ole charcoal grill firing up for some great groceries! Everyone on the block, or in my case The Circle, are suddenly waving, shouting "Hello" to one another and unloading SUV's and car trunks of perennials, annuals, grass seed and weed killer (not necessarily in that order.) Yes, spring has sprung and once again I'm kicking myself for not planting more perennials last year and saving my knees this season. That being said, I'm on my way out this afternoon to pick up some coleus and impatiens, neither of which is a perennial. Gotta have that instant pop of color though. You know it's hard for any Foodie to wait weeks to see results, therefore we tend to go for the "Instant Gratification" of the simple petunias and any other already blooming beauty to satisfy that gardening fever.

Having said all that...this Foodie does indeed take some things low and slow. The art of the Bar-B-Que. Now, I'm not going to get in any spitting contests with all the folks out there on what region's technique, who's sauce is right, if pork or beef is best...Oh no, I'm not gonna take on that argument. I'm going for something simpler and easier to debate (though probably just as controversial), yep, that age old question......."Charcoal or Gas?"

I am proud to admit that I am, indeed, a charcoal snob, but I can appreciate the Gas grill. They are awfully shiny and come with all those burners, and turners, and knobs and with just the push of a button you got your heat going. On the other hand with the charcoal grill, you gotta lug home that big ole 20 lb. bag of charcoal, buy the expensive charcoal starter fluid, get all dirty filling up the grill, smelling all smoky and then having to clean out those ashes every week or so. Yes, it sounds like a lot of work and a real pain in the butt, and I'll admit this is where my wonderful husband comes in handy, once again. That being said, I'm here to give you some idea of why I love the charcoal way of cooking and maybe sway a few folks to take a walk on the wild side. Charcoal can be your friend. And a tasty one at that.

First of all, you gotta admit that food cooked on a gas grill doesn't have the smoky intensity or charcoal-grilled flavor like you get on a charcoal grill. And maybe it's like a lot of things and it's all in what we grew up with. I inherited an old oil drum that was welded into a grill in 1971 by my Dad, (George Rilying's) friend, Ted Kaufman. I remember many a great meal off this grill and my introduction to a still favorite of mine...the oft overlooked BBQ Pork Steak. I'm guessing pork steaks were really cheap back then cause we sure had them often. Learning to cook on this behemoth is really an art; a fact that Geraldo can attest to. He had his trial by fire with some hamburgers back in 1990, but has since became a a real pro and a great grill master. As far as the types of charcoal to use, you have the option of using a natural lump charcoal or the ever popular briquettes (Kingsford, etc.) The number one rule in using charcoal is to please buy some sort of a charcoal starter. And by that I am NOT talking about fluid starter. No matter what, if you use even the most expensive fluid starter, you're going to taste a petroleum flavor on your food. Invest in an electric starter or a Schmidt House (yes, I know how that sounds) favorite, a charcoal chimney. Just a couple of sheets of newspaper in the bottom, fill with your charcoal and you're ready to go. Weber has a brand that has a handle and slanted lever on one side that makes it a lot easier to dump the hot coals without any mishaps.

This is the first in a few posts about Bar-B-Queing and I'm going to try to offer some good advice on rubs, sauces, marinades, cooking times and cuts of meat along the way. Be sure to check out the "BBQ QUEENS TIPS" under Simply Recipes at the right on this page. There's lots of good basic information there and a good website to check out. Today I'm going to leave you with a favorite recipe of ours. This is an easy one and one that we're going to have tonight (right after I get that coleus planted.) Just know when I give you any of these BBQ recipes...they are cooked on a Charcoal Grill. You can always alter the recipe if you have a gas grill. comfortcook@gmail.com



BARBECUED PORK STEAKS

1 Bottle Kraft Original Thick and Spicy BBQ Sauce (This is a good base for a great sauce)
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS Maple Syrup
1 TBS Granulated Garlic powder (and extra, see below)*
1 teaspoon onion powder
Dash of A1 Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
4 1/2 inch thick bone-in Pork Steaks (at room temp.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
*Additional granulated garlic sprinkled on steaks
TIP: Sometimes I add crushed pineapple or pineapple jelly to BBQ Sauce. Great on Pork and Chicken.

Mix first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Salt, pepper and sprinkle small amt gran. garlic on both sides of pork steaks
Grill over med. hot coals to sear both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Just don't burn. Baste with generous amt. of BBQ sauce.
Flip after 2-3 minutes and repeat on other side. Do this at least 2 times on each side, but you can really use as much BBQ sauce as you want. On last turn, move steaks to indirect heat to set the sauce. Test with meat thermometer, when temp reaches 170, remove and cover with foil till ready to serve.

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